28.03.2017, Elina Harju
To be independent and capable
Last week we had interesting discussions about the goals of education.
During tailor-made Study Tour our guests from Dubai were surprised to see how independently even our small pupils act in dining hall or were studying in a different room without teachers´ constant attention. They were surprised to hear that our pupils walk to school and 3rd graders go home alone several hours before parents come home. This is of course possible because Finland is the safest country on Earth, but also needed because most of the women are working full time. We have no housemaids and often grandparents live faraway. That is also why everyone have own duties and need to participate to the household work.
The school reflects the society. Practical skills are valued and needed in society, the same ethos is seen also at school. Home economics, wood and textile crafts have all very practical focus. Every boy and girl in Finnish school learn how to bake, have experience of cooking a healthy meal, do the dishes, will learn how to wash and prepare clothes. But it is not only those subjects that have practical elements. Also, other subjects like maths, languages and biology have strong connection to our everyday life. What does 25% sale mean? What is the most economical and/or ecological way to travel between Helsinki and Tampere? What to do if you are lost in a forest? Why and how to recycle? How to call an ambulance in Swedish? That kind of questions are parts of all subjects.
While having a workshop Promoting Learning – The Finnish Way in Malta the teachers were saying, that parents are doing the homework of students. We do not have that much homework. Most of the parents are interested in homework and happy to help and support, but the actual work needs to be done by the students themselves. That is well understood by parents. The homework are for students´ learning: if parents reread the unregular verbs of English or the basic rules of physics at the same time, that is only good.
The new core curriculum, as described earlier in this blog, values skills and competences. One of the seven transversal competencies is “Taking care of oneself, managing daily activities, safety” and another “Participation, involvement and building a sustainable future”. We believe that those competencies build independent and capable pupils.
“It looks like that you are teaching for life”, said one Chinese teacher once to us during a training program held in Finland. We were a bit surprised and asked them what else could be the goal. “The exams”, she said. Yes, we learn and teach for life and make also exams to serve the same goal.
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