Secondary Science - The Fishing Line

Part of the series Finland

  Screen capture from Secondary Science - The Fishing Line


Nigel Bispham, a deputy head from Cornwall, visits a Finnish school to investigate why the country's 16-year-olds have done so well in science in the international OECD PISA study.

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As part of his trip, Nigel watches a class of 13-year-olds at the Olari Lower Secondary School near Helsinki, overcome their anxieties as they are given the task of dissecting a fish.

The school's deputy head Maija Flinkman explains that the fish dissection is part of a seven-week study of the water eco-system and Nigel believes that it is this type of open-ended investigation that is the very essence of good science teaching.


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    • Lesson comment
      1 July 2009 - 20:24

      I enjoyed the video and could see that the students were really enjoying their lesson. My issue with it is that I know this wouldn't work with my class of 28 Yr9s. I can hear the girls being overly squeamish and the boys thinking up places to deposit the fish parts. This type of video makes me feel like a bad teacher as I know I wouldn't be able to carry it off. If my school was selective and there were half the students in the class and I had another teacher to help then I would be happy to give it a go. Sorry if I come across as negative but that is how I feel.

    • Physics
      22 December 2006 - 18:55

      We have seen an idealised situation. A select group of students in who are highly motivated doing a very interesting lesson, assisted by the deputy head. I have learned nothing about how the very successful Finish system is able to get such excellent results overall. Is it selection? Is it having two teachers in the classroom? Or are all Finish schools as attractive as this one?

    • Re : Finish Schools & Science Learning
      16 July 2008 - 17:38

      I have not visited schools in Finland, but I did ask Andreas Schleicher, who runs the PISA assessment program for OECD, how much schools in Finland vary. He said that when you travel from community to community in the country you see very little variation in the quality of the schools. If this is indeed true, than the school in the video is probably pretty typical of schools in Finland. I'm based in the U.S., and one of the challenges we face is that there are enormous differences across our schools. Schools in our wealthier communities look more like the Finish school, whereas schools in our poorer areas look entirely different. Dr. Schleicher also noted that contrary to popular opinion there is quite a bit of economic diversity in Finland and despite this, they are able to provide quality education to all. I love this video, it was compelling, and engaging, and in my mind a fabulous example of what exemplary teaching and learning looks like!