By Jacob Hill.
School in Finland is drastically different than ours. We go sit in classrooms for eight hours, four or five days a week. Finnish students have only an hour or two of class time, and little or no homework ever. Contrary to what might be expected, they have the best rated educational system in the entire world. Their secret lies in the fact that most of the schools the kids go to in Finland have their instruction outdoors. While there is learning done in a schoolroom, it averages less than four hours a day – the rest of the time is spent outdoors. They run around, play games, explore, or whatever they please. This builds large amounts of self-reliance, communication, cooperation, and connection with others. Time spent with others their respective age allows young students to develop effective social skills. Additionally, the shorter classes enables students to more effectively focus on the lesson, and retain and understand the material. On top of that, because they accomplish most of the discovering, learning, and growing on their own, these changes are never forgotten. In America, children are essentially trained to be factory workers. We sit in straight lines, do exactly as we’re told, and raise our hands to speak. We have small breaks, and eight-hour school days. That sounds strikingly similar to a normal workday in a factory.
Why don’t we give every student their own personal curriculum and education? In Finland, students are often one-on-one with their teachers. This allows them to learn at their own level and pace. When a class is simply lectured at from a podium, some people understand while others struggle. The classroom society of our schools kills originality and self-reliance because other people can help with what you don’t know. This is not right. A change must be made.
Now, I’m not pleading drastic changes all at once. Frankly, that could cause even more problems, but it also reveals another point of conflict. We Americans are so dependent on what we know and have right now that we’re afraid to change something, and not understand it. Our schools are suffering, yet no one wants to risk doing anything different. We must take a stand, those few that are willing to risk it. If we try, others will join us. Regardless, we cannot simply allow our education to plummet in value, and drag our nation right along with it. We should be taught to prepare for the future, not be trapped in a failing tradition. We, the students, are the future of our nation. It rests on our shoulders alone. If we are not ready for the weight, what will happen when we fall? Education is the foundation to a truly “great” America. And our foundation is cracked and worn. It’s time to make a change, and lay a new foundation.Today, we are facing a crisis. America boasts of its freedom and so-called limitless possibilities, and yet beneath this golden shell, a festering and unsavory truth lurks. We, the United States of America, are struggling, and it isn’t a fight that we are winning. Our grand country is beginning to fade, and others are rushing to take our place. But despite our frequent and seemingly earnest efforts, we are constantly withheld from achieving our goals . And one of our greatest and most difficult roadblocks? Education. Our schools are not what they should be. Students are not learning so much as reciting facts and formulas for a test that will likely never impact their lives again. When it comes to overall knowledge and understanding, our “great nation” is terribly represented. In a number of studies done over the past few years, some disturbing data was collected.
Out of all the adults in America, less than 40% have completed at least an Associate’s Degree. Even just basic education is lacking in our society. In a test to discover the average literacy rate in the 50 states, it was found that 14% of all adults in the U.S. can’t even read. That’s around 32 million adults. On top of that, a further 19% of high school graduates can’t read either. How come our national educational standards are so low? Why can’t we figure out a way to learn and teach more effectively? Fortunately for us, there may be a solution. Believe it or not, it comes from the unlikely country of Finland.