A Lesson From Finland
By Norma Fruzynski, Charles Sweeney (Sophomores)
Many people in our school would agree that school days are brutal, you wake up early in the morning and attend 7 hours of strictly scheduled schooling every day. This leaves many of us stressed and constantly exhausted. The Eagle Times suggests taking a lesson from Finland, where school is approached differently. With much shorter days, an hour for lunch, and 15 minutes in between each class, in Finland they choose to make the well-being of their students their main priority. This means things like high-quality free lunches since 1948, much less homework, and much more personalized learning. They focus on a very anti-stress environment because they believe that students learn better when they are ready and comfortable. In early childhood they focus on play and social interaction which promotes the joy of learning, they look to develop basic skills in children and also motivation to learn. Individual schools and teachers are given more control over what happens, and the lower amount of time in the classroom–while being very beneficial to students’ mental health–also gives teachers time to build their curriculum and assess their students.
When comparing the American school system to other countries, several things must be considered: the average expenditure per student in the American public school system is about $13,000, The U.S. spends a lot of money on public education, and it has one of the highest budgets for education in the world. However, we don’t match up to some countries in a few key learning benchmarks. If you take into account a country like Finland–which spends $2,800 per student–their academics are far more successful than the U.S. In fact, they have some of the most promising statistics for their education in the world. One main goal for Finnish educators is to promote equitable learning. This means that if you are from another country, adjusting to a new language, or if you have a learning disability, you aren’t falling behind other students. While keeping children up to speed on the current academics is important to Finnish educators, they also don’t want to rush children through school. They say that children learn best when they are comfortable. This is most likely why it is almost unheard of to hold back students in Finland, while this is regular in America. They don’t pressure students to take standardized tests, making the educational process much smoother and adjustable to their learning. In fact, Finland enforces only one, in a student’s senior year of highschool.
Some in America say that Finnish educational techniques will not apply because of population differences. They are mistaken. Finland spends a little bit over 20¢ per $1 America spends on its students, they have a thriving system, and they get results. Surely we can take some of those ideas and use them to create practical change in the U.S, PPS, and Obama.