Emily Columpsi

"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery" -Mark Van Doren

Subjects To Topics

Photo Credit: schoolux via Compfight cc

Education in Finland is hailed internationally for their extremely high educational ‘outcomes’ –or standards, as we know them to be. For many years, they have been international leaders in both numeracy and literacy. However, now the education community in Finland has decided to take on a new approach. According to this article by Richard Garner, Finland is scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” and replacing it with “teaching by topic” or what the Finns call “Phenomenon” teaching. The idea is to introduce a specific topic and then integrate all of the different subject areas that relate to it at one time. The example they provided in the article was, “a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services’ lessons, which would include elements of math’s, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.” With this new approach, however, comes other changes within the classroom. For instance, there will be more collaboration between teachers and students, with students working in small groups to solve problems and teachers collaborating on lessons plans. Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager stated, “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.” In other words, the Finnish want to make changes in their education that are necessary for society, and according to their research, this approach shows that students are really benefiting.

I find this new approach in education really interesting. What do you think? Do you think this is a good idea? Why or why not?


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