In late November Carol and I had a highly stimulating educational tour of the Finnish schools. Our purpose was to find out what the Finns were doing to create such fantastic educational outcomes. As you may know Finland leads the World in the most significant indicators of educational outcomes be it maths, languages etc and also, more importantly, student capacity to engage in thinking and problem solving.
In the 1960’s Finland was a relatively poor country dependent on fisheries and forestry. The Finnish government then went about the process of installing a highly innovative educational program to support individual opportunity through education and to create a generation of thinkers who would help build a national culture of innovation.
Educators seem to have bi-partisan support from politicians as they constantly work to evolve a system that is willing to respond to the challenges of the 21st century. For example – Finland is about to do away with exams based on memorisation and move to digitally based cross disciplinary problem solving exams that will test the thinking capacity of a student rather than simply reward students on how much they know.
Whilst touring these Finnish schools we constantly encountered the following comment; “We are here to show students how to use information, not accumulate it. That does not constitute thinking. All the information we need is now on a laptop”.
Classroom spaces are incredibly well equipped, students work independently in spaces that are designed for reflective thinking and problem solving. The teacher’s role is more that of a facilitator not a person who simply delivers information. Whilst constant testing is not a feature of the system students do participate in an HSC style exam in order to enter university.
We were really pleased to see that our learning spaces at HSC CoWorks and also the strategies which we have adopted were clearly validated in Finland and in many respects our educational approach is deeply aligned i.e. creating highly independent & successful learners as well as promoting each student’s capacity to engage in thinking and problem solving.
So what did we learn?
- That our learning strategies at HSC CoWorks are validated by the most successful educational system in the world.
- That every student not only has the right to get great results, but if they learn to take responsibility for their own learning the results will come.
- That friendliness and motivation are key factors in determining educational success..
- That students need to be trusted and they also need to be given the tools/skills to achieve success.