Finland's school system is rated the best in the world – and here is why 4 years ago

Finland's school system is rated the best in the world – and here is why

Finland has for a long time been hailed as having one of the very best education systems in the world.

In fact, Finland’s education system sits at the top of global rankings. And apart from producing some of the world’s best students, Finland also boasts of having the happiest school children in the world.

And with anxiety and stress becoming a growing concern among parents of school-age children in Ireland – and other countries – today, you have to ask: what’s the Finnish secret?

Well, for starters, the entire Finnish education system is extremely centered around what is best for the child, and founded on the principle that children should be allowed to be, well, children.

Finnish children don't start school until the year they turn seven (meaning they get to enjoy several more years of freedom and childhood before becoming chained to a desk). And as well as this, Finnish children enjoy shorter school days, more time spent outdoors, both for breaks and as part of the actual curriculum, and guess what; they have no homework.

“[Finnish students] do not have homework,” confirms Krista Kiuru, Finland's Minister of Education, to Smart Parenting.  “They should have more time to be kids, to be youngsters, to enjoy their life.”

What this means, of course, is that instead of being stuck at home and in front of their study desks, Finnish kids get to explore, meet with friends, and climb trees.

Oh, and it doesn't end there. Younger school children in the Nordic country spend just 20 hours of school a week, around three or four hours a day. “Your brain has to relax every now and then. If you just constantly work, then you stop learning. And there's no use in doing that for a longer period of time,” says school principal Leena Liusvaara. "Adults find it difficult to get anything done when they’re overworked and tired. And so do kids."


In international ratings, the Finnish school system always comes out in the top ten. But they are not ready to rest on their laurels just yet, and have just decided drop traditional school subjects from their curriculum – meaning there will no longer be specific classes or books in physics, math, literature, history, or geography.

This is what Department of Education in Helsinki, Marjo Kyllonen, has to say about the changes:

“There are schools that are teaching in the old-fashioned way which was of benefit at the beginning of the 1900s — but the needs are not the same, and we need something fit for the 21st century.“

According to Kyllonen, 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.

This system will be introduced for senior students, beginning at the age of 16, and 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,” Kyllonen explains.

What do you think about this, mamas? Would YOU like to see a more Finnish way of learning introduced in Ireland? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @Herfamilydotie

(Feature image via