Finnish Lessons 2.0 A Presentation by Ethaniel C. AUbrey-Mitchell

Sahlberg, P. (2015). Finnish lessons 2.0: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? (2nd Ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press


"During the next 10 years about 1.2 billion young 15-30 years olds will be engering the job market and with the means now at our disposal about 300 million will get a job. what will we offer these young, about a billion of them?"

-Former president of Finland, 1994-2000 and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

"It has become clear everywhere that the schools we have today will not be able to provide opportunities for students to learn what is necessary in the future."

-Finnish Teaching Lessons 2.0, Pasi Sahlberg pg. 1

Finnish Education Reform

-Had to relocate 11% of population after soviets took it from them for war purposes

-Economy plummets

-Soviets disband

-Education is a vehicle for economic healing


New Programs are Made

  • Primary School Curriculum Committee (1945) – Matti Koskenniemi
  • Education System Committee (1946) – Yrjö Ruut
  • School Program Committee
  • (1956) – Reino Henrik Oittinen
  • 9-year municipal comprehensive school (1959, School Program Committee)

Philosophy Change

Test scores were avg; Global ranking were not impressive

  • Realized that not everyone can learn everything
  • Not everyone learns the same
  • Goal to individualize learning experiencee

Restructure of Schools

  • The first four grades would be common to all students
  • Grades 5 and 6 (sort of like middle school) could choose to focus on either practical subjects or foreign languages
  • Grades 7 through 9 (High School-ish) would have three streams : vocational / average (1 foreign language) / advanced (2)

Upper Secondary Schools

  • 18 compulsory subjects
  • 75 courses of 38 lessons each
  • assessing each period ( 6 or 7 weeks )
  • Details help students choose their courses/schools
  • No standardized testing; still tested just stakes not as high
  • Counseling and career guidance 2 hours a week for 3 years


  • Matriculation Examination – mother tongue(Comp. our equivalent to an English class) foreign language, mathematics, humanity or science(3 of them)
  • twice a year, pencil-and-paper tests, during three consecutive exam periods (Held every 1.5 years)
  • all subjects require extensive writings in open-ended tasks ( 6 hours max to each)
  • Take 10 seconds and think of one way that Finland's new education system that you like.
  • Break into two teams
  • Whisper your idea to your partner(s) sitting next to you
  • Decide on a single idea you would like to act out
  • One side has 30 seconds to act out to the other team WITHOUT TALKING while the other team guesses
  • Discuss what you think about their education reform in comparison to the United States

There is more than one way to to do things

"There is more than one way to skin a cat." --Dr. Frank Tracz

Two Different Models that the Book Compares:

  • Global Education Reform Movement
  • Finnish Model
HA! Germ...Get it?...


  • Competition between Schools
  • Standardized Learning/tests
  • Focus on literacy and numeracy
  • Test Based accountability
  • School Choice

Finnish Model

  • Collaboration among schools
  • Personalized Learning
  • Folcus on the whole child
  • Trust-Based Responsibility
  • Equity of Outcomes

Big Changes Since the 1970's in Finland: How Money Effected the Schools


  • 1970's: Small, open, state regulated economy; Fostered industrial structures in attempt to build economy; Systems for unemployment, work-life balance, access to further Ed, and Housing; Emphasis on equity and equal access to education
  • 1980's: Welfare state is now built; in process of restructuring economic regulations; Rapid growth in metal and wood industry; restructuring unemployment system, early retirement is now available; Student loan, welfare, and medical systems are now built; restructure of secondary education
  • 1990's: Country's economy is thriving, more private companies start popping up, banks are restructured; recession cuts employment benefits, new employment policy system reform; fixing effects of economy hit, for those in-debt and long term unemployed; empowering teachers and schools, funding them, paying their teachers more, putting money into the education system
  • 2000's: Strengthening of the performing parts of economy, revising policies to match the reality; focus on providing services is increased; People are becoming employed again; Renewal of immigration legislation, makes country more diverse in peoples; Renewing education legislation, strengthening policies, and tightening state control over schools; size of schools increase

Borrowed Strategies

As educators ourselves, many of our strategies are borrowed. Finland is no different

Some of the most successful strategies are:

  • John Dewey's Philosophy of Ed--Life skills are emphasized, less lectures and more speech from the students, enhance student social and decision making skills
  • Cooperative learning
  • Multiple Intelligences
  • Alternative Classroom Assignments
  • Peer Coaching

Reform did not happen over night

  • Change takes time
  • Many people supported the reform that occurred over time, but many did not
  • Model was kind of an experiment that evolved over time and turned out ok
  • Many people challenged that competition between schools/students, standardized testing, and a more capitalistic approach to schooling was how students would reach full potential
  • That said, some thought that equal opportunity would hinder student potential


Finland proved the world wrong when they out-performed more than half of the world with high test scores.

Now there are other arguments surfacing saying that the Global Educational Reform Movement (GERM) has toxic influences

Final Thoughts

  • Finland offers equal education opportunities for all
  • Teaching is a profession that is looked well upon; and it is still growing
  • Finland has good individualized accountability in students while still being able to be evaluated in their assessments
  • Finland has taught students to be leaders

Their Philosophies for Success

  • Less classroom based teaching
  • More personalized learning
  • Focus on social skills, empathy, and leadership
  • The purpose of schooling is to find your talent

What do you think is the future of Finland's Education System?

What is the future of ours?


Created with images by markusspiske - "child play kindergarten"

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