11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”.


When I left my 7th grade math classroom for my Fulbright research assignment in Finland I thought I would come back from this experience with more inspiring, engaging, innovative lessons.  I expected to have great new ideas on how to teach my mathematics curriculum and I would revamp my lessons so that I could include more curriculum, more math and get students to think more, talk more and do more math.

This drive to do more and More and MORE is a state of existence for most teachers in the US….it is engrained in us from day one.  There is a constant pressure to push our students to the next level to have them do bigger and better things.  The lessons have to be more exciting, more engaging and cover more content.  This phenomena  is driven by data, or parents, or administrators or simply by our work-centric society where we gauge our success as a human being by how busy we are and how burnt out we feel at the end of the day.  We measure our worth with completed lists and we criminalize down time.  We teach this “work till you drop” mentality to our students who either simply give up somewhere along the way or become as burnt out as we find ourselves.

When I arrived in Finland I did not find big flashy innovative thought provoking math lessons.  I did not find students who were better at mathematics or knew more math content.  In fact the Jr. High and High school math classrooms have been rather typical of what I have experienced in Indiana.  And most of the struggles (like students not remembering their basic math facts) were the same.  The instruction and classroom structure of a math classroom in Finland follows the basic formula that has been performed by math teachers for centuries: The teachers go over homework, they present a lesson (some of the kids listen and some don’t), and then they assign homework.  While some lectures have been wonderful and I have gotten to observe some fantastic teachers, I would say that on the whole I have seen more engaging and interactive secondary math instruction from teachers in the United States.  It is rare to see a math lesson that is measurably better than those found in my district and I have seen several that were actually far worse.

So, what is the difference?  If the instruction in secondary mathematics is the same or sometimes worse than those found in the US,  why are Finnish students succeeding and ours are failing?  The difference is not the instruction. Good teaching is good teaching and it can be found in both Finland and in the US.   (The same can be said for bad teaching.)  The difference is less tangible and more fundamental.  Finland truly believes “Less is More.”  This national mantra is deeply engrained into the Finnish mindset and is the guiding principal to Finland’s educational philosophy.

Less IS more. 

They believe it.  They live by it. Their houses are not larger than what they need in which to comfortably live.  They do not buy or over consume.  They live simply and humbly.  They don’t feel the need to have 300 types of cereal to choose from when 10 will do.  The women wear less make-up.  The men don’t have giant trucks (or any vehicles at all, really).  Instead of buying hundreds of cheap articles of clothing the Finns buy a few expensive items of high quality that will last for decades rather than months.  They truly believe and live by the mentality of less is more.

Conversely in the US we truly believe “more is more” and we constantly desire and pursue more in all areas of our lives.  We are obsessed with all things new, shiny and exciting and are constantly wanting to upgrade our lives.  Out with the old in with the new!  This mentality of “more is more”  creeps into all areas of our lives and it confuses and stifles our education system.

We can’t even stick to ONE philosophy of education long enough to see if it actually works.  We are constantly trying new methods, ideas and initiatives.  We keep adding more and more to our plates without removing any of the past ideas.  Currently we believe “more” is the answer to all of our education problems— everything can be solved with MORE classes, longer days, MORE homework, MORE assignments, MORE pressure, MORE content, MORE meetings,  MORE after school tutoring, and of course MORE testing!   All this is doing is creating MORE burnt out teachers, MORE stressed out students and MORE frustration.

Finland on the other hand believes less is more.  This is exemplified in several ways for both teachers and students.

Less = More

1.  Less Formal Schooling = More Options

Students in Finland start formal schooling at the age of seven.  Yes, seven!  Finland allows their children to be children, to learn through playing and exploring rather than sitting still locked up in a classroom.   But don’t they get behind?  No!  The kids start school when they are actually developmentally ready to learn and focus.  This first year is followed by only nine years of compulsory school.  Everything after ninth grade is optional and at the age of 16 the students can choose from the following three tracks:

• Upper Secondary School:  This three year program prepares students for the Matriculation Test that determines their acceptance into University.  Students usually pick which upper secondary school they would like to attend based on the school’s specialties and apply to get into that institution.  I think of this as a mixture of High School and College.  (In recent years a little less than 40% choose this option.)

