Saturday, 25 July 2009

Finnish Schools: Some Early Observations

In 1931, Gilmour observed a school in the Helsinki area, the Kaisaniemen Kansakoulu.  She documented that all children had medical examinations twice a year, and noted "the orderliness, the politeness, the independence, the thoroughness, the co-operative spirit, the initiative, the absence of self-consciousness" (p. 63).  

Gilmour observed that the Finnish primary school sought "'through labour to labours' to keep a close connection with practical life" (p. 64).  She also remarked how the Finnish school provided a strong foundation for those who continued with study in addition to those who would leave the education system sooner than some of their peers.  

In 1968, Binham noticed the remarkable welfare available to students through the schools: "Everything at the elementary school is free -- free books, free meals, free medical and dental treatment, and for children living more than three miles from school (the rule rather than the exception in more remote districts) free transport.  Clothes and shoes are also provided for needy pupils" (p. 157).  

In 1970, Bacon detected a sense of practical and applied education.  He uses the example of language.  Finnish students spent a considerable time on modern languages, rather than classical languages.  He also observed how early school ended for the children.  Even today, PISA data shows that Finnish students spend very little time in the classroom compared to their counterparts in other countries.  

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