Starting school at age seven (forget about kindergarten, never mind junior kindergarten), leaving kids to fend for themselves more, giving gifted children the opportunity to mentor their peers instead of hothousing them in yet more challenging education streams, and simple school-wide rules that include NO ipods, cellphones or hats in class have all come together in a successful recipe for smart, successful children and motivated adult workers in Finland according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.
This extract from the article strikes a particular chord with me:
Once school starts, the Finns are more self-reliant. While some U.S. parents fuss over accompanying their children to and from school, and arrange every play date and outing, young Finns do much more on their own. At the Ymmersta School in a nearby Helsinki suburb, some first-grade students trudge to school through a stand of evergreens in near darkness. At lunch, they pick out their own meals, which all schools give free, and carry the trays to lunch tables. There is no Internet filter in the school library. They can walk in their socks during class, but at home even the very young are expected to lace up their own skates or put on their own skis.