Finland: It’s Not Just For Reindeer Anymore.

Tom Hoffman sent me a link to the Finn’s national standards for education in response to a post I put up recently about searching for higher purpose in English. I didn’t even get to the Finn language arts standards. I arrested on five pages describing “cross-curricular themes” that apply across all disciplines in Finland. These themes are clarified, in the most firm language, before anything at all related to specific curriculum is addressed.

I’ll just quote some of them here. They are verbatim: 60% of Finnish adults are English-literate. Read these. Take some time to ponder them. Chew on them.


The need and desire of students for life-long learning must be reinforced.

Cooperation, interaction and communication skills must be developed by means of different forms of collaborative learning.

Upper secondary schools must develop students’ abilities to recognize and deal with ethical issues involving communities and individuals.

Education must help students recognize their personal uniqueness.

Education must stimulate students to engage in artistic activities, to participate in artistic and cultural life, and to adopt lifestyles that promote health and well-being.

Students will be capable of facing the challenges presented by the changing world in a flexible manner, be familiar with means of influence, and possess the will and courage to take action.

An upper secondary school community must create prerequisites for experiencing inclusion, reciprocal support and justice. These are important sources of joy in life.

Human beings must learn how to adapt to the conditions of nature and the limits set by global sustainability.

Upper secondary schools must reinforce students’ positive cultural identity and knowledge of cultures.

Technology is based on knowledge of the laws of nature.

Students will observe and critically analyze the relationship between the world as described by media, and reality.


I feel as if I have been handed something which, in this climate of national standards development, needs to be on Arne Duncan’s desk tomorrow, and I’m going to be messing around with my blog and personal contacts to see how far I can get with this ridiculous and lofty goal. Suggestions, comments, forwards, and general publicity from readers would be most welcome.

The whole Finnish document can be found here.

One thought on “Finland: It’s Not Just For Reindeer Anymore.

  1. Interesting. I live in Norway and there is a huge difference between Finnish and Norwegian schools, but much of what you quote could come from the Norwegian core curriculum . In English and well worth a glance. There is also the more recent ‘Learning Poster’ which states among other things that schools shall:

    – give all pupils equal opportunities to develop their abilities and talents individually and in cooperation with others
    – stimulate the stamina, curiosity and desire of pupils to learn
    – stimulate pupils to develop their own learning strategies and critical-thinking abilities
    – stimulate pupils in their personal development, in the development of identity and ethical, social and cultural competence, and in the ability to understand democracy and democratic participation.
    – facilitate for pupil participation and enable pupils to make informed value choices and choices relating to their education and future professions
    – promote adapted teaching and varied work methods

    You can check out the Norwegian first-language curriculum here

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