pony trekking or camping,
or just watching TV." - Monty Python
Oh yes, there are so many things that I could pine for about Finland: Helsinki Square, its beautiful archipelagos, the overabundance of vowels, their majestic moose. And now, I can be a fan of their excruciatingly progressive education system.
Aside from having to teach their children how to use all those phonemes, teachers are now being asked to teach their classes "topics" rather than "subjects." The Finns already have an education system that is not driven by standardized tests, That doesn't mean they don't get assessed. To the contrary. They are tested regularly by their teachers. In their classrooms. On the topics which they are covering. Topics. What does this mean?
It means that Finland is going to try and prepare their kids for "real life." This should help them become more prepared to enter the workforce, as well as enable them to be more available for the tasks they will encounter in their future. It also help them decipher the meaning of those phrases found between quotation marks. What is "real life?"
Well, in real life, experiences don't come in bite-size subject-specific chunks. Instead, they come tumbling at us all in a flurry of interrelated disciplines and skills. Working in a bank does not require just math, but language and communication as well. Vocations of all kinds will require more an more technology, so even a cafeteria services course would have computers in it, as well as a heavy dose of interpersonal relationship and management training.
This makes some teachers, even those in Finland, uncomfortable. What good is being the world's foremost authority on eighth grade social studies when it will only be a tiny slice of what we want our kids to know? Well, that Master's Degree could come in handy, since most Finnish teachers have them, and they get paid like they do. According to a report in New Republic, Finnish teachers earn one hundred two percent of what their fellow university graduates make in salary, contrasted with the sixty-five percent pay American teachers receive compared to college graduates in other professions. Totally worth learning all those extra vowel sounds.