One of the things people unfamiliar with unschooling are most shocked about is the fact that kids don’t have to do exams unless and until they want to gain acceptance into a University/College (and not all Universities, I think, demand exam results). I in turn was shocked to read that the famously successful Finnish education system also doesn’t require kids to take ANY exams until 18 – also to gain entry into higher education. Wow! If the Finns believe exams are unnecessary until then, surely you unbelievers, you scoffers, can now believe that unschoolers don’t need them either!
This is a really interesting article because it also shows some fears around the Finnish system – that as good as it is, perhaps it’s not future-proof. The interviewee, Pasi Sahlberg, Finland’s ‘Education Ambassador’ says, “We don’t have many ideas about how to renew our system. We need less formal, class-based teaching, more personalised learning, more focus on developing social and team skills. We are not talking about these things at all.” Mmmmm, that’s something that unschooling DOES do well – “less formal”, “personalised learning” – well many kinds of homeschooling does this well actually. Something like the Khan Academy or Coursera free online lessons/courses would be something the Finnish would do well to look at including in their system. These kinds of courses are the future for sure. It would be great to offer all these kinds of online offering in many, many different languages and in due course I’m sure this will happen. But for now, at the higher age levels, many people could at least have a crack at them in English. I’ve done Coursera courses with people from all around the world who certainly don’t have English as a first or even second language but they seem to get a lot from these courses anyway.
I’ve always been really interested in the Finnish system and I like the fact that despite it’s fame and success, Finland still allows homeschooling (unlike neighbouring Sweden where it’s seriously illegal, with terrible penalties for some families – shocking). Although since it’s system is so good, only a very few people homeschool – in the low hundreds according to wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling_international_status_and_statistics
As the article says, I WISH the UK and so many other countries did seriously think about the Finnish model. I think it would be worth trying instead of what’s being offered, despite cultural differences between countries. I can’t believe it can be worse than most other systems in the world – apart from homeschooling of course (well, homeschooling that isn’t ‘school at home’ at least!)