Vocational Education:  This is a three year program that trains students for various careers as well as gives them the option to take the Matriculation test to then apply for University should they so choose.  However, the students in this track are usually content with their skill  and  either enter the workforce or they go on to a Poly-technical College to get further training. (A little less than 60% choose this track.)

(But wait!  Shouldn’t everyone take calculus, economics, and advanced chemistry?!  Shouldn’t everyone get a University degree?!  No, not everyone has to go to University! Hmmm….. interesting….. What if we provided options for those who want to become successful (and very profitable) welders or electricians?  What if we didn’t force students who know that their talents reside outside of the world of formal academics to take three years of high school classes that they found boring and useless?  What if we allowed them to train in and explore vocations they found fascinating and in which they were gifted? What if we made these students feel valued and like they had a place in the education realm?)

• Enter the workforce. (Less than 5% choose this path)

2.  Less Time in School = More Rest

Students typically start school between 9:00 and 9:45.   Actually,  Helsinki is thinking of creating a law stating that schools cannot begin before 9:00 am because research has consistently proved that adolescents need quality sleep in the morning.  The school day usually ends by 2:00 or 2:45.  Some days they start earlier and some days they start later.  Finnish students’ schedules are always different and changing; however they typically have three to four 75 minute classes a day with several breaks in between.  This overall system allows both students and teachers to be well rested and ready to teach/learn.

3.  Fewer Instruction Hours = More Planning Time

Teachers have shorter days as well.  According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)  an average Finnish teacher teaches 600 hours annually or about 4 or less lessons daily.   An average U.S. teacher almost doubles that teaching time with an average of over 1,080 hours of in-class instruction annually.  This equals an average of six or more lessons daily.  Also, teachers and students in Finland are not expected to be at school when they do not have a class.  For example, if they don’t have any afternoon classes on Thursdays, they (both teachers and students) can simply leave.  Or if their first class on a Wednesday starts at 11:00, they don’t have to be at school until that time.  This system allows the Finnish teacher more time to plan and think about each lesson.  It allows them to create great, thought provoking lessons.

4.  Fewer Teachers  = More Consistency and Care 

Elementary students in Finland often have the SAME teacher for up to SIX YEARS of their education.  That is right!  The same teacher cares for, nurtures and tends to the education of the same group of students for six years in a row.  And you had better believe that during those six years with the same 15-20 students, those teachers have figured out the individual instructional needs and learning styles of each and every student. These teachers know where each of their students have been and where they are going.  They track the kids’ progress and have a personal invested interest in seeing the kids succeed and reach their goals.  There is no “passing the buck” onto the next teacher because they ARE the next teacher.  If there is a discipline or behavior problem, the teacher had better nip it in the bud right away or else deal with it the next six years.  ( Some schools in Finland only loop their elementary children for three years at a time instead of six, however the benefits are still the same. )

This system is not only helpful to a child because it gives them the consistency, care and individualized attention they need, it also helps the teachers understand the curriculum in a holistic and linear way. The teacher knows what they need to teach to get them to the next step, while also giving the teachers freedom to work at the pace of their students.  Teachers don’t feel the pressure to speed up or slow down  so that they are “ready” for the teacher next year.  Again, they are the teacher next year and they control the curriculum!  They know where the kids are and what they have learned and will plan according to the students’ needs!   I really believe this is a HUGE part of Finland’s success story and it does not receive enough attention.

5.  Fewer Accepted Applicants= More Confidence in Teachers

So……children have the same teacher for three to six years.  What if your kid gets a “bad teacher”?  Finland works very hard to make sure there are no “bad teachers.”  Primary education is THE most competitive degree to get in Finland.  The elementary education departments in Finland only accept 10% of all applicants and turns down thousands of students annually.  A person not only has to be the best and the brightest to become a primary teacher, they also have to have passed a series of interviews and personality screenings to get in.  So, it isn’t enough to be the smartest in your class, you also have to have the natural ability and drive to teach.

