Teaching supporting talent and special areas of strength

Teaching and education should enable all children to recognise their own areas of strength, promote joy in their talents and their further development through inspiring challenges. The development programme for talent and special areas of strength of the Finnish National Board of Education promotes, for example, creativity, diverse talent and innovation.


The Finnish National Board of Education has launched a development project supporting talent and special areas of strength, which for its part serves to consolidate each child’s opportunity for learning and promotes, for example, creativity, special talents and innovation from early education on.

Leo Pahkin, the writer of the article, works at the Finnish National Board of Education.

The point of departure of general education in Finland has been set to ensure the basic rights pertaining to general education for pupils and students in accordance with their skills and special needs. The new thinking is evident in particular in that there is an effort to direct support also at some pupils who are quite capable of acquitting themselves in more demanding challenges than those presented by the basics of the curriculum.

Allocating support at the other end of the spectrum of learning results does not diminish support from elsewhere because research has demonstrated that support for developed pupils also contributes to improvement in the learning of other pupils.

On the basis of national and international learning result comparisons, it would appear that not all pupils acquit themselves according to expectations. Underachievement is prevalent in all groups but it is particularly common in boys. Teaching and education should make it possible for all children to recognise his or her own areas of strength, promote joy in their talent and its further development through inspiring challenges.

Talent has been traditionally linked with, for example, intelligence, creativity, problem-solving skills and critical thinking. Research has expanded the definition to also include, in addition to the spheres of the intellectual and the artistic, socio-emotional intelligence.

When using the concept ‘talented’ we are often guilty of dividing people into the talented and the talentless. Even though defining talent improves the situation, it does not entirely erase this categorising effect. Accordingly, it would perhaps be better to speak of a pupil’s strength in a particular area. This would simultaneously consolidate the view that everyone has some special area of strength.

In order to be able to also allocate support to this end of the spectrum, parents and teachers require information on, for example, recognising talent and strengths and on appropriate methods and materials suitable for capable children. Characteristics related to children’s personality and learning ability typically indicate how they learn and which teaching methods are the most suitable for them but additional information is also needed on, for example, creating a tolerant atmosphere and balanced growth.

The Finnish National Board of Education has launched a development project supporting talent and special areas of strength, which for its part serves to consolidate each child’s opportunity for learning and promotes, for example, creativity, special talents and innovation from early education on.

The key objectives of the development project include: 

  • to improve the opportunities of schools and day-care centres to recognise talent and special areas of strength, 
  •  to develop teaching and other school activities so that they consider talent and special areas of strength and to provide teachers with support materials,
  • to give the parents information on supporting talent and special areas of strength at home and to increase interaction between homes and schools,
  • to support pupils in recognition of their own strengths and to decrease underachievement, and
  • to increase tolerance towards the diversely talented.

The activities of the project are directed by a steering group and coordinated by a Ministry of Education working group, and have been divided into five main areas: charting of research information and existing practices, construction and activities of a national development network, continuing education of teachers, construction and maintenance of an online service, and international cooperation.




Ministry of Education and Culture
P.O. Box 29 FI - 00023 GOVERNMENT FINLAND Tel: +358 2953 30004
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