The Key is the Culture in Finnish Schools


When looking at the horizon of education across the globe, Finnish schools often emerge as outperforming in international measures of student success. The secret, however, is not rooted in excessive homework or high-stakes testing but in the nation’s unique cultural approach to education.

At the heart of Finland’s educational system lies a profound respect for teaching as a profession. Teachers are highly educated – all of them must have at least a master’s degree – and are given significant autonomy in the classroom. This autonomy allows for a tailored approach to each student, fostering an environment where children can thrive and learn at their own pace.

Finnish culture values equality highly, and this is reflected in their school system where all children, regardless of background or ability, are cared for equally. There are no standardized tests until students reach the age of 16, except for a National Matriculation Exam that concludes high school. Instead, teachers assess students continuously. This de-emphasis on testing alleviates stress and competition among students, providing a more harmonious learning atmosphere.

Another cultural cornerstone is the emphasis on play and free time. Finnish children start school at age seven and have longer recess times throughout the day compared to their international counterparts. These breaks are seen as crucial for children’s development and well-being; it’s not only about rest but about learning through play and interaction.

Furthermore, Finnish schools rarely give out homework until the later grades, allowing family time and extracurricular activities to take precedence post-school hours. Education in Finland extends beyond the boundaries of classroom walls; it is holistically woven into societal values.

Sisu, a Finnish concept akin to grit or resilience, is also an influential element of this educational culture. The education system encourages persistence through challenges rather than immediate perfection or success – learning from failure is considered just as important as achieving success.

Lastly, parental involvement is encouraged in Finnish schools. Parents and teachers often have a close relationship regarding their children’s education process because it’s widely accepted that education is not solely the responsibility of schools but a partnership among students, parents, and educators.

In conclusion, Finland’s educational supremacy can be attributed largely to its culture – one that honors equality, encourages autonomy and resilience, promotes wellness through play and free time, lessens stress through reduced testing, integrates familial engagement in schooling decisions, and carries an inherent respect for teachers. It serves as an enlightening example for countries worldwide aiming to reform their education systems for better outcomes and happier students.


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