Finland, Dept.


Whatever Finland does apparently, is the right thing because they’re always touted as number 1 in education internationally, no matter whether it’s true or not. And I can’t tell what’s true anymore.

But the latest in “Finland does this, so maybe it’s time we tried it…” is the elimination of school subjects because, you know, disciplines are so twentieth century, factory model, and all the rest. Even though subjects have emerged as disciplines for centuries. The 21st century is the end of all that came before, it seems.

“Finnish officials want to remove school subjects from the curriculum. There will no longer be any classes in physics, math, literature, history, or geography.

The head of the Department of Education in Helsinki, Marjo Kyllonen, explained the changes:

“There are schools that are teaching in the old-fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginning of the 1900s — but the needs are not the same, and we need something fit for the 21st century. Instead of individual subjects, students will study events and phenomena in an interdisciplinary format. For example, the Second World War will be examined from the perspective of history, geography, and math. And by taking the course ”Working in a Cafe,” students will absorb a whole body of knowledge about the English language, economics, and communication skills.”

Well, now maybe I’ve been too harsh. After reading this it all makes sense. Of course “Working in a Cafe” can convey lots of information about analytic geometry, about conic sections, congruence, logarithms, exponential forms, factoring, quadratic equations, and of course, World War II.

But wait–this is for senior/16 year old students. That makes it all different now doesn’t it?

“This system will be introduced for senior students, beginning at the age of 16. The general idea is that the students ought to choose for themselves which topic or phenomenon they want to study, bearing in mind their ambitions for the future and their capabilities. In this way, no student will have to pass through an entire course on physics or chemistry while all the time thinking to themselves “What do I need to know this for?”

Right, now they won’t ask that question because they won’t teach the topics that they would need if they indeed wanted to go into a STEM career. And who wants STEM anyway? Let’s go with a Summerhillian vision and everyone can be a communications major.

And no article disavowing traditional teaching techniques would be complete without this:

“The traditional format of teacher-pupil communication is also going to change. Students will no longer sit behind school desks and wait anxiously to be called upon to answer a question. Instead, they will work together in small groups to discuss problems.”

And how has that worked out for the last 25+ years?


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