Teaching Holistically

Finland is switching its educational paradigm. They are doing this to create a better learning experience for their students.

Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world – including the UK – have made pilgrimages to Helsinki in the hope of identifying and replicating the secret of its success.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic”.

There are other changes too, not least to the traditional format that sees rows of pupils sitting passively in front of their teacher, listening to lessons or waiting to be questioned. Instead there will be a more collaborative approach, with pupils working in smaller groups to solve problems while improving their communication skills.

In spite of doing an excellent job of teaching their students, Finland is actively charting a different route(phenomena teaching).

I think it makes sense to teach in a more holisitc manner. There is no need to exclude math, geography or any other subject when trying to learn a subject. The more mental “hooks” you can create in a topic, the better it is rememebered. I suspect that students seeing the practical application of math, geography, and science in understanding history may gain a better appreaciton for each of these subjects rather than learning things in isolation.

Early data shows that students are benefiting too. In the two years since the new teaching methods first began being introduced, pupil “outcomes” – they prefer that word to standards – have improved.

This seems a great deal more common sense approach than then “No child left behind“. This policy seems to rely on punative measure to create a nation of test takers rather than learners.


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