Finland offers 'phenomena' over subjects in schools

Signal of change / Finland offers 'phenomena' over subjects in schools

By Anna Simpson / 25 Mar 2015

Finland is scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic” - a reform The Independent has called "one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state".  

For instance, rather than studying history, economics and foreign languages in separate classes, students might draw on all three 'disciplines' to explore a topic - such as the European Union. 

“What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life," Pasi Silander, Helsinki's city manager told The Independent.  “We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society.”

Image: David Jones / Flickr

So what?

On a practical and individual level, this reform will help to equip young people with the skills to apply their learning to challenges in society. 

But it will also affect the way they think.

Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, told The Independent, "When you teach subjects separate from one another - you teach science, you teach math, you teach reading - that means that there's a divorce between these contents, when in real life, they're not ... When you're cultivating a garden, you've got to know a lot about botany, insects, fertilizer, math, and a whole bunch of other things."

Will Finland produce a new generation of systems thinkers: people equipped to  see how things influence one another within a system? How might such a generation change the way cities, industries and economies operate? How might they respond to systemic challenges, from climate change to resource scarcity and population growth? 


The Independent (2015, March 20) Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

Looking forward to seeing the results post 2020 once this is in place -
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