Finland is on its way to bring a revolutionary change in its school education system by linking different disciplines and doing away with all subjects
Do you ever use algebraic expressions or linear and two-variable equations in your day to day life? And not to forget the unending chain reactions in chemistry, adding to the memory baggage of students. Well, Finland’s of education system has a solution to offer The country is the first one to get rid of all subjects learning in the schools.
Finland’s education system is considered one of the best in the world. It is consistently placed in the top ranks of Programme for Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide assessment framework conducted by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The country is in the process of reforming its schooling system by introducing an interdisciplinary approach of learning at the senior level -- age of 16 years. There will no longer be any classes in Physics, Maths, Literature, History, or Geography. Students will study events and phenomena in an interdisciplinary format, instead of individual subjects. For example, the Second World War will be understood and analysed from the perspective of history, geography, and math. And, by taking the course “Working in a Cafe,” (project-based learning in groups) students will simultaneously subsume English language, Economics, and improve their communication and social skills. Finnish education system lays more emphasis on collective learning and tends to seek cooperation from other subjects fields as well.
However, the idea is centuries old in some countries, including France and Italy, where Renaissance flourished in the 16th Century. Not to forget the philosophy of great Italian artist and scientist Leonardo Da Vinci who included art and creativity in his scientific research and included science and rationality in his art that resulted in some of the greatest art and most astonishing discoveries in history.
If we talk about India, similar trends are conspicuous in Rabindra Nath Tagore’s naturalistic approach to education. He believed that memorising all subjects without knowing the ‘why’, is a torture for children because it kills learning. He wrote in one of his letters, “The schools in our country teach courses which are dull and dry, painful to learn, and useless when learnt. We insist upon forced mental feeding and our lessons become a form of torture. This is one of man’s most cruel and wasteful mistakes. We sit inert, like dead specimens of some museum, while lessons are pelted on us from on high, like hail stones on flowers.”
It will be slightly premature to pass judgments on the efficacy of this system. There is much nitty-gritty involved. It will be worthwhile to see how teachers’ capacity will be built to equip them with inter-disciplinary pedagogical methods. Curriculum development will also be a point of concern. Countries like France, UK and Canada, and much recently India, have inter-disciplinary courses at the university level. For example, in France several universities offer double diplomas in different, unrelated fields. The US and Canada, provide liberal arts degrees. IITs, BITS, back home provide dual degree in different disciplines. Educationist will be keen to examine the idea of starting interdisciplinary learning before the university level itself.
But no one can deny the fact that interdisciplinary approach is going to be an exciting prospect as it caters to larger requirements of 21 century professional atmosphere where people are expected to be multitasking and knowing everything from a lateral perspective. For example, journalists need writing and communication skills, along with wide knowledge in many different fields to have an aptitude to understand and produce the information. An industrial designer will need creativity, little knowledge of psychology and marketing background to understand what effect things have on people plus knowledge of material and of physics laws to build a nice-looking but viable object. And a city architect needs to know about statistics and data analysis, technical drawings, sociology and psychology, and a few more.
Time will only tell the results of such experimental approaches to education. For now it seems quite fascinating.
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