Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Finland Implements Radical Ed Reform Program; From "Teaching by Subject" to "Teaching by Topic"

Finland -- whose school system is one of the best in the world -- has embarked on one of the most radical education reform programs ever undertaken by a nation; namely, scrapping traditional "teaching by subject" in favor of "teaching by topic," the Independent (British) website reports today (March 24, 2015).

"This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we're just beginning," said Liisa Pohjolainen, who is in charge of youth and adult education in Helsinki -- the capital city at the forefront of the reform program. Indeed, Finland's new educational reform program is expected to be adopted by many other nations in the near future, in order to enhance the teaching-learning process and to make learning more useful for today's society.

Pasi Silander, the city's development manager, explained: "What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life. Young people use quite advanced computers. In the past the banks had lots of bank clerks totting up figures but now that has totally changed. We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society."

Subject-specific lessons -- an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon -- are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city's upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call "phenomenon" teaching -- or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take "cafeteria services" lessons, which would include elements of math, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills, and communication skills.

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