Finland understands that the ability to teach isn’t something that can be gained from studying. It is usually a gift and passion.  Some have it, some don’t.  The few universities with teaching programs in Finland make sure they only accept applicants that have that gift.  On top of excellent grades, and a natural disposition to be a teacher, all teachers must get a Master’s degree and write a Master’s Thesis.  This generates a lot of confidence and trust in Finland’s teachers.  Parents trust the teachers to be highly qualified, trained, and gifted individuals.  They do not try to interfere or usurp their authority and decisions.  I asked a math teacher how many emails they typically get from parents.  They shrugged and answered “About five or six”.  I said, “Oh, I get about that much a day too.”  They then answered…”No!  I meant five or six a semester!”  Again, what would it be like to live in a society based on trust and respect?

6.  Fewer Classes= More Breaks

As I stated before, students only have three to four (or rarely, five) classes a day.  They also have several breaks/recesses/ snack times during the day and these usually happen outside come rain or shine.  These 15 to 20 minute gives them time to digest what they are learning, use their muscles, stretch their legs, get some fresh air and let out the “wiggles.”   There are several neurological advantages for these breaks.  Study after study supports the need for children to be physically active in order to learn.  Stagnation of the body leads to stagnation of the brain and unfocused, “hyper” children.

The teachers also have these breaks.  The first day I was in a school in Finland a teacher apologized for the state of the “Teacher Room.”  She then commented on the fact that all teacher rooms must look like this.  I laughed and politely agreed, but in my head I was thinking; “What is a teacher room?”  A teacher’s room is what used to be called the teacher’s lounge in the U.S…back before they went extinct.  In Finland these rooms are always full of teachers who are either working, preparing, grabbing a cup of coffee, or simply resting, socializing, and mentally preparing for their next class.

Secondary level teachers usually have 10 to 20 minute breaks in between classes and often have a few skip (prep) periods as well.  These rooms are different depending on the school, but from what I can tell the basic formula is a few tables, a few couches, a coffee pot, a kitchen, a selection of free fruit and snacks, and teachers to talk and collaborate with.  A few of them even have massage chairs! Ha!

So, why don’t these rooms of collaboration, support and solace exist in the U.S.?   We do not have TIME!  Every day we teach six to seven classes in a row with no breaks.  The three to five minute passing periods we do get are often used to answer emails from parents, erase the board, get ready for the next class, make copies, answer student questions, pick up the mess left behind by the students, and (heaven forbid) go to the bathroom!  If we have a spare moment we are then expected to monitor the hallway because we can’t trust students to get to class without supervision.  The luxury of actually sitting down for 10 minutes and enjoying a cup of coffee with some colleagues is an absolute dream, and having a day with only three classes—that is a fantasy!

7. Less Testing = More Learning

Imagine all of the exciting things you could do with your students if there wasn’t a giant state test looming over your head every year.  Imagine the freedom you could have if your pay wasn’t connected to your student’s test scores.  Imagine how much more fun and engaging your lessons would be!

Although it still exists, there is overall less pressure on the teacher in Finland to get through the curriculum.  The teacher is simply trusted to do a good job and therefore they have more control over their classroom and its content. The teacher is able to take more risks and try new things and create exciting, engaging curriculum that allows students to become skilled individuals ready for the real world.  They have time to teach skills that allow students to develop into individuals who know how to start a project and work systematically to accomplish a goal.  They have time to teach craft education where students get to learn how to do real life skills like sewing, cooking, cleaning, woodworking and more!   And while they are learning these amazing skills they are also learning math and problem solving and how to follow directions!

