Finnish officials have said that they will remove subjects from school curriculum, and instead focus on interdisciplinary and problem solving-based learning. This means that instead of studying physics, math, literature etc, students will study events in an interdisciplinary format. For example, the Second World War will be taught from a historical, geographical and literary standpoint.
The country wants to implement these changes by 2020. Officials say that the new system can fully hone students’ potential. These new methods are already being adopted in Helsinki, where around 70 per cent of the city’s high school teachers are being trained in this new approach.
Policy makers in the education space have always held Finland’s education system as a model to learn from, and it won’t be long before other developed countries follow suit.
So how far behind is India in the education race? We asked Urvi Mittal, an educator who has taught second to fifth grade children in India and in Dubai, whether a similar system could ever work in India.
According to Urvi, what Finland is doing is quite similar to the IB PYP (Primary Years Programme) framework. Everything in PYP is taught with a transdisciplinary approach, and the focus is conceptual, not content-based. However, international schools, where such curriculum is taught, are only available to the elite. Also, international standards are sold to parents as an easier curriculum so as to not burden their child, she told us.
Though the more common ICSE board has revamped its curriculum to be more skill-based than knowledge-based, the move is just a drop in the bucket, she said.
“The problem with Indian education is we are still stuck preparing for assembly-line type jobs (which was the style of education back during the Industrial Revolution). In today’s world, children will be working at jobs that do not even exist yet — so the need for a problem-based, skill developing curriculum is absolutely essential,” said Dubai-based teacher Urvi Mittal
Today, knowledge is available at the swipe of a finger — what’s important is building the skill to know how and when to use it, she said.
She said she sees kids memorising a lot of information, without knowing how to apply what they have learnt, even in the simplest of scenarios.
“For education in India to really take off, it is first the mindset prevalent in the entire country that needs to change,” said Mittal.