26 Amazing Facts About Finland’s Unorthodox Education System

This is a summary of an article written by and posted a few years ago at Business Insider. Taylor begins,

Since it implemented huge education reforms 40 years ago, Finland’s school system has consistently come at the top for the international rankings for education systems.

So how do they do it?

It’s simple — by going against the evaluation-driven, centralized model that much of the Western world uses.

And here are the 26 things he lists:

  1. Finnish children don’t start school until they are 7.
  2. Compared with other systems, they rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens.
  3. The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.
  4. There is only one mandatory standardized test in Finland, taken when children are 16.
  5. All children, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms.
  6. Finland spends around 30 percent less per student than the United States.
  7. 30 percent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.
  8. 66 percent of students go to college. (The highest rate in Europe)
  9. The difference between weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the World. [Ted note: I assume they mean academically, not physically.]
  10. Science classes are capped at 16 students so that they may perform practical experiments every class.
  11. 93 percent of Finns graduate from high school. (17.5% higher than in U.S.)
  12. 43 percent of Finnish high-school students go to vocational schools.
  13. Elementary school students get 75 minutes of recess a day in Finnish versus an average of 27 minutes in the US.
  14. Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for “professional development.”
  15. Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students. (600,000 students compared to 1.1 million in NYC.)
  16. The school system is 100% state funded.
  17. All teachers in Finland must have a masters degree, which is fully subsidized.
  18. The national curriculum is only broad guidelines.
  19. Teachers are selected from the top 10% of graduates.
  20. In 2010, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots.
  21. The average starting salary for a Finnish teacher was $29,000 in 2008. (Compared with $36,000 in the United States.)
  22. However, high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what other college graduates make. (In the US, this figure is 62%.)
  23. There is no merit pay for teachers.
  24. Teachers are effectively given the same status as doctors and lawyers.
  25. In an international standardized measurement in 2001, Finnish children came top or very close to the top for science, reading and mathematics. (It’s consistently come top or very near every time since.)
  26. And despite the differences between Finland and the US, it easily beats countries with a similar demographic. (Neighbor Norway, of a similar size and featuring a similar homogeneous culture, follows the same same strategies as the USA and achieves similar rankings in international studies.)

Sources he cites include:

And a few more sources for you: