An Experiment Worth Watching

Scandinavia is way ahead of the world in many ways. They’ve pretty much eliminated poverty, they all speak English, they’re not at war with anybody, Denmark is the happiest country in the world, Norway offers a free university education, even to foreigners, because they are just awesome like that, Iceland has hot springs and Bjork, and Finland, iirc, has more mobile phones per capita than anywhere else on Earth.
It sometimes seems to me that the world should look at Scandinavia, see whatever it is they’re doing, and do that, because it’s obviously working. Of course, it’s too cold, over priced and I wouldn’t actually want to live there, but still….
Now Finland is planning a new educational format, which seems to fly in the face of the old “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule, but nonetheless, it’s Scandinavia, so the world should pay attention.
The idea is to stop with the division of knowledge into discrete subjects, e.g. math, history, etc… and instead pick different topics and teach the old subjects across the lines. I can see how it might be fun. You have a class, say, on dragons. Math problems would be like “The evil dragon Bob kidnaps and eats a virgin maiden every night, and two on Sundays. The population of the village is 625, of whom 13% are virgin maidens. How long will it be until the dragon has to either vary his diet or move on?” You could study literature by reading books with dragons in them, art by painting dragons and so on.
I’m not 100% convinced. It sounds a bit like Montessori mollycoddling to me – which is great for the students, but they don’t learn as much.
But, even though I’m not 100% convinced, I will still be following this case and I hope it works out for them.


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