duminică, 22 mai 2011

The Finland Experiment – Lesson about school and society

The projects set up by the CE, which aim to continuously improve the skills and abilities of teachers, offer the great chance to promote the European dimension and the growth in the quality of education by encouraging cooperation between several educational institutions across Europe. Benefiting from a grant given by the CE and the Romanian government, I have participated in the “Action Methods Improving Motivation and Quality in the Learning Situations“course, run by European Bridges Consulting şi Kokkola University Consertium Chydenius in February 2011 at Kalajoki, Finland.
Thus, I had the opportunity to observe an educational system whose performance ranked first in Europe and was in the top 3 worldwide, according to PISA. We have practiced various working methods that help bridge the gap between the teacher and students and between already developed student communities and newcomers. We have also exercised different methods to show students a more appealing side of the school, which could help them find the joy to attend school in order to always discover something new.
The activities that we undertook regarded the development of group relationships, accepting personal responsibility and strategy. These activities have highlighted the skills of the participants, as well as the areas that still need to be improved in order to change the insufficient tactics of working with the students.
By discussing with our tutors, as well as with students and teachers of schools in Kalajoki, by personally visiting these schools and analyzing the way teachers and students interact during classes, by observing the way the Finnish system presents itself, I have understood the mechanism that has been leading the Finnish institutions to excellent results in the past decade.
The most important principles that support this system are affordability and equality. Schools are open to anyone who wants to study regardless of school level, without any kind of fee. The financial effort made by the Finnish government is remarkable: it covers not only the educational materials and the equipments needed (to be found in a perfect condition) and the smooth running of all institutions, but also the writing materials, the transportation of students, the hot lunch for everyone, the raw materials and the equipments for workshops. Therefore, any child or young person can study without problems, whether Finnish or immigrant.
The teaching quality is the same everywhere, whether the school is in the capital city centre or beyond the Polar Circle. There is no such thing as a hierarchy of schools; therefore students attend the one that is closer to their homes, rather than the one they hear people talk in better terms about. When analyzing the general objective of the Finnish school, Timo Jankinen, general director of the National Council of Education, said that: “We have this social contract: education must be made available to everyone and all the parties from our country have accepted this policy.”

Excellently trained teachers, parents actively involved in the school’s life, students taught to assume responsibility from young ages, friendly schools and healthy educational policies – put together they make up the formula that has assured the success of the Finnish schools. Each and every one of the factors involved does nothing else than obeying to its part of the social contract. The respect towards work, the duty for oneself and the society and the academic excellence are only natural under these circumstances.

Thanks, Ulla Salomaki!
Thanks, Suuvi, William, Diana and Laszlo!
Kalajoki, Finland, you and all participants at your course will have a special place in my heart!!!

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