Calculation and mathematics education of Finland(1)

By | 2014/05/06

Although I just introduced the overview of the education in Finland, I happened to find a book called “Calculation and mathematics education of Finland” written by Hiroyuki Kumakura published in September 2013. I found some interesting descriptions from the book about the real scenes in classrooms.


First of all, it’s a scene in the third grade in elementary school where the teacher was teaching plus and minus with 23 students.

The teacher taught how to calculate 309+217+68 by asking questions to students and listening answers from students.

It’s nothing surprising.

However, the following calculation of 651-235-171 was not taught with the same method. The teacher paired students to be teams of 2 people and white boards were distributed to all teams. The teacher asked all teams to discuss with their teammate to think about how to do the calculation.

This is a quite unique method for me since the teacher was not only teaching calculation but also team work and independent thinking.

Latter, the teacher explained the correct method by discussing with students.

When the lesson from the teacher finished, the teacher requested students to practice all rest questions on the text book. While students were resolving questions, the teacher came to the desk of every student to see if there are any problems or any support needed.

“Not just teach, but make students think”


Next one is a class of square and root in the third year in junior high school with 23 students.

The class began with reviewing the homework of last lesson.

Then the teacher started to ask a question without letting students open the textbooks.
The question is “How to draw a square with circumstance of 20cm? and how to draw a square with area of 16 cm2?”

Students tried to draw in their notebooks and the teacher went down to each student to see how students are doing? The teacher sometimes asked supportive questions such as “What is needed for a square?” or “How long should one side of a square be?”

After the trying time, the teacher collected opinions from students and listed the features of squares.

After this, the teacher distributed some questions on papers to let students practice how to recognize the relationship between the side length, area, circumstance of different squares.

The teacher also took care of the students who are behind the progress.

The behavior of the teacher to spend time supporting each single student is very impressive.

I’m not sure the situation in Japan, but when I was a student, there were usually 50 students in a classroom, which made it almost impossible for a teacher to take care of all students.


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