8. Fewer Topics = More Depth

I have observed several fifth through ninth grade math classes in Finland.  I have looked at the curriculum covered over these five years of education and I realized that I attempt to teach the content of five years of  Finnish math education in one year.  Each math topic presented in every grade level I have observed here is include in my seventh grade curriculum.

Again, the American mentality of “more is more” simply does not work.  If I am to get through everything I am expected to do in one year I have to introduce a new topic/lesson every other day and I always feel “behind”.  Behind what, I am not sure, but the pressure is there pushing me and my students along.  In Finland, teachers take their time.  They look deeper into the topic and don’t panic if they are a little behind or don’t cover every topic in the existence of mathematics in a single year.

Also, students only have math a few times a week.  In fact, after Easter Break, all of my seventh graders only have math ONCE a week!  My heart still panics a little when I hear this!  I can’t believe that is enough math time!  How will they be ready for the tests?!  Oh— wait.  There are no tests.  There is no need to rush through.  The students get to actually understand the material before they are forced on to a new topic.  One teacher showed me a course book and said that it had too many topics for one five week grading period.  I looked at the entire book and had to stifle a chuckle because it essentially covered what would be found in ONE chapter from my textbook.  Why do we push our kids in the U.S. to learn so much so quickly?  No wonder they are stressed out!  No wonder they give up!

9.  Less Homework = More Participation 

According to the OECD, Finnish students have the least amount of homework in the world.  They average under half an hour of homework a night.  Finnish students typically do not have outside tutors or lessons either.  This is especially shocking when you realize Finnish students are outscoring the high performing Asian nations whose students receive hours of additional/outside instruction.  From what I can observe, students in Finland get the work done in class, and teachers feel that what the students are able to do in school is enough.  Again, there is not pressure to have them do more than what is necessary for them to learn a skill.  Often the assignments are open-ended and not really graded.  Yet, the students work on it in class diligently.  It is very interesting to see what happens to the students when they are given something to do.  The students who were not listening to the lesson at all put away their phones and start working on the task set before them.  Even if it is just a suggested assignment, they give it their full attention up to the end of class.  It is almost like there is an unspoken agreement: “I won’t give you homework if you work on this while you are in my classroom.”  This system has really made me think about the amount of homework I assign on a daily basis.

10.  Fewer Students = More Individual Attention

This is obvious.   If you have fewer students you will be able to give them the care and attention they need to learn. A Finnish teacher will have about 3 to 4 classes of 20 students a day- so they will see between 60 to 80 students a day.   I see 180 students every single day.  I have 30 to 35 students in a class, six classes in a row, 5 days a week.

11.  Less Structure =  More Trust

Trust is key to this whole system not structure. Instead of being suspicious of one another and creating tons of structure, rules, hoops and tests to see if the system is working, they simply trust the system.  Society trusts the schools to hire good Teachers.  The schools trust the teachers to be highly trained individuals and therefore give them freedom to create the type of classroom environment that is best for their individual students.  The Parent’s trust the teachers to make decisions that will help their children learn and thrive.  The Teachers trust the students to do the work and learn for the sake of learning.   The Students trust the teachers to give them the tools they need to be successful.  Society trusts the system and gives education the respect it deserves.    It works and it isn’t complicated.   Finland has it figured out.

Less IS More. 

398 thoughts on “11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”.

