Finland has been ranked number one in numerous educational rankings during the last 25 years i.e. the most recent ones from the World Economic Forum & UNICEF. So, if we are getting such good results year after year, why are we not spreading the best practices all over the world?
If we are hoping to combine all or even some aspects of Finnish education practises to other countries we Finnish solution providers and our foreign clients need to go through the following steps:
1) Clarify what is Finnish education on a concrete level
Finnish educational model is designed according to research based decisions of what kind of education produces the best results i.e. what subjects and skills should we teach at any given age.
Our educational decisions are based on certain values and ethical choices. We should make clear guidelines out of them and how to apply them i.e. That students, teachers and other staff are all equal and everyone has their important part in a school. Or a definition that the purpose of the education is to grow active citizens with 21st century skills and not just to do well in tests.
After these it is easier to identify and list all more concrete aspects of how to operate a Finnish school i.e. What kind of teacher-student interaction and teaching methods increase motivation to learn or what kind breaks during the day increase students’ attention span to learn.
2) Understand that Finnish Education is an educational system
If we are running after one silver bullet and hope that there is a quick fix to gain the same educational results in any school in a world, we are all wasting our time.
We should look at all the different aspects together and see the connections between them i.e. If I am training teachers to use variable methods like project based learning with real companies, does our management policies allow us to go outside the school? Or if we want to use the latest software from Finland, do we have time for teacher training to understand how to use it in the most effective pedagogical way? Or if our curriculum defines we should take individual students into account during lessons, does our school building design help us to do this?
3) Work together
There is no single expert who could define and design a full Finnish school from A-Z. Our strength is that our educational expertise is spread across numerous teachers, headmasters, researchers and contultants who have studied and created innovative solutions to education over the years.
Our weakness used to be that all of these people worked full time in schools or in universities. Now, many of them have become fulltime entrepreneurs or joined companies that are able to work with foreign schools. Some of the experts are still working in schools but are also working as part time consultants too. These are fairly new career development paths in a country where all the educational jobs and careers used to be in public schools just a few decades ago.
Finland has a growing number of companies, schools and other organisations that have started working together as a network to create integrated solutions in other countries that can produce solutions or even full K-12 schools based on a Finnish educational system.
Finnish experts need the support of local educational experts and need to co-create models that work in that specific country. This is a big motivational driver for both sides but also a crucial part of the change management process if we want Finnish models to be adopted by local educational experts. They have to be involved in designing their own work to commit to it.
All of these three aspects have to be understood by the Finnish educational experts and foreign schools interested in adopting Finnish models and gaining similar educational results. These are also the reasons why SkillzzUp is now a part of Polar Partners, the first professional network of Finnish educational experts, able to address all of these three aspects.
Written By Kimmo Kumpulainen, Founder of SkillzzUp and Polar Partners