Finland’s Phenomenon-Based Learning

Finland’s new, weird school ‘courses’ say a lot about how we teach our kids. There is no such job as ‘math’. There are mathematicians, sure, or engineers, but even math-heavy jobs still need strong foundations in grammar, technology, and history if they want to be successful. So it’s a little weird that many schools divide these subjects so heavily, like they are ingredients in a soup. In Finland, they’re trying a different approach. Rather than teach subjects as dry, separate ingredients, from now on, it’s all cooking together.


Many education systems are looking for the holy grail in improving their education system. Is this a step in the right direction? Is this approach too experimental as opposed to tried and tested approaches? Can this approach be followed successfully in our education system? Or does this phenomenon-based approach need to be tailored to our landscape?

Rebuilt face from parts grown on chest

A young woman in China, who lost the lower part of her face at a young age, will soon be getting a nose and mouth – transplanted from her chest. The tissue for her nose and lips were cultivated on her chest. Surgeons are also using 3D printing technology to fashion implants to help reconstruct her face.


From xenotranplantation, we are moving now to growing organs/human parts on the human body.

What are your views on this development? Are we overstepping ethical boundaries?

Are we going into areas of science where we are not prepared to answer the ethical questions yet?

Do you believe we are heading down a slippery slope that we will not be able to return from?

The one crucial skill our education system is missing


Our humanity is the one crucial skill. Rather than being seen as a weakness, this is actually our strongest suit. It’s one we need to empower, because studies show that as the world becomes increasingly automated, computerised and digitalised, we are losing the very skills that define us as human. “In a world with a surfeit of AI and machine learning, human values such as common sense and empathy will be scarce.”

43% of 18-24 year-olds say that texting is just as meaningful as an actual conversation with someone over the phone. Do you agree with this growing sentiment? What might be the downside of this trending upwards?

MIT undergraduates – soon to be the world’s elite technologists – attend a “Charm School”, a long-running, tongue-in-cheek programme which includes advice on everything from when to make eye contact and how to kindly break bad news. Is this the future for our kids, where most of what was once common sense is not common anymore? Empathy lost?

Education systems have long attempted to foster empathy through subjects like foreign languages, literature and the arts. With the decreasing emphasis on this subjects in Singapore, are we heading down a slippery slope?




Good governance – difficult to achieve but important to work towards


It should be clear that good governance is an ideal which is difficult to achieve in its totality. Very few countries and societies have come close to achieving good governance in its totality. However, to ensure sustainable human development, actions must be taken to work towards this ideal with the aim of making it a reality.

How would you grade your own country on these indicators?

What are the obstacles in your country to achieving these ideals? Does good governance need some form of soft authoritarianism? (see article from the


Student investigative journalism as a societal empowering factor


6 high school students have been credited with pursuing an investigation which has led to the exposure of their principal has having fraudulent education credentials.

A group of reporters and editors from the student newspaper, the Booster Redux at Pittsburg High School in southeastern Kansas, had begun researching their principal and quickly found some discrepancies in her education credentials. For one, when they researched Corllins University, the private university where Robertson said she got her master’s and doctorate degrees years ago, the website didn’t work. They found no evidence that it was an accredited university. They published an article questioning the legitimacy of the principal’s degrees and of her work as an education consultant. It led to the quick resignation of the principal.

The media as the Fourth Pillar can be an effective societal tool. The fact that it was wielded by students is amazing. When we look at issues from around the world that may be applicable to our society, we have to wonder if investigative journalism has any relevance to our society.

We also have to wonder if our students can be as independent and dynamic as these students. What beneficial outcomes could such student activism and empowerment lead to for our society?



Generation Y and their increasing Anxieties


As we face the problems of increasing anxiety in society we must also confront the social conditions behind it. Economic, income, and housing insecurity, alongside the plague of social isolation, is causing a generational mental health crisis, primarily situated in anxiety disorders. Finding long-term solutions therefore can only occur when we are willing to tackle these social causes.

This report by Guardian is about the youth of UK. But do similar conditions appear in Singapore?

What similarities do Singaporeans face in their way of life?

What are the clear differences between both societies and both experiences?

How do we tackle these social causes? Who should confront these causes?

Revolutionising the Education System


Finland’s education system is considered one of the best in the world. In international ratings, it’s always near the top. However, the authorities there aren’t ready to rest on their laurels, and they’ve decided to carry through a real revolution in their school system. Instead of individual subjects, students will study events and phenomena in an interdisciplinary format.

So far Singapore’s attempt at reviewing primary school education seems to be much too little, too conservative, too small a step.

Should Singapore consider a ‘Finland-like’ change?

What the motivations for such a change?

What are the barriers preventing such a change from happening?

What other elements of the Finnish system are worthy of incorporation into Singapore’s system?