Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The View from Here - Finland: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The View from Here - Finland: News

Article excerpt

Nordic paradise hides a behavioural hell

Finland, according to many a politician, is a paradise for teachers, with some of the best Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) scores in the world and national respect for the teaching profession.

But it seems that life on the educational front line in this Nordic country is giving the lie to its reputation: according to recent research, Finnish primary schools are haemorrhaging teachers, who have been driven to the edge by some of the most unruly classrooms in the developed world.

Helja Misukka, director of educational policy at Finland's OAJ teaching union, surveyed a thousand teachers from around the country and found that 70 per cent of them felt "behaviour was getting worse all the time" and pupils were extremely aggressive. These results were backed up by a survey from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which found that Finland's classroom discipline was the third worst among its members, ahead of only Argentina and Greece.

According to Ms Misukka, younger teachers in particular felt classroom discipline was so difficult that "they can't really teach the national curriculum ... The teachers just feel that they can't cope and they feel really disappointed with their job". She also found that the larger the school was, and the bigger the city it was in, the worse pupil behaviour seemed to be.

"This is a problem because in Finland we have more and more big schools," explained Ms Misukka. …

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