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I don't know if you've noticed this, but there is no such job as "math."

There are mathematicians, sure, or engineers, but even math-heavy jobs still need strong foundations in grammar, technology, and history if they want to be successful. So it's a little weird that American schools divide these subjects so heavily, like they are ingredients in a soup.

In Finland, they're trying a different approach. Rather than teach subjects as dry, separate ingredients, from now on, it's all cooking together.


Finland's concept is called "phenomenon-based learning." Here's how it works:

Rather than focus on one subject like math, students and teachers sit down and pick a real-world topic that interests them — climate change, for example — which is then dissected from different angles. What's the science behind it? How are nations planning on dealing with it? What literature is there about it?

This isn't a replacement for traditional subjects — those are still taught too. Instead, these topic-based studies are their own course and an opportunity to tie a bunch of skills together. The kids learn holistically and use real-world skills (like using technology) to tackle a subject the same way they would as an adult.

Why does this matter for us? Because while American schools struggle, Finland is literally at the top of the education game.

Inside a Finnish classroom in 2005. Photo from Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images.

Finland's schools are extraordinary. Their primary school system was ranked #1 in the world in 2016, according to the World Economic Forum.The United States, for comparison, ranked 39th. In short, we have some things to learn from the Finns.

Finland has been experimenting with phenomenon-based learning since the 1980s. Other schools around the world have too, but thanks to a curriculum change in August 2016, every school in Finland will start adding these special topic-based courses. Each school will be able to tailor the specifics of the idea to fit them best.

Getting kids ready for the real world is tough. There isn't a single magical solution. But this looks like a pretty neat idea.

The program’s not without trade-offs or critics. Some teachers are worried that less able students might struggle to keep up, for instance. But Finnish heads of education, like Anneli Rautiainen, are hoping the benefits will shine through, as the BBC reported.

Education is complicated, but if there's anyone we should be paying attention to, it's Finland.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Here, have a round of joy. It's on us.

Alexas_Fotos/Canva

Upworthy's weekly roundup of delights.

When headlines and social media seem to be dominated by the negative, we all need reminders that the world is full of wonderfulness. Joy connects and inspires us and can be found everywhere—if we keep our eyes open and look for it. One of our goals at Upworthy is to make that search a little easier by telling stories that highlight the best of humanity and sharing the delights, large and small, that unite us.

Each week, we collect 10 things that made us smile and offer them to you to enjoy and share with others. We hope this week's list tickles your heart and brings a smile (or 10) to your face as well.

1. Tico the parrot is a master vocalist. Not even an exaggeration.

@ticoandtheman

On a dark desert hwy, cool wind in my hair…

We've shared some delightful parrots in these roundups before, and each one somehow seems to out-entertain the last. I did not see Tico's vocal skills coming, though. The intonation! The vibrato! Even my music major daughter was blown away by this singing bird.

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Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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