Integral Education: The Secret of Finland’s School System
In the Finnish city of Espoo there is a school that challenges the traditional notions of education.
In the way of a simple hypothesis it could be assumed that education is a process in which multiple variables and circumstances mix. As we know from personal experience, school is a place where knowledge is acquired but also experiences, where directed and general learning occur in a parallel way to an almost random and subjective education.
Paradoxically, although this is almost an obvious premise, schools practically everywhere work in the opposite way: only attending to generalization, creating partiality and doing everything to make the subject adapt to the institution and not the other way round.
Which is why the Finnish educational system is so interesting and, above all, successful. Unlike the majority of pedagogical methods, in that Finlandia internaScandinavian country a perspective that we could call ‘integral’ is sought, in the sense that it seeks to embrace a large number of the elements present at the time that the school experience takes place.
In particular, the Saunalahti school is a good example of this way of understanding and imparting education. To begin with, Sauna Lahti is a space that even architecturally promotes integration and cooperation: there is a central chimney (that, in some ways, is the heart of the building) and a great library and other communal spaces that little by little give way to the classrooms, separated by glass walls to allow for contact among different groups (as opposed to separation); the doors of the classrooms are also made of glass and they give onto the exterior, providing the students with free access to continue their education in the open air.
In addition, the school is also open to the residents of Espoo, who can use its library and other facilities. In this way, Saunalahti is also a center of the community and a place for exercising civil rights.
The Helsinki-based firm Verstas designed and built the school, bringing an idea into reality that, according to the architect Ilkka Salminen, would “turn the learning moments into thrilling experiences,” an ambition that, like education itself, is achieved by molding the circumstances to fit our purpose.
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