Schools in Finland to teach topics as compliment to subjects

Winter in Helsinki, Finland.

Finland is set to make big changes in its delivery of modern education with the introduction of 'phenomenon' learning.

Already considered a world leader in education, Finland plans to implement a new system that will teach Finnish students by topics, in what Finnish educators are describing as ‘phenomenon’ teaching.

The concept is a move away from educating only through individual ‘subjects’ and towards inter-disciplinary topics.

Finland is planning an ambitious overhaul of its education system with the introduction of topic-based learning.
Finland is planning an ambitious overhaul of its education system with the introduction of topic-based learning.

As well as lessons for subjects such as maths and history, students may for instance now also spend a two hour session learning about topics such as the European Union, which would cover aspects of language, economics, history and geography.

The new learning elements are set to teach students in a more 21st century fashion, encouraging students to work in groups and with more interactive problem solving.

The new learning methodology will be part of the basic school reform in Finland taking place with the introduction of a new National Curriculum Framework (NCF) set to come into effect in August 2016.

Next years reform change will see that all basic schools for 7 to 16 year olds must have at least one extended period of multi-faceted, phenomenon-based teaching and learning in their curriculum.

The NCF 2016 also states that students must be involved in the planning of phenomenon-based study periods as part of the group-work based learning approach.

Helsinki education manager Marjo Kyllonen is one of those leading the charge for the teaching changes.

She said the new system was needed to develop career-ready skills for today’s students.

“We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow,” she said.

“There are schools that are teaching in the old fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginnings of the 1900s – but the needs are not the same and we need something fit for the 21st century.”

Finland, famous for its freezing climate, is also revered as having one of the best education systems in the world, ranking third in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Finnish educators hope that the new learning reform will help to maintain the country’s high global standing in industries such as Information Technology (No.1 in a Global Information Technology 2014 report by the World Economic Forum) by producing talent for the future which has been harnessed by a more practical and applied learning educational system.