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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.“We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society.” Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools.They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic.For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy.Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings.Teachers who embrace this new system can receive a small top-up in salary.About 70 per cent of the city’s high school teachers have now been trained in adopting the new approach, according to Mr Silander. “It is quite difficult to get teachers to start and take the first step…
But there would currently be little appetite in the UK for going as far as ditching traditional subjects.
For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.
More academic pupils would be taught cross-subject topics such as the European Union - which would merge elements of economics, history (of the countries involved), languages and geography.
Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager – who will be presenting her blueprint for change to the council at the end of this month, said: “It is not only Helsinki but the whole of Finland who will be embracing change.
“We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow.