A few years ago, small Iceland ranked third in the world literacy rankings, only a couple of tenths behind Finns and Norwegians. And this is not surprising: secondary education in the country is mandatory for all children from 6 to 16 years old.
Paid kindergarten and no social distancing
The educational system is divided into four stages - from kindergarten, through secondary and high school up to higher education. The first stage is optional, most often it is ignored, because kindergartens are paid, and the price does not greatly please the wallet. At the same time, local families resemble domestic ones in the sense that they are large and friendly: the institute of grandparents blooms and smells.
By the time the young Icelander grows up to school, there is no freedom of choice left – but it is free. It is forbidden to study at home or visit other, non-state educational institutions. The only exception is if the child's parents are teachers.
How does it work?
The academic year lasts 9 months - from the end of August to the first decade of June. The longest holidays are Christmas. Lessons can last from 20 to 80 minutes and are held from Monday to Friday. Junior high school students study up to an hour, and older ones - up to three in the afternoon. Of course, entrance tests are not provided, because absolutely everyone learns.
Priority is systematically given to children with disabilities: Icelandic laws emphasize that classes with their participation should be formed on a general basis.
An interesting point: the number of educational institutions and students in them is in direct proportion to the regional factor. In the capital, there are over a hundred schools with several hundred students, and in a remote province, it is not uncommon for a school with a couple of teachers, a principal and a dozen schoolchildren. Half of Icelandic schools are designed for less than a hundred pupils.
They go to school on a skateboard and without a uniform
An interesting detail: schools are multinational, in another class there may be children speaking a dozen different languages. This sometimes provokes conflicts between students, in general, the level of aggression among schoolchildren in Iceland is higher than in society as a whole.
And if you do not take into account the frequency and power of conflicts, it is very calm and safe. Children usually go to school on foot, ride a velika or take a bus. The uniform is not practiced, and even the dress code is not accepted.
Control is minimal, but effective: all participants in the educational process have the opportunity to access the Mentor system, where there is all the information about academic performance, diligence, punctuality or even truancy, about school behavior.
Recently, schools have abandoned the digital grading system in favor of figurines and flowers. Descending from best to worst, there is a blue star, a green check mark, a purple diamond, a yellow circle, and a red cross. Despite the fact that it is easier for students with mental disabilities to understand and realize the degree of their success, teachers often use ordinary numbers.
Starting from the first grades, and even earlier, every kid has a mobile phone. On the one hand, it's good: socialization. On the other hand, the teacher has to compete for attention with a portable device, and not always learning wins in this confrontation.
Teachers' and school connections are established due to the fact that everyone here is each other's neighbors, and online systems for assessing academic performance are an excellent help to a parent who wants to participate in the life of a teenager more actively.
The country is small, but suffers from a lack of organization and poor quality of management in many respects – from technology and banking to the humanitarian industry. Therefore, they learn from others and actively borrow practices from some countries. Of particular interest in this case is manifested in Denmark and Finland, which are considered reference in terms of education in our days.
Lessons on rescuing drowning people and mandatory Danish
In Iceland, the school pays great attention to physical education and hygiene issues. Very common are swimming – if not in the pool, then in natural reservoirs – and rescue skills on the water, which is not surprising: for centuries, Icelanders were brave sailors and fishermen who went to sea in any weather.
In addition to swimming, primary and secondary school has 80 minutes of "outdoor lessons" each week. In any weather, children go to the forest, mountains or hills, build snow castles and listen to teachers in such non-trivial conditions.
Among the indisputable ones is the mandatory study of Danish. The languages are actually similar, and until 1944 the Danes ruled the area. But gradually, Danish is becoming a thing of the past, as it has outlived its usefulness, giving way to English. But Danish is mandatory for everyone up to the seventh grade.
There are several private schools in this country, but the fee is small, so we can say that there is total equality. At the same time, all schools are called upon to cultivate identity in children, but not contributing to the creation of hierarchical structures.
Somewhere they focus on nature in all its diversity, issues of recyclable materials and the environmental agenda. In others, they bet on the arts or entrepreneurial streak. However, fairs at schools are held everywhere, in December, and each lasts for several days. Students can sell their souvenirs or pastries to neighbors. The proceeds are usually sent to one of the non-profit organizations, the Red Cross or a hospital for children in the capital. So children learn to realize that there are goals greater than their own "I" and "want".