A Snapshot of Fostering Creativity in Finland

Encouraging students to develop creativity and critical thinking in an all-round way forms the simple strength of Finnish education.
Finland is known for its innovative education system that emphasises creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Some strategies used are:
  • Phenomenon-based learning integrates different subjects and topics around a common theme or phenomenon, encouraging students to explore connections, encouraging creative thinking and fostering problem-solving.
  • Learning by doing engages hands-on experiences that encourage creativity and exploration. Such as field trips, project-based learning, and experiments.
  • Collaborative learning encourages working together in groups to solve problems and complete projects. This approach promotes creativity, communication, and teamwork.
  • Flexible learning spaces accommodate different learning activities. Moving around and working in different environments helps stimulate creativity and improve focus.
  • Forest schools involve taking students outside for learning activities which promotes creativity, exploration, and a connection to nature.
  • Arts integration, including music, dance, drama, and visual arts, encourages creativity and self-expression.
  • Digital tools such as online learning platforms, collaborative apps, and virtual reality tools can enhance learning and promote creativity.
Overall, the learning environment encourages exploration, collaboration, and hands-on learning to prepare students for success in a rapidly changing world.
Example of Promoting Creativity on Finnish Campus
One specific success example of promoting creative thinking in a Finnish school is the “Finnish Math” program at the Kallahti Comprehensive School in Helsinki. This program was developed to help students learn math in a more engaging and creative way.
The program involves a variety of activities and projects that encourage students to think creatively and apply their math skills in real-world contexts. For example, students might use math to design and build a model house, or to plan a trip to a foreign country. The program also involves collaborative learning and problem-solving activities, which help students develop their teamwork and communication skills.
The Finnish Math program has been highly successful at the Kallahti Comprehensive School, with students reporting higher levels of engagement and motivation in math class. The program has also been credited with improving students’ math skills and their ability to apply those skills in real-world contexts.
By creating a learning environment that encourages exploration, collaboration, and hands-on learning, Finnish schools are helping to prepare students for success in a rapidly changing world.Although the Finnish education system remains highly regarded for its emphasis on creativity, innovation, and critical thinking, there are still some challenges that exist in fostering student creativity.
Challenges in the Finnish Education System
While the Finnish education system is often praised for its emphasis on creativity and innovation, there are still some challenges that exist when it comes to fostering student creativity. Here are a few examples:
  • Standardized testing: Although Finland has a relatively low-stakes approach to testing, there is still a focus on standardized tests in the education system. This can sometimes limit teachers’ ability to take risks and encourage creative thinking in the classroom, as they may feel pressure to prepare students for tests rather than promoting exploration and experimentation.
  • Teacher training: While Finnish teachers are highly trained and respected, there is still a need for ongoing professional development and training when it comes to promoting creativity in the classroom. Some teachers may not feel confident in their ability to teach creatively or may not have access to the resources they need to do so effectively.
  • Traditional teaching methods: While Finnish schools have moved away from traditional teaching methods in many ways, there is still a tendency to rely on lecture-based instruction and rote memorization in some cases. This can limit students’ ability to think creatively and explore new ideas.
Professional Learning on Creativity Development
One example of how Finland carries out professional learning for teachers on student creativity development is through the Finnish National Agency for Education’s (EDUFI) Creative Classrooms program.
The Creative Classrooms program aims to help Finnish teachers promote creativity in the classroom by providing resources and training opportunities, including online courses, webinars, and workshops. It emphasizes collaboration and networking, encourages shared experiences, experimentation with new methods and techniques, and reflection on their own practice. These are backed with conferences, seminars, and training.
Creativity in Education Events in Finland
There are several events in Finland that celebrate creativity in student development and discuss how to foster creativity in schools, bringing together educators and policymakers to share ideas, best practices, and innovations related to fostering creativity in schools.
  • Educa is the largest education event in Finland, including workshops, seminars, and presentations focused on education, innovation and creativity.
  • Helsinki Design Week celebrates design and creativity in Finland using workshops, talks, and exhibitions focused on design thinking and innovation.
  • Education Week includes activities and events focused on education innovation and creativity using workshops, seminars, and other activities.
  • International Symposium on Creative Education: Organised by the Council for Creative Education (CCE Finland), the symposium brings together educators, researchers, and policymakers from around the world to discuss the latest trends and best practices in creativity and education.
Books on Fostering Creativity in Finland
Here goes the several books on fostering creativity in schools in Finland specifically.
  • The Finnish Education Mystery. A collection of essays that examine the history and sociology of education in Finland, including its emphasis on creativity and innovation.
  • The Finnish Way. Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness through the Power of Sisu by Katja Pantzar explores the Finnish concept of ‘sisu’ (resilience, determination, and perseverance) and how it can apply to various aspects of life, including education and creativity.
  • Learning and Teaching in Finnish Classrooms: A Cross-Cultural Perspective by Erno Lehtinen and Hannele Niemi. This book explores the Finnish education system and its emphasis on student-centred learning, creativity, and innovation.
  • Creative Learning and Pedagogical Innovation in Contemporary Finnish Classrooms edited by Kristiina Kumpulainen, Raija Pirttimaa, and Erika Löfström. This book offers a collection of essays exploring innovative teaching methods and practices for creativity and critical thinking.