Is teaching just about giving lessons and having long holidays? This appears to be the prevailing opinion in many countries, but there’s much more to the picture, especially in Finland.
The teaching standard in Finnish grade schools has been attracting considerable attention worldwide in recent years. The subject that has probably received the most attention is natural sciences education, which is, for example according to the OECD’s PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) study, world-class in Finland, in terms of both average scores and scoring consistency. In many other countries, achieving such scores would require more lessons, and voluntary after-school classes are more the rule than the exception in those cultures.
Educational engines such as Finland’s Science Education Centre LUMA, and its associated network, strive to foster and uphold the quality and visibility of mathematics and science in the country. The LUMA network promotes the development and implementation of learning and teaching techniques, and aims to increase awareness of the importance of the LUMA subjects (natural science and mathematics). Expanding co-operation with schools, universities, youth organisations and business and trade, as well as lifetime support for learning are helping to keep the level of competence in the LUMA subjects high – now and in future.
The reasons behind Finland’s success can also be found in the national teaching curriculum’s foundations and in teacher education. The teaching curriculums are student focussed and teacher education is research based. Future teachers are not simply taught to manage subjects, they are also taught pedagogical skills – i.e. trained to develop their own teaching skills and to keep abreast of the events taking place in the scientific circles of their own teaching disciplines.