  1. I’m a student in a private school in Mexico, believe or not, the school is very hard to be in it, many of my classmates have left the school because of the abuse. It starts at 6:30 am and end at 3:30pm, we have approx. 4-6 long assignments as homework daily, we have one 30 minute recess, two sport classes, 20 mandatory subjects (45 minutes each) in witch we need to learn French, English, Mandarin and obviously Spanish. The school is known to be one of the best in the country in math and language but is the worse at student participation. That is just the start of it, it is a school witch has some campuses in the country where the one I am at is in a small town witch as many bad schools so this one turns out to be the “best” academically, There are good teachers and the school always worry about the qualifications of each teacher but the directive administration barely cares about its students except when there are bad behavior and they still can’t figure out why. I am still in it because each other school is extremely easy and useless, I am almost always without sleep and Mexican regulations aren’t really good so I’m stuck in this school that is contrary of the ideals of the best education system in the world. I needed to just let that out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah… Languages… I study in Finland (in KSYK) (BTW SUCH A COINCIDENCE THAT CLASSROOM ON THE PIC IS MY HOMEROOM :D) (I STUDY IN DAT SCHOOL!!!!) (yay) so anyway… We need to learn (from scratch) English and Swedish (but some don’t really start English from scratch… But most do…) then we have optional classes… This is how it went in my primary and secondary schools:
      4th grade: you can choose between French and Swedish… Or none (many schools have Spanish as an option too)
      7th grade: you start Swedish if you chose something else that Swedish, and if you chose Swedish, you continue it (same goes to other languages) also, you can choose German, French or Spanish (additional)
      We started English in 1st grade as “advanced” (since we speak English at home/learned it in kindergarten or somewhere else) but others started English from 3rd grade… Ye… 🙂


      • Hello Suzuu, I am the writer of the blog. I spent a considerable amount of time in KSYK last year. I got to teach a few classes of 7th grade mathematics. Perhaps you even saw me roaming the halls. Please send everyone at KSYK my love and devotion. You guys have a wonderful school. You should be very proud of it. I learned a lot from you guys! I also LOVED all of your differently themed classrooms. I think the Harry Potter room is my favorite. 🙂 I hope you are enjoying your summer break and that you have another great school year last year.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the very insightful read!
    You’ve hit the nail on the head on why Finland’s educational system works.
    Speaking as a homeschooling dad in Malaysia, I have the same ideas on how my wife and I should educate my kids, and how my kids should learn.
    Until the public education system AND the mentality in my country approximates Finland, I’ll stick with homeschooling.


    • I saw your comment and completely agree! I live in Canada, and although our students score, I believe, 10th globally, our system is very similar to the assembly line structure of the US. I am now looking into resources and information as I hope to homeschool my son when he would otherwise begin grade 1. This article shows how I wish it were here. This is new to me so it is lovely to read about other parents with similar ideas making it work. All the best:)


  3. This is very interesting view. I was an exchange student to U.S. in mid 80’s and back then the situation was vice versa – at least in the senior high school (grades 9-12). Back then there were fewer topics in American High School math than in ours (Finland). However I still recall that our algebra teacher had serious difficulties in dealing with 3rd degree equation, which wouldn’t produce simple, concrete answers. I remember feeling back then, that the type of assessment where you start by thinking what the 3rd degree equation generally looks like and determine its areas of positivity/negativity to get even a “fuzzy” grasp of the equations nature, was the kind of thinking that was not at all supported in U.S. educational system. It seemed like a concrete case of certain dualism (all or nothing) that U.S. has historically been known for a very long time…


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  6. I m working in a special school in Turkey.İt starts at 9 but finishes 5.it is realy tiry and boring.but people in here work until 5.becoz of that send the children to this type of special school.İ wish to work less too.but not possible in here:(


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    • Essay…? :0 People write about Finland? :0 (I’m interested cuz I live there and I actually study in the school that that picture is taken from! 🙂 )


      • Yea, I’m doing my Extended Project, it’s basically a huge 5000 word essay/report that you can write on basically any topic you want (one of my friends is writing her’s on female representation in anime). I’m doing mine on the differences between the UK Education system, which is increasingly focused on standardised testing causing schools to become Exam Factories, and the Finish Education System, which does the opposite and constantly outranks us (and everyone else).

