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Thanks to the “eyes” on the Internet – you know the ones I mean. The ones that see everything we read, see, do, land on, and probably even think about!! Those eyes send me lots of educationally related articles.

Most of them I delete. But one caught my eye this week.

This article listed ten educational practices that Finland does differently. Finland is one of the countries that always scores high on international rankings and comparisons.

Formal education in Finland begins at age seven. Finnish children do attend pre-school at the very high rate of 97%, BUT pre-school begins at age five! The emphasis in pre-school is playing and socializing!

In the US we stress if our incoming kindergarteners (age 5) do not already know their alphabet and numbers, and would really prefer that they are able to read very simple books.

Recess! We all loved recess, but these days recess is almost a lost concept. Move to Finland! Children there average 75 minutes of recess daily. Each day a child has five lessons. After completing each lesson, the child gets 15 minutes of recess.

Now here’s a fact that every American student will love! Finnish students take ONE TEST. That one test is given at the end of their education. There is also very little homework. Another aspect of Finnish education that eliminates the need for constant testing is that one person instructs the same group of students throughout their educational career. The teachers know these kids.

There are about 20 students per class. Supplemental teachers who have been specifically trained to assist students who may have learning disabilities or behavioral problems are in each classroom.

Teachers are provided guidelines for what they must teach, but are given the freedom to teach however they want.

Teachers teach about four hours per day, but spend about two hours per day developing their curriculum and assessing student progress.

All Finnish teachers must have a master’s degree. There are only eight national colleges that offer these and there are very few spots open each year. The competition for the spots is very competitive.

At the age of 16 students who may be more interested in vocational training may opt out of additional traditional education. The other students attend Finnish high schools. Note that high school begins at age 16!

Finland is a much smaller country than the United States and much more homogeneous. These two factors make it possible for some of these practices to be successful. Twenty children in a class with the same teacher for 10 or 12 years would likely be an impossible goal here.

Finland also pays for the entire college education of its teachers. Securing a master’s degree is so competitive that over 6600 students applied for only 600 available spots in 2010. Again this is a cultural element.

In my next few posts I am going to explore further a few of Finland’s practices and compare them to ours. I’d love to hear your opinions!

The information for this post was taken from info.mathcloud.net/teachers-and-education.