There’s No Homework in Finland [Infographic]


To some people, Finland isn’t a whole lot more than a chilly, northern country boasting a population of around 5 million people. Whether you’ve been to Finland or not, you probably haven’t had the chance to take an up-close and personal look at one of Finland’s greatest accomplishments to date – its high-achieving education system.

Students in Finland have, over the past several years, risen to the top of the academic food-chain, and they’ve become some of the top scholarly performers in the world. Compared to many other developed nations, including the US and Canada, Finland’s high school graduation rates have continued to grow steadily and impressively. Furthermore, a huge percentage of students continue on to earn college degrees, and students at all levels perform exceedingly well on standardized tests.

So what’s Finland’s secret? It’s hard to say for sure, but some good guesses as to the source of their success include respecting their teachers highly, assigning students less homework and more recess time, and keeping standardized testing to a minimum. The following infographic from takes an in-depth look at some of the details behind Finland’s educational system, and what makes it work so well.
There’s No Homework in Finland




  1. The ‘no homework’ thing is a bit of a myth. A Finnish 1st grader (7 years old) I know has homework every day. However the homework takes only 10-15 minutes (i.e. is one or two pages of her activity book). Also the infographic should include the fact Finnish school days are much shorter! First graders’ typical school day is 9.15-13.15 or 10.15-14.15 and those in Finnish High School (age 13 and up) don’t have much longer days (maybe 8-14 and some half-days in the week). Plus part of the day can be taken up with exercise like skiing or skating (all Finnish children learn to ski and ice skate at school). Another phenomenon is that many children (even young ones) cycle or walk to school rather than being driven (even in the winter!)

  2. The standardized test taken at age 16 is actually not taken by all students. It’s not a high-stakes test for either the students or the school, but a series of diagnostic tests that the national school board runs on samples of students in different subjects. I.e. a Finnish kid can do all of the compulsory schooling he or she is required to (grades 1-9), and never take a standardised test, and many do. On the upper secondary level (I guess the equivalent of US senior high), grades 10 – 12, there is a high-stakes standardized final examination that’s required for graduation and whose results count when applying to a university. This test is a big deal nationally, with everyone taking the various tests at the same time across the country, and e.g. the math and Finnish language questions being published in some newspapers afterward. The test is only taken in the academic schools (“lukio”), not in vocational ones, and it was originally modelled on the German Abitur that they have in their Gymnasiums.

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