It’s been nearly two decades since Finland, has enjoyed the repute of having the most robust education system in the world. The fact that its 15-years-old score spectacularly high points in maths, science and reading during the global Pisa league is an indicator of its exceptionally high educational standard.
In Finland, children don’t start formal education till they turn seven. They have longer holidays, shorter school hours, very little homework and no exams and still produce great academic results. This is something, which has long fascinated the world. However, despite the success that Finland has tasted with its present education system, it looks all set to shake up old method of teaching to make way for digital way of teaching.
Since August 2016, it has now become compulsory for Finnish schools to use technology in an innovative way to teach students. The idea is to use technology to source interesting inputs from outside the school like museums etc to outsource information to the classroom
“This project that uses phenomenon-based learning (PBL) aims at equipping children with skills that is necessary to survive in the present age,” Kirsti Lonka, a professor of educational psychology at Helsinki University said, in an interview with BBC.
She maintains that just learning arithmetic, grammar and science in school doesn’t really equip a child to face the world. She during the interview maintained that in real life we think in a holistic way, unlike in school, where a child is tough to think subject wise. She said, “In the real world when we think of global issues, migration, economy, cyber bullying, fake news etc, to be honest, we really don’t train out children to deal with the issues of the world in schools. Hence, we need to make the, develop skills to think, understand and deal with global issue, right from school.”
Does PBL Work?
While this new way of teaching has endorsers like Lonka, it also has critics like Jussi Tanhuanpaa, a physics teacher, who fears this may widen the gap between bright and average students.
“This way of teaching is great for the brightest children who understand what knowledge they need to take away from an experiment. It allows them the freedom to learn at their own pace and take the next steps when they are ready to,” he said during the BBC interview.
Sharing a similar opinion was Helsinki University’s Jari Salminen. He maintained that similar modules had implemented earlier too and had failed to yield good results.
However, the national agency for education in Finland is very much determined to experiment. An official from the agency maintained that all the subjects wouldn’t be done away with. “The subjects will still be there, just that we will be embedding PBL along with it,” said Anneli Rautiainen of education agency. The government at the moment is not very much bothered about the results; however they are expecting better performance at international events like Pisa.