Finland has started to improve its educational system forty years ago, as a main part in the process of economical regeneration of the country. However, the teachers had no idea of the reform’s success until 2000, when the first results of the Program for the Students’ International Evaluation placed their students among the best readers in the world. Three years later, they were the first also in Mathematics.
Being a teacher in Finland
The teachers are highly respected and appreciated in Finland. Many students aspire to become a teacher. Teachers are highly qualified and it is required to have an MA diploma in order to teach. The exams one has to pass in order to become a teacher are very tough. Only the best candidates receive the job. All the teachers have high salaries.
The educational system
- Children begin school at the age of seven.
- Nursery school is not compulsory.
- Two years of compulsory primary school and four years of lower secondary school. In these first years of school, all the subjects are taught by the same teacher.
- Three years of upper secondary school (different teachers for each subject).
- Children can also study at home, but their progress is constantly checked through a series of examinations sustained by the state school (few children do this).
- After the compulsory school, students can choose if they want to go to high -school or not.
- Four years of high-school that end up with a national examination which serves as the basis for attending university. High-school can be finished in two years, if the students pass all the required exams.
The teaching atmosphere in the class
- The teacher has the liberty to design his/her own syllabus, to choose the proper materials, to prepare the lesson according to their own personalities.
- Each class has one or more teachers who focus on the students that require extra help.
- Few test. Tests are not compulsory, except for the national examination. They are not marked and they are used to monitor the learning progress. They are descriptive and informative for the student’s level of learning.
- Teachers and students address to each other by using their Christian names.
- Little homework.
- No uniforms.
- No excellency classes/ groups.
- Few classes/week.
- Few students in a class, so that the teacher can focus more on each student.
- Many outdoor activities and a lot of sports practice.
- The bell doesn’t ring at the beginning and at the end of the lesson.
The success of the Finish system is based on the idea that “less can sometimes mean more”. The teaching process id focused on the step-by-step progress of the students. The philosophy adopted by the Ministry of Education in Finland is to train professional teachers and let them express freely when choosing their teaching methods, syllabus and materials. Their success resides not in the fact that they have adopted a new way of teaching, but that they have integrated the teaching-learning process into their own cultural context.