School and the working life

“No man is an island.” We all belong to our local communities and to the global community as well. We at Learning Scoop try to regularly exercise our social responsibility and give our input for developing our own community as well as contributing to the global development.

As an example of this I recently took part in a high school event where experts from different fields of working life told high school students about their work and career. The idea was to describe to the students what kind of skills and qualifications are needed in today’s working life. I was happy to be one of these experts and to have a chance to interact with young, enthusiastic people.

Events like this represent well the general idea behind Finnish education: education is always connected to the life outside school. We don’t learn things for school, but the things learnt at school must have a wider relevance in life in general. This is where Finns strongly agree: the decision makers, educators, teachers, parents and students all think that the things we teach and learn at school must have meaning outside the school as well.

But what are we learning the things for? What is the purpose of learning? Do we learn things to be successful, efficient, productive work force for working life? Or is the purpose for learning to grow as a human being? Does learning and education have intrinsic value?

Frequently in the Finnish education discussion there is a debate whether school is concentrating too much on satisfying the needs of the working life and forgetting the intrinsic value of education. (In Finnish we also use the word “sivistys” to describe the intrinsic value of education; there is no direct interpretation for that term: “sivistys” refers not only to education and learning, but to sophistication, culture, civilization, enlightenment and erudition as well).

I have always felt difficult getting involved in this debate. The main reason for that is that I don’t see the needs of the working life contradicting the growth as a human being. When I worked as a researcher at the university, the topic of my research was qualifications needed by the working life. The needs of the working life were in many ways very similar with the higher ideals of human growth: we need people, who are capable for critical thinking, problem solving and co-operation with others. People, who have high ethical standards and empathy for others.

I see that school should develop the students’ skills and competencies for good life in general. We are not only workers, employers or entrepreneurs. We are also family members, friends, members of our communities, active citizens and individual human beings. We need not only the knowledge, but the skills, attitudes and values are needed to live a good and meaningful life. “Good life for whom?” one might ask. From my point of view good life is good for the individual, for the community and for the globe as well. The same kind of thinking is strongly represented in our new National Core Curriculum.

joulutahtiSo, what did I tell to the high school students? What do I think are the most relevant skills and attitudes needed in the future? The things I emphasized to the young people are e.g. curiosity, perseverance, empathy and problem solving skills. I think all these qualities are needed not only in working life but also persuing one’s own dreams e.g. good life.

Learning from each other is the key value for us at Learning Scoop. It’s been my pleasure to act as a mentor to a young university student majoring in education – and to learn from her. (This is once again one example of the co-operation between education and working life). Our meetings and discussions have dealt a lot with the topic of this blog post: what kind of expertise, skills and knowledge are needed in our own field – education – in the future. It’s been inspiring to realize that we also shape the needs of the future. I’ve been privileged to get new ideas and perspectives from this young student. Hopefully I have also been able to give some valuable experience and insight for her, too.

In our last mentoring meeting this lovely young student gave me this traditional Christmas flower (poinsettia, I think). With this picture I wish you all

Happy holiday season and bright future in 2017!

Yours sincerely,