Today was the last day of school here in Finland. Again thousands of young people graduated from their schools. Most notable of these graduations is the high school (lukio) graduation.
Graduating high school means a big party.
I was invited to one of these parties held by my wife’s relative. More interesting than the party itself was the atmosphere of success. The 19-year old girl who graduated was a straight-A student. She was obviously up for a scholarship for her success. Here’s basically what happened:
- She worked her ass off for 13 years in school to get to this point.
- She still doesn’t know why she’s doing it.
- But luckily the school does, they awarded her with a scholarship worth 85 € for a job well done.
Apart from Harry Potter, who has ever been sorry that the school term ends?
In Finland we have the compulsory education (oppivelvollisuus) sometimes called “koulupakko” as in “forced school”. Learning new things, basically the most fascinating thing out there, is turned it to a compulsory duty.
On top of that the school system has crappy incentives. It’s not like 85 € was in any balance with the amount of work and dedication a person puts into their studying in order to get there. The only real incentive for doing well in school is that you on average get a better job.
I will argue that such a distant incentive is not motivating for almost anyone. In order for people to do well in school they must adopt a personal incentive on the meta-level. You have to learn to like what you’ve been told – not to learn more about whatever you like.