As of 2018, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network ranked Finland the number one happiest country in the entire world. This ranking may come as a shock to some, as several Americans may believe that the United States can be considered a fairly content country with a strongly advanced and developed nation status throughout the world. However, ranked eighteenth on the scale, America is clearly not as merry of a place as some may predict. So, why did Finland prove to be the most jubilant place on all of Earth? What are they excelling at that Americans seemed to be lost on? Simply, the party responsible is the Finnish educational system. With Finland’s particular ideals and principles, this astounding country seems to have the answers that everyone has been searching for.
To be more specific, one reason that Finland has such an amazing education system that increases the happiness of their people is that private schools do not exist. According to a senior innovation editor for The Atlantic, Chris Weller explains that all Finnish education is funded through the public dollar, and no school in any area is much better or different than the rest. According to the minister of education in Finland, Krista Kiuru, “Regardless of a person’s gender, background, or social welfare status, everyone should have an equal chance to make the most of their skills. It’s important because we are raising the potential of the entire human capital in Finland.” Since Finland believes that every single child should have the right to an education no matter their appearance or background, schooling from preschool through college is available at no additional cost. Compared to the United State’s average of $35,000 for four years of a private college education, Finland seems to be educating their students in a more beneficial manner without causing their citizens financial stress (College Data). As the cost of college in America seems to be unnecessarily expensive and practically exponential, Floyd Norris, New York Times financial correspondent reports that more than a quarter of Americans do not further their education past their high school requirements. On the other hand, for those who do attend college, about 44 million individuals deal with student loan debt (CNBC). Evidently, the lack of student motivation as well as financial predicaments is common in the US. As important as college may be to some individuals to be successful in life, preschool is another level that is extremely crucial to children for learning prerequisite skills and lessons. Many parents in America do not have the money to send their child to a safe and effective daycare center every day while they are off at work trying to provide the basic necessities for their families. By having these schools at no cost, the job of a Finnish parent becomes much easier, and those children are at an educational advantage prior to required schooling. Despite having the option to enroll a child into preschool at no cost, about ninety-seven percent of children in Finland participate in this privilege (Weller). Evidently, with prohibited public schooling and preschool through college tuition at no cost, overall morale and educational expectations in Finland encourage students to attend further education and to truly try their best.
In a like manner, Finland has such a phenomenal school system due to the fact that their students rarely receive any homework following the school day. The Finnish way of life includes coming home from school to spend time and catch up with family. This does not correspond to the average afternoon of an American student who is often practicing the lessons from the previous school day for about a total of 6.1 hours a week (The Telegraph). Had a Finnish individual been exposed to this type of information, he or she would most likely respond by asking why valuable personal time at home was wasted by dragging the classroom into the household. In addition to having as little homework as about ten to twenty minutes per night, it must be recognized that a typical Finnish school day drastically varies from that of an American day. Particularly, students are only learning from about eight or nine in the morning until one or two in the afternoon. These hours include lunch periods as well as the fifteen minutes gifted to students as a break after attentively learning for each forty five minute lesson throughout the school day (Gale Group Database). These breaks were introduced in order for teachers to maintain the attention and diligence of their students for the maximum time in the classroom and have contributed to student success and ultimate level of happiness.
Not only do Finnish students have the ability to attend schools without expenses, the intense pressure of competition, workload, stress, and standardized testing, but they also learn to honor and respect those who help teach them. Surprisingly, teaching in Finland is considered one of the most desired and competitive jobs throughout the country. Many Finns believe that training a teacher for school is nearly just as crucial as training a doctor before they perform surgery on a patient. Consequently, only the best applicants in the field actually receive a teaching job. As teachers are highly motivated to enter into this profession, they are eager to conjure exciting lesson plans and activities for the students who to look up to them as enormous role models. With this healthy relationship, teachers are able to get the best results from their students while actually enjoying coming to work every day as opposed to dreading it.
Clearly, Finland has created an environment for students that makes it much easier and more enjoyable to learn. This enjoyment of learning causes the overall mood and happiness of all citizens to remain at an all-time high. With this knowledge, why has America yet to adopt any of these ethics? The American school system is full of unnecessary homework and standardized tests, overworked teachers and students, lack of individuality and creativity in the classroom, excessive competition, and ultimate unhappiness. I think it is about time the United States takes a page from the Finnish handbook. Really, what are we waiting for?