Exploring the Finnish Phenomenon in School Educational


Rita Wilson
Editor, The Progressive Teacher

Our trip to Finland was an eye-opener as far as school education is concerned. We, in India, are still following the industrial age model of education propagated in the eighteenth century, whereas the Finnish system of education is well-grounded in the twenty-first century. We have a lot to learn from them and that was the purpose of our trip to Helsinki in May, 2016. A group of thirty-one school leaders, business professionals and The Progressive Teacher team went to Finland to study the Finnish Phenomenon in school education.

Finland’s education system has been ranked among the best in the world for more than a decade. Finland has built an admirable school system as it pays close attention to the needs of the children, it selects and prepares its educators well; and it builds educational communities that are not only physically attractive but conducive to the joys of teaching-learning. This is a country where students start school at a later age, take fewer classes, spend less time in school per day, they have barely any home-work and are rarely tested. The teachers are respected professionals; they are rarely evaluated and receive good wages. The schools research and adopt new technologies, have no achievement gaps, no child is left behind. This country ranks top of the world in every measure.

Their vision of the schools includes their belief in inclusive education, no student is left behind, curriculum is customized to the needs of the child and ‘one size fits all’ is not the norm. Every student is considered valuable and important. Thus, the system enables children to grow roots and wings and encourages teachers to develop their professional skills.

Our trip was not just serious study and work at the University of Helsinki and local schools, but included a lot of fun viz. the Helsinki city tour, the Helsinki cruise, visit to the local flea market and the delightful outing to the Heureka Science Centre. At the Heureka Science Centre, we learnt about science and technology in an exciting and fun-filled hands-on environment. The film in the planetarium was a breath-taking visual experience.

The Progressive Teacher is organizing more such trips to Finland. I would like to encourage school leaders and teachers to participate in these at their convenience, as they are once in a lifetime experiences.

Rita Wilson