Is this the end of “subjects” in Finnish schools?
Widely regarded as one of the best education systems in the world, Finland’s authorities are not resting on that status after announcing their intention to remove “subjects” from the school curriculum altogether.
Explaining the changes, the head of the Department of Education in Helsinki, Majo Kyllonen said:
“There are schools that are teaching in the old-fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginning of the 1900s — but the needs are not the same, and we need something fit for the 21st century.”
It has been reported that classes such as physics, maths, literature, history, geography and more could be removed from the teaching syllabus by 2020. They’ll be replaced by inter-disciplinary learning that focuses on phenomena and events. All kinds of themes, skills and subjects can be touched upon during the study of World War II, for example, while a course like “Working in a Cafe”, could bring out knowledge around English language, maths, communication skills and much more.
Despite consistently featuring in the top 10 in various international rankings, it’s clear that the Finnish educational authorities recognise that they have been succeeding in a system that doesn’t fit the needs of 21st century learners.
The proposal represents a radical shift in the way things are taught and will initially be introduced for older students, beginning at age 16. Choice will be offered in terms of the topics and phenomena that each student believes they should be taught about, while the traditional model of pupils sitting behind desks is also set to be removed and replaced by small group discussions dominating classroom time.
Changes will also impact teachers, reportedly around 70% of teachers in Helsinki have already undertaken preparatory work to meet the needs of the new system. The training and related pay increases represent a significant investment from the Finnish government.
This could represent a significant shift in education and it’ll be interesting to see how the international community reacts. The changes strongly resonate with the thoughts of many leading education experts including reknowned creativity expert, author and TED speaker Sir Ken Robinson. To understand some of the thinking about these kinds of changing further, watch this Disruptive Innovation Festival (DIF) headliner video.