An equal school system for all pupils, teacher education based on scientific research and an exceptionally high status enjoyed by the teaching profession make Finland the world leader in education.
Rapid social changes, such as globalisation, digitalisation and the transformation of the world of work, have posed new challenges to teaching, learning and schools. Understanding and resolving complex phenomena and global challenges require the ability to learn, process information and deliver solutions in a range of environments. Teaching and the school system must change in response to global changes.
High-quality education contributes to the creation of an equal and sustainable world. An educated populace is a society’s greatest asset. Top-level teaching and learning will continue to provide the basis for wellbeing, both in Finland and globally. The University of Helsinki is shaping the future of learning – for the world.
By educating experts in learning and teaching, we are promoting equality, sustainable development and social development on a global scale. Research shows that the Finnish school system is a global leader. The teacher education provided by the University of Helsinki merges research and teaching in a unique way. Our teaching methods focus on students seeing and experiencing things for themselves – an area in which digital technologies offer almost limitless opportunities. In the future, continuous learning and skills development will be more and more important.
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First we educated the best teachers in the world. Next we developed a school system that fosters creativity and active agency and is considered the best in the world. The Finnish education system is an international success story: studies have shown that our pupils perform exceptionally well at school. The success of our education system relies on research-based teacher education that meets the highest international standards. The University of Helsinki provides world-class research-based teacher education. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings place the University of Helsinki at number 90. While that is an excellent result, the University’s educational sciences rank even higher, at number 35 in 2018. What is more, we place in the very top bracket of non-English speaking universities.
The University of Helsinki was the first Finnish university to establish a separate faculty for the educational sciences. We are developing the Finnish education system through a unique combination of research and teaching. We are also conducting groundbreaking research on the quality and results of learning through for instance a combination of brain research and data science. Our strengths relate to diversity and multilingualism in learning. We will continue to develop sustainable teacher education based on research. The teachers we educate contribute new ideas to the teaching sector and continue Finland’s success in PISA tests.
Many of our large projects are carried out in authentic environments. Physiological measurements and ethnographic research are increasingly being used to obtain data about learning right where it occurs. All of our new projects are multidisciplinary.
Traditionally, school teaching has been about subjects, but the focus is gradually shifting to teachers providing not only subject knowledge, but also wider learning skills. In the future, teaching will become increasingly based on problems and phenomena. In practice, this means projects that cross subject boundaries and focus on complex phenomena, thereby developing students’ thinking and problem-solving skills. Such skills also enable lifelong learning.
We believe that future teaching will be collaborative, student centred and open to all. Phenomenon-based learning and the development of learning skills will be emphasised both at school and in the workplace. The latest teaching methods focus on students seeing and experiencing things for themselves – an area in which digital technologies offer almost limitless opportunities. New technologies will be integrated into teaching, and teaching facilities will be tailored to support learning. Our Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) will make teaching available across borders. The University of Helsinki is a pioneer and a fearless experimenter in learning.
Finland wants to retain its position as a world leader in teacher education. This is why teaching must be continuously developed.
What knowledge and skills do teachers need now and in the future? For the answer, we should look to today’s schools and their realities. Teacher education must respond to what is happening at schools right now. A project for the reform of teacher education, managed by the University of Helsinki and funded by the Ministry of Culture and Education, is seeking solutions and offering support and training to current and future teachers. The aims are to redesign the learning environments used in teacher education, strengthen the innovative skills of teachers and teacher educators, and promote the development of educational leadership.
The reform of teacher education is also one of the spearhead projects of the Finnish government. Teaching methods are changing. The teachers studying or graduating today will be teaching 30 years from now. We must consider the knowledge and skills needed then.
The best way to fight social inequality is to provide everyone with education opportunities. High-quality teaching and education will become increasingly important resources of financial, social, cultural and political power.
By continuously reforming teacher education, we can build a sustainable Finland and play an influential global role. The University of Helsinki educates experts willing and able to take responsibility for social development. We wish to strengthen education for human rights, democratic citizenship and sustainability.
The idea that Finns have made their way from poverty to prosperity speaks to people around the world. Many countries are still fighting poverty. The Finnish education system is highly valued throughout the world, and our education is in global demand. But rather than exporting our previous comprehensive school system, we can develop future learning through innovative educational thinking. After all, this is an area in which we excel.