Education in the Finnish Economy: The Human Spirit Alive in Technology
Despite receiving increasing global attention, the Finnish education system has always remained relatively quiet about what makes it successful.
Whether it’s hard work, belief in your own ability or the ability to draw upon outside resources, Finns are always drawn to the secret sauce of their education system. While the wide-ranging theory and theories on the strengths and weaknesses of Finnish schooling may be a decade or more old, the results have been real and tangible.
Its detailed success has also drawn the attention of the rest of the world.
Singapore may have long known how to groom its citizens for leadership roles, but the Finns have been leading the way by allocating large sums of money to supplement the educational system with unprecedented technology.
The success with which the Finnish education system operates depends on three people – teacher, pupil and technology.
A teacher should lead and control the learning environment, foster student learning, and set clear and quantifiable standards and goals for each activity, but they are no longer exclusively responsible for learning in their classroom.
Students need technology as a foundation of their learning experience and they need that technology to be fun, interactive and challenging.
An individual’s learning is fully independent of the teachers’ efforts. Effective learning is threefold – individual, group and shared.
Why the change?
Firstly, the Finnish public education system changed its focus from purely academic and academic-based learning to curriculum-driven learning. The teachers have been replaced by committees of external experts and experts within the Finnish education system, as well as trustees or community members who are specially trained in technology.
The primary point is that, rather than sticking to traditional elements of lessons, new technology encourages students to take part in meaningful interactions with each other or the teacher, while incorporating motivation.
In a word, technology is for the student.
By removing the pressure and expectation of the teacher, it enables students to become more independent in their learning and becomes a means for students to achieve more.
Who Benefits from the Change?
Finland may have an impressive education system, but its teachers have been usually without pay rises for the past 20 years.
The government was forced to implement a way to increase the pay of the people who provide this information, and education became a vital part of their role.
The change in perspective has led to a productive and relaxed set of relationships among teachers, pupils and parents. The development of young minds has been advanced because of the change in focus of technology.
The Finnish education system has made special efforts to ensure young people’s privacy is maintained in everything it does. The Finnish administration made research and development software available to teachers so they could develop and manage creative classroom activities in an open and collaborative manner.
In addition, technology has been used to determine how young people learn, and to serve as an additional resource in the development of students. For instance, technology has led to the adoption of portals as the main learning environment for pupils. This allows them to collaborate with one another and their teachers in real time.
The real benefits of the Finnish education system for students, however, go much further than these technical innovations.
A vision of the future has led to an audacious vision for the short term. The government is committed to developing “this learning environment where learning is deep and meaningful and teachers collaborate in exchange. This learning environment where each student takes initiative and students are engaged in their own learning.”
The Finnish society could take cues from these guiding principles and other nations could follow the Finns’ lead and invest in education and technology not only to drive creativity, but to stimulate it – and in time to support other industries in the Finnish economy.