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In the late 1960s, a Finnish teacher named Matti Pitkänen was hiking in the mountains when he came across a group of reindeer herders. Curious about their way of life, he began asking questions and learning from them. This experience inspired him to develop a new approach to education, one that would prioritize creativity, innovation, and lifelong learning.
Today, Finland’s education system consistently ranks among the best in the world, with a strong focus on equity and access for all students. One key element of their approach is the emphasis on lifelong learning, which is seen as essential for success in a rapidly changing world.
When it comes to education, Finland consistently ranks among the best in the world. However, the Finnish approach isn’t just about producing high test scores – it’s about creating a system that supports the lifelong learning of its citizens. Here are some lessons that lifelong learners can take away from the Finnish education system.
- Prioritize play and creativity: In Finland, children don’t start formal education until the age of seven, and even then, the emphasis is on play-based learning. This approach prioritizes creativity, curiosity, and exploration, which are all important qualities for lifelong learning.
- Foster a love of reading: The Finnish education system places a strong emphasis on literacy. Children have access to well-stocked school and public libraries, and teachers actively encourage reading for pleasure. This focus on literacy can help lifelong learners continue to acquire knowledge and expand their horizons.
- Emphasize teacher training: Finnish teachers are highly trained and respected professionals. They are required to hold a master’s degree in education and receive ongoing professional development throughout their careers. This emphasis on training and professional development can serve as a model for lifelong learners who want to continuously improve their skills and knowledge.
- Provide equal access to education: In Finland, all children have equal access to education, regardless of their family’s income or social status. This focus on equality ensures that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of their background.
One inspiring example of the Finnish approach to lifelong learning is the story of Anna Kantanen. Despite growing up in a small town with limited opportunities, Anna was able to pursue her passion for music thanks to the Finnish education system. She received a comprehensive education that included music classes, and was even able to attend a specialized music high school. Today, Anna is a successful musician, and she credits her education with giving her the foundation she needed to pursue her dreams.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Finnish education system and its approach to lifelong learning, here are two resources to get you started:
- “Finnish Lessons 3.0” by Pasi Sahlberg
- The Finnish National Agency for Education website (www.oph.fi)
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