Hacker School vs Finnish education system


I'm a big fan of the Finnish education system. I like to read about it and discuss it with people passionate about education. I just spent 12 incredible weeks as a student in the fall batch of Hacker School. Hacker School is a unique place, I'm excited about it now even more than before applying. It was that good. Now let's try to find some similarities between education in Finland and Hacker School.

Minimal structure

They have very minimal structure of education both in Finland (the national curriculum is only broad guidelines) and in Hacker School. It helps students focus on things they want to study themselves, things they are passionate about. Motivated students are the biggest achievement of any educational system.

No grades

During the first years of school in Finland, grading may be limited to verbal assessments rather than formal grades. Why do we need grades? It's refreshing, when you can spend time learning what you like, instead of thinking about how to get the highest grade.

No fees

There are no tuition fees in both Finland and Hacker School.

No competition

Finland's experience shows that it is possible to achieve excellence by focusing not on competition, but on cooperation. The same principle applies to the Hacker School. Students constantly try to help each other.

Collaborative environment

In Finland they have open and collaborative environment in classes:
In a typical classroom, students are likely to be walking around, rotating through workshops or gathering information, asking questions of their teacher, and working with other students in small groups. They may be completing independent or group projects.
Same happens at Hacker School. Students self-organize themselves into smaller groups by interests: SICP group, Machine Learning group, JavaScript learning group, Hardware group, Nand2Tetris group etc. Anyone can join as many groups as she/he wants (or work by herself/himself). In each group students work together and try to help each other. Also, students learn a lot during pair programming sessions.


Teaching is a very respectful profession in Finland. Only person with the Master of Education degree can teach others. It's hard to become teacher. Competition is high - 10 people per spot. Salaries are really good. This drives the best people to teach others. Best people can prepare even better next generations of students. A very similar approach is used in Hacker School. Facilitators are previous hacker schoolers. And they are really good. They set high standards for students.

Social responsibility and help

Finland is the socially responsible country. They try to support people that need support. Hacker School tries to bring more women to industry. They work hard and spend lot of time to get grants from big companies for female students who need financial support.


Personally I found lot of similarities between modern approach to education in Finland and Hacker School. Both Finland schools and Hacker School try to achieve an environment of creativity, exploration and learning. For many years Finnish education was ranked as the best in the world. I like that they are trying to improve it. The same approach is used at Hacker School. Each batch at Hacker School is different from past ones. They always try to do something differently.


I've never been to Finland so my understanding of its education system is based on online articles, blogs and talks with friends.

New York
Time to read:
3 mins