The Truth about Finland

Ritta Mikkola gives us some insight into what is happening in Finnish schools

Over the last two years, at various conferences and meetings, people have been pointing at Finland as the country which will “abolish” all school subjects. Posts about this have in fact gone viral a number of times. This lead us to talk with our Board Member from Finland, Riita Mikkola, to find out more. Will history disappear?

1. There are many articles online that explain that Finland has abolished school subjects. You are a history teacher. Will you stop teaching history?
“No, I won’t. History is and will be taught as a separate subject in primary and secondary schools in Finland.”
2. How has the teaching of history changed recently in Finland?
“We have a new curricula in primary and secondary schools. The emphasis is more on skills of history than it used to be, but this process has been going on already earlier. We also try to involve pupils more in their own learning and concentrate on the skills of learning. Integrating school subjects is one of our aims, too.”
3. What is your view on the idea of integrating school subjects more?
“It’s a good idea on a certain scale, but subjects need their own time, too, since their approach to the world is different. We do multidisciplinary projects in Finland and at their best they can really work well.”
4. Why do you think many people in other countries find it so interesting that subjects might be abolished?
“Abolishing all school subjects and teaching everything integrated is something really new and revolutionary. I would be interested in it, too, if I heard it’s really happening somewhere.”

To find out more about education reform in Finland in the last few years, see this article from 2015 explaining the changes, and a BBC News video from earlier this year which speaks to teachers and students in Finland.