Monday, January 6, 2014

The State of Gifted Education in Finland

Picture by Dr. Andree Swanson
Different educational opportunities are needed to develop the highly gifted to create national innovation and development. Kirsi Tirri and Elina Kuusisto (2013) studied the gifted educational opportunities in Finland and found that even with recent improvements the nation is still suffering from a complete understanding of this population. Improvements are being made to spur national innovation but there is a general lack of funding, understanding, and research on this population. 

Most international tests indicate that Finland appears to do well on science, math and reading tests. Education is free but this has created a reliance on public education with little variability within the market. Most of the education focuses on the average student and those who are considered special needs but fosters few educational opportunities for the gifted. 

To many administrators and decision-makers education is seen as a national investment. It is believed that as one increases talent and human capital in the market greater growth is likely to be realized. Public education has significant and strong support within the country and is seen as a general right of the population. 

Special education receives considerable support within the nation but gifted education is not well understood or supported within public education. Some have argued that gifted children, who can develop to the highest levels, should have equal consideration under legislation. It is unfair to place children with IQ’s of 12 year olds in the same class as 8 year olds and expect them not to feel like fish out of water. Neither the curriculum nor the social aspects of their education are meeting this population's needs. 

Even though there has been some movement on after school programs, the Finnish system does not yet meet the needs of the gifted population. Teachers are unaware of how to recognize giftedness or support it within the traditional classrooms. The need to develop national innovation is making some changes in the perspective of Finnish decision-makers. They are beginning to mention fostering talent and creativity within their national education programs. The authors argue that greater research on this population, as well as more knowledge among educators, is needed to realize new leadership and talent.

Tirri, K. & Kuusisto, E. (2013). How Finland serves gifted and talented pupils. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 36 (1).  

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