Finnish Education Design Brings Joy to Learning

Finnish Education Design Brings Joy to Learning

Finnish Education Design Brings Joy to Learning

Finnish Education Design Brings Joy to Learning

What US School Superintendents Can Learn from Finnish Education Design

In 2018, Dr. Russell Booker, former Superintendent of Spartanburg County School District 7, traveled to Finland to bring back a wealth of school design and education innovations to apply in the states. Dr. Booker toured schools in different settings, from the larger schools in Helsinki, to some of the most rural areas. He toured five to seven schools from early learning all the way through to post-secondary institutions, while speaking with several of the country’s education leaders.  

“The big takeaway that I brought back from Finland was that their learning environments are referred to as “joyful learning.” When you go into their schools, you see the setting is very relaxed. The way the schools are set up with furniture and equipment plays into that. I saw a variety of spaces created to foster collaboration between students and teachers.” 

Incorporating Finnish Education Design

We were happy to work with Dr. Booker to incorporate what he learned into design upgrades at Spartanburg High that were completed in the Fall of 2019. TEACH Magazine recently interviewed Dr. Booker about his discoveries in Finland and the process of implementing new school design elements back home. This interview helps school leaders adopt a fresh mindset when it comes to planning instructional spaces to maximize student outcomes.  

About Dr. Booker:

Dr. Russell Booker served as superintendent of Spartanburg County School District Seven for 10 years, where he directed many innovative initiatives. Most notably, he is credited with eliminating the District’s digital divide. He holds a B.Sc. from Wingate University and a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. He and his wife Sheryl are founders of One Acorn, which works to address diversity and equity in organizations and communities. Through this agency, Dr. Booker continues to work closely with McMillan Pazdan Smith.

Download the full interview in PDF, here.

Start a Conversation

If you’re interested in discussing the concept of “joyful learning” for your next school project, contact Principal and K-12 Practice Leader, Ben Thompson.

Pictured: Ben Thompson

Ben Thompson


Principal, K-12 Practice Leader

Contact Ben