A noisy classroom could not necessarily be all bad. Finnish results show that noisy classrooms could enhance children learning


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Saturday, 20 August 2011
A busy, noisy classroom does not necessarily hurt a pupil's learning. A new international survey found that while Finnish schoolchildren consider their classrooms as being noisy, learning results continue to be among the best in the world. Finnish experts say that clamour in the classroom can be either a positive or negative thing.

According to the OECD study, nearly half of all schoolchildren in Finland feel that teachers are unable to quiet down a class quickly. In a 65-nation comparison of classroom discipline, Finland ranked third from last, ahead of only Greece and Argentina. The list was topped by Japan, Kazakhstan, Romania and Korea.


While the study links disciple in the classroom with learning results, Finland stands out as an exception. Finnish schoolchildren rank among the world's elite in academic performance despite the clamour in the classroom. A bit of noise is not always a bad thing, points out Professor Kirsi Tirri of Helsinki University's Department of Teacher Education.

"One can talk about positive and negative clamour. The classroom atmosphere in Finland is very democratic. We have always taught teachers that students and pupils should be encouraged to be active. Of course, which leads to more noise," says Professor Tirri.

The Str�mberg elementary school in Helsinki is typical in this respect. The pupils learn by doing, from each other, in groups, by talking. Children are usually allowed to move freely around the room, not required to sit at their desks all the time.

"Not every pupil is doing the same thing at the same time. It is not a matter of teachers letting them do whatever they want, but rather of approaching goals along many different paths," explains Headmaster P�ivi Ristolainen.

Professor Kirsi Tirri does stress, however, that bothering others and bullying cannot be tolerated. A well-trained teacher has the means to intervene if needed. And, creativity is a boon for any teacher. One middle school teacher found that shaking hands with all the pupils at the start of class had a calming effect.

"The atmosphere in the classrooms in Finland is quite unique. We attempt to construct an approach of positive interaction, not one of strict discipline," explains Professor Tirri.
News source Yle, Finland

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