Learning and Discipline in Finland – 2

At a very young age, children in Finland are brought up to be responsible. This is in contrast to parenting and schooling toward obedience. In addition, trust is a fundamental characteristic of Finnish society.

For example, in one of the high schools I visited, the student lounge had “pin-up” pictures, reminiscent of the 1950s, prominently displayed on the walls. The pictures were not pornographic, but they could be considered somewhat erotic to boys. When asked by my wife, the girls said that the pictures did not bother them. Nevertheless, the principal was informed about the pictures.  

The principal’s response was, “I will talk to them. I am sure that they will make a responsible decision.”

Notice the implicit characteristics of both responsibility and trust.

Since the room was the students’ area, if the principal would have made a decision about “their” room and had simply taken down the pictures on his own, the students would lose their trust with the principal—especially since he had told them that the room was their responsibility.

But since he trusted the students and the students trusted him, the students were empowered.

Promoting responsibility by empowerment is the prime characteristic of Discipline Without Stress and Parenting Without Stress. And this is the same approach that’s deeply rooted in the Finnish culture and, therefore, their schools. 

It appears to me that the Finnish emphasis on empowerment through trust and responsibility is why Finland’s education is one of the world’s best.

This “empowering approach” is in contrast to the usual approach that most adults employ: overpowering the young by aiming at obedience.

  1. I love the phrase “empowerment through trust and responsibility”. Thanks for the great thoughts.

    Rabbi Nancy Myers

  2. Having a close friend in Glücksburg, Germany, I have been versed on the Finnish educational system. I have engaged my students in a similar philosophy and achieve great success.
    I am so enlightened and appreciative of all that is being shared on the blog.