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  12. I loved your post. I teach in an American high school, and I am fortunate enough to no longer have to worry about standardized testing since most of my students are done by the time they get to me. Finland’s secret seems to be the intense focus on allowing children’s brains to develop at a natural pace through time (no pressure to learn too young), sleep (starting school later), play (physical movement), and what a concept – actual learning vs. passing a test. The fact that women actually get to spend time with their babies and have access to subsidized childcare, education, and healthcare is amazing. It seems like the children are being nurtured instead of pushed like little robots to excel. There is plenty of research to support Finland’s methods, but unfortunately, too many countries are likely to miss some of the key components of the actual success, which I believe have far more to do with the well-being of the child than the schools or teachers. As a teacher, my greatest fear is the day my children start to dread school. My goal as a teacher in the U.S. is to ignore as much as I can of bad practice, and stick to my guns with what I know is good for my students. Less is so much more!


    • Sorry cant resist, only an american would say “stick to my guns”…now that Ive got that said, I really do think its the big picture as said already, happy family, happy child, good progress,….in the meantime, in NZ here at my school we are embarking on just classes a day, 90 mins each, certainly challenging for maths teachers who believe little and often is better generally, but Im agreeing that a lot of that mentality is just the old fashioned shove it down them and the hope they pass the test mentality…nice to find this discussion..


  13. Less is more doesn’t mean the same to different people. Why have algebra, geometry, calculus ? How about, because for those students with enquiring minds, it stimulates us. It is a challenge. More so than the student who likes solving plumbing problems, or electrical issues, or building a wall with a doorway. Less is more? I wonder how the Japanese would look at that? We’re getting buried alive because of the unions. They killed our auto industry, they killed our small manufacturing industry, and they’re killing our schools. Allow the teachers who don’t want to belong to the union, break away and not be burdoned by the stranglehold that is placed on them by the union. Allow our teachers who teach to step out and away from the threat of union persecution. Dismiss those who are looking for job security rather than career enrichment. Sure wouldn’t hurt anything.


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  15. What an interesting and illuminating article this was. The notion of “less is more”teaches us the value of quality time instead of quantity. Considering that an average student in USA schools spends around 6-7 hours per day(NOT TO MENTION THE BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS)) makes no sense at all. We are over-schooling and overworking our students to a point of exhaustion with not proven quality teaching results. For example, I studied in Mexico (ELEMENTARY THROUGH JUNIOR HIGH) and I never spent more than 5 hours at any given day and somehow our teachers managed to give us the tools to get to the next level (EITHER VOCATIONAL SCHOOL, TO PURSUED A DEGREE OR TO THE TASK FORCE), I always had time to play and interact among my friends or siblings and I know that a lot of folks today would say that those were the old days. I still think that kids should spend more time interacting with their natural environment, discovering and creating new ways of solving problems on their own instead of sitting like robots;specially at such an early age of 4-7 years-old, their prime stage to learn.


    • Interesting article. I’m am American teacher teaching at a Chinese school. People rave about the system – however much of it seems to be quantity over quantity. Students are in a class from 730 – 5 pm 5 days a week plus there’s TOEFL and SAT prep on evenings and saturdays. But at least in the Chinese classes there is mainly rote memorization and lecture – it’s only the American/expats who seem to have more creative classworks. It’s a struggle to get creative thinking and participation among Chinese students – although they are lauded for test scores in TOEFL/SAT. Looks like Finland may have the right approach (at least within their culture)


  16. I have always been a supporter of the Finnish education system. So many articles have been written about how great the system is. I wish it is also implemented In my country. Not that I’m skeptical but I would also like to read the negatives/ cons / outcome to the Finnish education approach even if the statistics proved little. Thank you.


    • I had an 18 year old Finnish Au pair live with my family and care for my kids for a year in the US. She expected plenty of rest, to a level incompatible with my expectations. If she had a cold (cough, sore throat, etc.) she expected to rest on the couch for a week. Her requirement for leisure and rest was not acceptable in light of my US standards for running a busy household.


      • Rest is highly undervalued in the US and contributes to our increased levels of obesity, diabetes, and possibly heart disease. It is much healthier to rest more than we do (sleep and leisure).


