Finland Will Eliminate School Subjects And Give Children Freedom

The country is committed to integrating various themes in educational projects similar to the real world.

The Scandinavian countries stand out for being among the richest in Europe and, also, for offering a good educational model. However, alongside them, Finland shows a curious trend: despite not enjoying the economic level of its western neighbors, for years it has been above them in the results of the PISA report, which assesses the educational level of adolescents 15 years. 

In fact, the first time these measurements were made, this country surprised by leading the educational ranking with a great advantage over the rest.

Since then, Finland has become a benchmark in education. But it seems that she is not content with a school model that others try to imitate. Now, the country is in the process of changing the way of teaching classes from top to bottom: subjects disappear and “projects” appear, in which several competencies are worked on at the same time.

The characteristics of education in Finland

The current Finnish educational model is characterized by a liberalization of teaching, which moves away from models based on very rigid lectures in which students copy and memorize what they are told. This means that an attempt is made to promote the autonomy of students by making them actively participate in classes, cooperate with each other to develop projects and, in general, have a greater degree of freedom when deciding how to learn.

On the other hand, it seems that Finnish education achieves more with less. Its annual teaching hours, for example, are less than those of Spain: 608 and 875, respectively. The amount of homework to be done at home is also less, and this fits very well with a mindset that places parents in a very relevant place when it comes to the education of their children. Education is understood to be something that occurs throughout the day, and not just within the walls of the school.

In addition, teacher training is very demanding for both primary and secondary schools, and is considered a university and post-university path that is difficult to access, as well as being highly centralized: the ways of training teachers are very similar in all schools universities in the country. It is for all this, among other things, that in Finland teachers are highly valued and admired.

What does the disappearance of the subjects consist of?

The new educational paradigm in Finland, which is being tested in schools in Helsinki and will be fully implemented in 2020, is based on a premise: to go from educating about content to educating about skills similar to those that will be required in adult life.

This implies stopping dealing with topics as if each of them were a watertight compartment, and having students learn and train in very different skills in one hour, in the same way that challenges do not appear on a daily basis sequentially, but integrated into each other.

Thus, subjects give way to “projects”, in which subjects that previously belonged to different subjects appear integrated into complex challenges and with several layers of competence. For example, one of the exercises to be carried out may consist of explaining in English the different characteristic ecosystems of several European countries previously studied, or else explaining whether a text on economics offers correct data and expresses them in grammatically correct ways.

In this way, the brain of the students will always be working at the same time on several types of mental processes oriented towards the resolution of a complex problem, which is sometimes known as  multiple intelligences.

These projects will be led by groups of various teachers who will combine their skills to offer an environment in which students can work in groups and raise their doubts on different topics without being slowed down by the pace of the class.

Training future workers

The idea of ​​educating in a less rigid way is very seductive, among other things, because it seems to be based on the ideals of romanticism. A classroom in which activities develop more naturally should be exposed to the risks that the impositions of “civilization” may limit the creativity and spontaneous curiosity of the youngest.

However, there is an alternative way of looking at this change in the educational model. For example, interpreting it as a way of subordinating education to the interests of the labor market. One thing is to work on several types of skills at the same time, and another is to choose the type of projects in which these are going to be exercised according to what the country’s productive machinery needs.

With the disappearance of the subjects and the emergence of a more pragmatic approach, the risk that the theoretical-practical projects that produce added value may even further eclipse those whose existence does not have to depend on the market but with critical thinking. and a global vision of the world, such as philosophy. Time will tell.

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