When I was on exchange in Helsinki, Finland last year, I visited a Finnish elementary school for two days (after trying my luck through different channels), where I – armed with a short presentation on Singapore and the Chinese language – interacted with teachers, helped out for a cooking class, and tried to communicate with the young schoolchildren with whatever Finnish I knew. That was a great experience.
Read “Two Days In A Finnish Elementary School“, and here’s a short excerpt:
On my first day, as Heidi wheeled in a portable stove-set for her students to prepare tom kha in the classroom (her class was exploring Asia, and Thailand was the country for the day), I asked about her design of curricula and pedagogies. She is granted tremendous autonomy in her instruction methodologies, chooses the appropriate textbooks, and often crafts her own material and lessons plans. Faith in the educators is well-justified because the profession is very well-respected, and they must hold a Master’s degree to qualify for the training college.
There is also great flexibility in assessments. While it is true that the standardised, nationally graded matriculation examination is administered only after upper secondary education, educators themselves decide how to grade the annual report card. Continual evaluations can take the form of reading assignments, verbal exercises, written projects, or they are usually a combination of the aforementioned. They determine if homework is necessary too.