September 2016

4 Reasons Why Finland Has One Of The Best Educational Systems In The World

written by
Clara Malm
Former CMO and contributor

2.2 million saunas and some really really good schools

Finland has one of the highest ranked educational systems in the World, did you know? Yeah, neither did we.

In the country of weird competitions like the Wife Carrying World Championship or the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championship, heavy metal bands like Lordi and Nightwish, 250.000 reindeer, and 2.2 million Saunas - education is a big deal.

This small and trivial country in the far and cold North has managed to do something that other Western countries struggle to do; create motivated and effective students, together with motivated and effective teachers.

But how? Here are 4 things Finland does differently

1. More time to play

The team here at DXTR is especially excited about this one. Yay for play! Play is valuable and important for a growing mind, and the Finns are taking play seriously.


Firstly, Finnish kids start school at 7 years old, one year later than kids in for example the US. This gives the children one extra year of play and experimenting in kindergarten, before diving into the serious curriculum. Once in school, a Finnish pupil is entitled to 15 minutes of playtime, for every 45 minutes of lessons.

2. Fewer standardised tests

The Finns have realised something that many other countries have not. More tests do not make smarter students. In fact, many speculate that a grading system based on standardised tests actually impair healthy learning, because it provokes a bulimic attitude towards gaining knowledge. Read intensely two days before a test - meet up at school - puke out all the text you have memorised - hope for an A. No “A for effort” is given.

During their entire time at primary and secondary school, Finnish students only take one standardised test. The test is called the National Matriculation Examination and is taken at the end of high school. An important point is also that the tests are graded by teachers, not computers. Meaning that there is room for personal interpretation.

3. In Finland, teachers are cool

Did you know that in Finland it’s almost as hard to get into a degree program in Education, as into Law school and medical school? According to Centre on International Education Benchmarking, only 1 in 10 is accepted to the teacher programs, meaning that only the best of the best will be responsible for teaching the next generation.

The Finns take care of, and great pride in, their teachers. A Finnish teacher spends on average 4 hours a day in the classroom, leaving them with more time to research and plan their lessons. The work is autonomous as the teachers are free and flexible to play around with the curriculum as they see best for their specific class.

4. They’re all in it together

Regardless of income, all Finnish children are offered the possibility to attend nationally funded preschool programs. Studies show that preschool programs like this set kids up for later success in the classroom, preparing them better for school, and making them more likely to graduate from high school.

WIX/Sony Blog

A country to look to

With relatively small and uncostly means, Finland has managed to create an educational system that not only sees the individual student's needs and struggles, but that also celebrates play and exploration. It embraces all stakeholders in the systems, from the students to the teachers, creating an ecosystem that is healthy and sustainable for all. Many countries look to Finland for advice and inspiration, like in the neighbouring country Norway for instance, the debate is flying whether to reduce the number of standardised tests. Also in Sweden, the teacher education is getting a scrutinising second look.

There is no doubt about it, Finland is doing something right, and they are definitely an example to follow.

Clara Malm

Clara used to work as our CMO and marketing manager.

We continue to be super happy about the time we had and wish Clara all the best on her continued adventures.


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