I've (finally) finished Phenomenal Learning from Finland by Kirsti Lonka, and have to say it's on my list as a must-read book for anyone wanting to model their education practice around the best in the world.
The last chapter features an interview with two people in the Helsinki School District. Here is a summary.
What are the most exciting innovations right now?
Letting the children learn through solving real problems as part of the school year through phenomenon-based learning. We recognize that schools is not an amusement park, but learning should be joyful and meaningful, and this is a very practical tool for making that happen.
Setting up some schools or classes as experimental schools, so we can try different approaches. While no one method is magical, this allows us to change the general pedagogical approach to utilize methods that work.
Using the maker culture, the co-creation process, and design processes, which makes learning visible for the learners and often motivates and thrills them.
Are there any challenges?
Ensuring that we don’t just change to a new vocabulary of teaching from an old one without changing process. All parties need to understand why we need to change, the key factors for change, and the differences with what we’ve been doing before.
We have become convinced that change doesn’t happen from isolated PD, we need to allow teachers to observe other teachers, develop expert teachers who can guide their peers, and develop longer term interventions.
What are the most valuable education changes going on now in Finland?
In the past, teaching was focused on what to learn, now it’s about how to learn. This is not just a cognitive process, but also the motivation and attitude toward learning and to social and emotional state and skills of the students.
Focusing on the skills and knowledge needed to advance society, instead of focusing on academic facts.
In reading the book, it occurred to me that whole child learning was very core to many of the best practices in the US as well. Two of these are coming up on Edchat Interactive this coming week:
- The Conrad Challenge on September 25 is about giving students the chance to become scientist-entrepreneurs.
- Integrating Tech into effective classroom teaching on Sept 27 is about the literacies of being able to leverage tech to teach well.
Hope to see you there.
And a little about me
My wife and I are just back from two weeks bicycling in Portugal (Lisbon, the Alentejo region, Porto, and the Upper Douro). Beautiful scenery, and here are my photos.