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What do you think about this plan: schools should stop teaching maths, language, science, geography and history.

Imagine no longer having to sit through, with dread, an agony of an hour of maths each morning, or having to tolerate a lesson with the science teacher that bores your socks off.

Imagine coming to school to looking forward to working with your friends on collective, collaborative projects that interest you and are directly related to your experiences and the world around you.

Well, Finland looks set to be the first country in the world to abandon the teaching of school subjects.

Finland’s educational system is world famous. Many other countries, including New Zealand, copy aspects of it because it is so forward-thinking and innovative. The Finnish like to do things differently – and they get great results. Finland is always in the world’s top ten for education results.

So what is their plan? Instead of individual subjects, teachers are going to encourage their students to look at events and do work around it. For example, students might look at the Second World War by using mathematical, historical or geographical ideas. Or students could set up and run their own café – and so learn about money, amounts, communication and marketing skills. No more single subject lessons, and no more working independently if you don’t want to. And, all the while, using digital technology to share, find things out, communicate more easily, and bring learning up-to-date.

Classrooms will look different. No desks, no rows, no small group learning, no classrooms. Instead schools will become spaces for students to move freely about in – to work independently or collaboratively, or even set up a café or small business in.

Why is this such a good idea? Well, students need to prepare for the real world. Students don’t need to remember facts and information – it’s too easy to find online – but they do need to know how to use information for real purposes.  And students get to work on important skills for the 21st century: communication, collaboration, using technology, problem solving, innovation and so on.

How can we make it work here in New Zealand? Ask your teachers! Design your own school projects; run your own market days and plan and prepare them in class.

Imagine the future: no subjects, no desks, no assessment, no teacher planning; instead, you decide what you want to learn, use more technology, have far more interest in – and learning for – the real world.


By Ben Egerton.

This is an opinion article, designed to promote critical discussion amongst your students:

Critical Thinking Challenges:

  1. Do you think having no subjects is a good idea?
  2. “Developing skills is more important than building knowledge.” Why might you agree or disagree with this statement?
  3. How would you like to be a school student in Finland?
  4. What needs to change in your school, do you think, for an idea like this to work?
  5. Why might schools in New Zealand – or parents, teachers, and students – be scared at the idea of dropping traditional school subjects?


Practical Task:

Think of an idea for an inquiry or project that you might want to find out about – it could be related to something you’re working on in class, or something that you are curious about. It might even be a business you want to set up. Carry out the project! Work on the key skills of collaboration, communication, using digital technology, self-management, being innovative, and building new knowledge.

After you’ve finished, think about what you have learned and the skills you’ve used. What maths, language, technology, etc. did you use?

Have Your Say:

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