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Name: modgurl
Location: Singapore

New mom. New woman. Born in Singapore. Raised in the World Wide Web.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 @ 12:11 a.m.
Finnish Way of Education

Dear Blogger,

I attended a presentation at UniSIM today, by a Finnish professor from the Department of Teacher Education at University of Helsinki, Finland. He also specialises in early childhood education. At first, I didn't want to attend but when I received the second email about this presentation, I RSVP'd my attendance, for which, I was glad I did.

We've all heard or read about the success of Finnish education, which to its core, emphasises on a lot of play. What's interesting to most educators is that formal learning skills, i.e. reading and writing, are not taught to children until they're 6. Yet, Finnish students turn out to be very competent, more so than their American counterparts.

Play is a big thing in Finland, not because it's an early childhood fundamental. Play in children is very important in Finnish society. They seriously believe that children should play! I suspect it's more because parents think they don't have enough time with their children to engage in play activities. So they advocate that kindergartens should schedule much of their time with play.

I don't have anything against play. In fact, I want my children (the ones I gave birth and the ones I'm nurturing at work) to play more! I didn't play much as a child. I spent most of my time reading or playing puzzles, because my father emphasised much on academic pursuits. I didn't play with dolls, or masak-masak (cookery pretend play in Malay). No wonder I grew up awkward. Even now, I don't know what to do with Lego!

Back to Finland. I know most educators and parents would like to emulate the Finnish education system in Singapore. Not to be a downer, but let's be practical. What does Finland have that Singapore does not have? Land and natural resources!

Finland is the eighth largest country in Europe and it has 5.5 million people. Singapore is not even a dot in the world map and we have the same number of people as Finland in this tiny island! Worse of all, we have no natural resources to make any money with.

Why do you think Singaporeans are pragmatic people. Because of natural constraints that we have to live with. This is also why economic-strength is our number one preoccupation. In Finland, they have plenty of land and natural resources to sustain themselves, so being number one in anybody's list is not a priority for them. Being happy and sociable and well-adjusted is their goal in life. Oh how I envy them.

My point is, it's nice to have an education system like the Finns (Oh! It's also free by the way. But technically, the free education is paid by taxpayers), but we are naturally constrained to have the kind of early childhood schools that Finland has. Furthermore, our culture is very different. The culture drives the mindset. For us, play is not learning. We wouldn't pay for our children to play all day.

But, we can all be inspired. I resolve to engage in more play at school and at home. It's never too late to recover your lost childhood. So play to your heart's content!!!



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