Tips&TricksRevolutionizing education: Why the Scandinavian school system outshines traditional approach

Revolutionizing education: Why the Scandinavian school system outshines traditional approach

The school in Finland teaches practical skills.
The school in Finland teaches practical skills.
Images source: © Adobe Stock

10:44 AM EST, January 29, 2024, updated: 4:40 AM EST, March 7, 2024

For a majority of us, school provides unpleasant memories, some of which still cause discomfort even today. The system of punishments and rewards, constant favoritism, immense demands, preparation solely for exams, and the absence of practical life skills teaching have all contributed to the dissatisfaction of several generations of graduates. In contrast, such conditions don't exist in Scandinavia. Here, the education system has evolved to include much more effective teaching methods.

The structure of a Scandinavian school

In this environment, you won't find the traditional lecture-style classes. Instead, there are practical classes that encourage creativity. Students have the opportunity to suggest study subjects in so-called Öppna laborationer, or laboratories, manage their preparation, and also learn to work in groups. What distinguishes these schools is the autonomy of the teacher who is unencumbered by a specific teaching plan and paperwork, allowing for a focus on their students' individuality, without displaying favoritism or passing negative judgement on their students.

In Scandinavian schools, children are not subjected to the routine tests we are familiar with. Instead, teachers concentrate on the abilities of their students, nurturing them in a supportive environment. This approach instills values of teamwork and responsibility in children, skills that are crucial for adulthood. These education systems prefer using thematic blocks, integrating several subjects into one. Scandinavian children do not rely on bulky, overstuffed textbooks for learning, but rather, the primary focus of their education is "practical resourcefulness", which they develop through discussions, presentations, and fostering a close relationship with their teacher.

Defining features of Scandinavian schools

The underlying key principle Friluftsliv holds significant value in Scandinavian society and directly influences their education system. Regardless of weather conditions, children from the age of 3 spend a substantial amount of time outdoors, contributing greatly to their development. In fact, nearly one third of their classes are held outdoors, and they even have a specific day termed as uteskole, which is education in a natural setting. Through innovative outdoor activities, children develop a remarkable connection with nature, learn to navigate challenges, and from an early age, understand the importance of respecting the environment. Some popular activities include map reading, navigating through forests, or finding their way out of a maze.

From our perspective, these schooling practices may seem radical, but the results they produce are undeniable, as evidenced by the PISA studies. Despite not focusing solely on test performances, students from Scandinavia consistently achieve top education results. If a student excels in one subject, they can attend higher-grade classes, and if they need additional support in another area, they have the option to further their learning in lower grade classes. Doesn’t this seem like an ideal learning environment?

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