For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy. Finland’s education system is considered one of the best in the world. However, the authorities there aren’t ready to rest on their laurels, and they’ve decided to carry through a real revolution in their school system.
Finnish officials want to remove school subjects from the curriculum. There will no longer be any classes in physics, math, literature, history, or geography.
Instead of individual subjects, students will study events and phenomena in an interdisciplinary format.
For example, the Second World War will be examined from the perspective of history, geography, and math. And by taking the course ”Working in a Cafe,” students will absorb a whole body of knowledge about the English language, economics, and communication skills.
Before now, Finnish secondary schools have followed much the same model as American high schools: fifty minutes of math, fifty minutes of history, fifty minutes of biology.
But going forward, schools are moving toward getting rid of this structure in favor of organizing learning around different topics. For example, where an American student might take separate classes in foreign language, world history, and economics, for a Finnish student all of these subjects might be combined together in an over-arching unit on the European Union.
The traditional format of teacher-pupil communication is also going to change. Students will no longer sit behind school desks and wait anxiously to be called upon to answer a question. Instead, they will work together in small groups to discuss problems and debate on the topics.
Of course, while Finland is famous for its no-homework policy for students, this new system might create a fair bit of homework for its teachers. It would obviously require a lot more co-planning and coordination among faculty–not every teacher can be an expert in every single subject area covered under one of these broad topics.
Is this idea an interesting one? Definitely we can say so. Is it likely to be effective in American schools? We don’t know, but the future will sure prove the benefits.