      • Ah… I live in Finland and I have only stayed home for 2 days when I had a cold if my temperature was over 37.4 C. That has only happened a couple times. From all my friends I only remember 2 that stayed home for 1 or 2 days if their cold was really, really bad. Most of the people I know don’t expect a lot of rest. Almost everyone has hobbies at least 3 times a week and many have extra classes like extra languages or other subjects not taught unless you pick that subject as an elective. For example:
        If you pick 2 elective courses, you’ll have at least 23 hours a week (normally you’d have 19) so it’s really only possible if that girl was a real slacker… Or just a lazy one…


    • Aww 🙂

      PS. COME TO FINLAND I CAN GIVE YOU A TOUR AROUND MY SCHOOL (I study in the school shown in the picture at the very top)
      (That class is K35, my homeroom :3)


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  20. Our system in based on submissive Finnish people / students, who are forced to unwillingly do the school work. That is all, there is no miracle, just plethora of youths forced to fight among themselves for the grades.


    • There are schools for those type of students in Finland. Also some schools have classes (for example my primary school:
      Class A – fully Finnish class
      Class B – 50% of the subjects in English 50% in Finnish. “Advanced” English study.
      Class C – fully Finnish, mild disabilities or things like ADHD
      Also, as I just said… There are whole schools for people with disabilities.


      • I am sorry, this is not about the special education classes but it is something that maybe you can clarify for me. I was wondering, if children start school at age 7 and they have lets say, 20 hours of classes in a week, who takes care of these children when they have no classes? I really like the system and wish we could use it but there is nothing I can do to change is, I am not a teacher and have no children in school. Thank you


      • That is a great question. There are great pre schools. Also mothers get three years maternity leave with one year full pay. Also children over the age of 9 or 10 get themselves to and from school on their own (using public transportation not school buses). Society trusts that they will be fine and also looks out for them.


      • For the first graders there are option of “after school day care” until 7 pm or so. In some places also second graders can attend. Those with special needs can attend for longer. Also there may be some clubs in schools after school days. But usually by age of nine kids go and spend time with their friends after school (in their own home, their friends’ home or outside, on yard, parks, forests, play grounds (on which in some there is paid personel to look nothing serious happens to kids), in llibraries, in spaces reserved for kids & youth with personel and things to do…)


    • Ah… For those there are classes and schools too… Forgot to mention that about class C in my primary school… (Btw I’m not in primary anymore…)


  21. Tighten it up for impact. This essay is provocative and it made me think and re-think. You brought up some very interesting points with quite a bit of good support. It also seems you don’t take your own advice: less is more. This essay could have had a lot more impact if it were more concise. It presents interesting information–yet it is written in a repetitive and occasionally contradictory (to itself) manner. In this particular essay, the kind of teachers you say you witnessed in Finland doesn’t quite match your description of the rigorous training they receive–and that those that receive it are in the top tier of students. Cut, cut, and cut. Say what needs to be said, but only once.


    • I wonder what you mean by this: ” the kind of teachers you say you witnessed in Finland doesn’t quite match your description of the rigorous training they receive–and that those that receive it are in the top tier of students.”

      Because what is described is accurate. What makes you think teacher training is rigorous (as in 1.
      characterized by rigor; rigidly severe or harsh, as people, rules, or discipline:
      rigorous laws.2.severely exact or accurate; precise:?) Just the fact that we all do Master’s degree? Or is it really impossible to imagine that those in the top tier of students can be laid back and not demanding others to do more and more?

      I really don’t get what you mean.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jannie, if you’re interested to see how maths work without homework or mandatory exams, in Helsinki there is Arabian peruskoulu where one maths teacher has this kind of teaching method. I was her student for three years and found the method really good for me.


    • Hi! I live in Finland… I don’t really get your question… Sorry… But maybe you could clear it a bit you know…? Sorry…


      Oh and also, I just read that reply below… I study in KSYK (that picture at the very top is from our school class K35. Most of our teachers follow the no homework policy… Accept for a couple… 😦



  22. Pingback: First blog post | Math Moments

  23. Pingback: Less Is More: America, Chill. – Ekin Ugurel

  24. Pingback: 11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More.” – Lifeschooling Conference

  25. Pingback: 11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”. | econinjablog

  26. Wondering if someone who goes to school in Finland could give me their own opinion of this education system? Whether you like it or not and your opinion on other countries school systems. Thank you!


