Merja Narvo-Akkola is fortunate to be an educator in a country recognized as one of the best at educating its citizens, but she isn’t taking anything for granted. “No one was more surprised by the PISA results and Finland’s relative high standing than the Finns themselves,” Narvo-Akkola has said. In Finland, most students begin compulsory schooling at age seven, and much emphasis is placed during the early years on play, oral language and social skills development. The system has short school days, finishing at 1 p.m., for teachers and students. And there is no system-wide standardized testing.
Narvo-Akkola believes that Finnish schools achieve excellence by focusing not on competition, but on cooperation and equality.
Her own mission is to promote those values as a leader, and to ensure that her city’s schools, like those in the rest of Finland, continue to live up to their stellar reputation. Today, Narvo-Akkola shares with us her views on what makes Finland’s schools special, and what educators everywhere can learn from her country’s approach to education