With small steps and together

This year I have been privileged to meet educational people all around the world. The story and practises of Finnish education are often rather far from the reality of the other countries. For example, the importance of play, respect of individual child, co-operation instead of competition, real life connection of learning content, respect and autonomy of teachers and evaluation supporting learning make sense to most of the educators, but they feel that there are no possibilities to teach or run the school according to their best knowledge. Continuous testing, over full and regulated curricula and the problems with teacher training are everyday life for most of the educators of the world.

I do not travel around the word to depress people. As we always say, that educations systems are made by people and Finnish people have “stolen” ideas and practices. Our educational professionals have made them to be their own to fit their ideas and our culture. It´s the people who have built the Finnish education system.

What can then one individual teacher or principal do? People that we meet are mainly individual teachers and principals that are passionate about education and want to improve their own work as well as the education of their country. People that we meet are 99% interested, motivated to learn and open to ideas. (That is one reason why this work is so interesting and the best!)

What can one person do? To start using more activating teaching methods in his/her classroom or in teacher meetings. We encourage everuone to set goal to increase interaction and collaboration in your lessons. Students (also teachers) need to be taught to it little by little, step by step.  Most of the students want to please teacher. If you want to promote active studying or active participation, you need to show it, make clear rules to it and how it is taken into account as part of evaluation. The fact is that what you measure or evaluate is what you get. Evaluation means giving value.

In the classroom one can start with simple pair work. It can be challenging to students who are not used to share ideas or even to talk. (See our Tips for teachers – page) After a while try Inner-outer circles and little by little give more challenging tasks and require different competencies from students. The co-operational learning methods, inquiry based learning etc. are to follow. Find and develop your own ways and practices that fit your class, subject and learning environment.

Try out something new and share it with others. Find teachers/ principals that are interested in same kind of ideas. Share, plan and try together by supporting each other. Build with determined manner learning community of your fellow teachers, principals, parents. Development work is not easy nor fast, but it can also be rewarding and its much more fun together.

´Thank you for the workshop. I found my key teaching and learning ideas and values again. Last years I have been working, teaching against my inner knowledge and believes, but now I will return to them. I feel so relieved, even I do not quite yet know how shall I do it, but I will´, said one teacher to me after one workshop in Bolivia.  I will remember that forever. I wish to him and to all other enthusiastic people around the globe strength and joy with your work.  Work together!

-Elina Harju

p.s. A wonderful aftermovie was filmed during the tour in Bolivia, enjoy!