    • If you read the comments, you find plenty from Finns.

      Let’s say that the experience of youth that go to US as an exchange student is that being a very average here, they get straight A’s in the US. Not because teaching would be better but because the contents and tests are so much easier.


  27. Thank you for writing this good. This is something Amazing. I have no idea Finland education is applicable or not in Indonesia. But, “Less is More” is the best lesson I’ve ever had. Less Method Finland = More Effect for Education in the world.
    Thank you very much


  28. I have read with great interest your article but then came to the conclusion that there are eventually many factors contributing to the success of the Finnish education system. For one that the system started some 40 years back? i simply loved the idea that kids are learning from people who are not only well qualified but also who are passionate about kids and teaching. One thing I know for sure(being a Mentor) is only passionate teachers can make a difference. Whether a child learn or not starts with how caring an attitude a teacher adopts vis a vis his students. I personally stand in awe before the Finnish system and find that true education is really about giving time for learning to take place. Too much pressure and an exam oriented schooling resulting in a rat race kills the joy of both teaching and learning.


  29. Pingback: Six Needs of Teachers as Professionals – windowsdown with mrs. crews

  30. Pingback: 11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”. | petridishculture

  31. Pingback: Social innovation in Finland | Europe Tomorrow

  32. Pingback: The Comparison of Finnish and German Education System | insidemir

  33. This is a clear look at the Finnish system. Thank you. I was a Rotary Exchange Student in Finland and attended lukio (academic school) just before they started the changes. My host families and friends live this kind and respectful way of being.

    I am a Canadian high school teacher in a district piloting many of the initiatives of a renewed curriculum in BC. It feels wonderful to be in a school with low numbers, where we know each kid and work with them for all 5 years. We have our stresses, but they’re different stresses. They’re about how we can improve every year, and the whole staff and community is part of it.


  34. This is an excellent research type article that highlights the more sophisticated education system in Finland (above all education systems world wide including America). The detailed observation and interest (of Finland education system) by the writer of the article shows her keen interest and expertise in the field. Although, the Finnish education system is unique, more goal oriented, and exemplary but if it is not even practiced in an advanced countries like USA, in the third world countries (where we have 50 to 70 students in a class, and the teachers are not recruited on merit but on the basis of nepotism, political influence, corruption and so on ……..), Finnish Like education system is just a dream which can only be possible to be practiced in developing countries through miracle…..


  35. Pingback: 11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”. – Reflections of an Aquarius

  36. This article/education approach had me at “the ability to teach isn’t something that can be gained from studying but requires a gift/passion”. In Canada, teaching is a lucrative occupation with great wages/pension plan and strong union. That attracts many to the field but not always the best. I’ve observed relatives/friends/children’s teachers in this noble profession that are hardly naturals or passionate about it. There’s much room for improvement.


  37. Has it slipped past me or is there no mention of school lunches? Finland was the first country in the world to provide free lunches for all school children in 1948. This is very important. Just key in Finland school lunch, and a website defines the goals and shows examples of Finnish school lunches with real potatoes and vegetables. Children with full tummies learn more.


  38. Pingback: Less IS more. – lovehappinessandpeace

  39. Pingback: 11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”. – ALO Finland

  40. Pingback: Beginning Reflections on “Becoming More Finnish” – THE BIGGER PICTURE: Educating Students for the Globalized Present

  41. Congratulations ! Very interesting article, and very well written. Thank you for sharing it with us. Less is more, imagine if the earth weren’t overpopulated as it is, everything would become simple , as it is in finland !


  42. Hi there! I’d like to use this information for a report on school in Finland that I am working on. I was wondering, where did you get this information from?


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