The Eagles Have Landed

We made it!  Snowmagedon cleared out and we were able take off for Finland.  We had a quick layover in Iceland (no Bijork sighting..yet), and then landed in Helsinki. And yes, Jenna really did wear the eye mask. 

We caught up with the rest of the Edu Tour group and got a quick walking tour of Helsinki in which the Russian and French influences on the architecture were a highlight.   The parks are adorned with bronze statues of Finland’s most influential and famous people.   The statues offer insights to Finnish history and the struggles that have been overome.

During the tour, we got to experience the Kamppi Chapel also known as “Chapel of Silence”.  It is a wooden structure in one of the busiest shopping areas in Helsinki which is intended to be a place to relax and enjoy a moment of silence.

Tomorrow is a busy day and our first look into classrooms. What is one thing you want us to look for in classrooms tomorrow?



Master teacher

I want to hear about what engagement strategies you see teachers using. At what level are students engaged and is that level of engagement because of the teacher's design or because of the cultural expectations around which the students are normed?

We will watch for that, Sarah

We will watch for that, Sarah! I'm interested in the types of tasks kids are being asked to do and how that relates to engagement, too. Thanks for the comment! :)

Hi, Sarah! Now that I've had

Hi, Sarah! Now that I've had a chance to see some classes and process, I wanted to get back to your question. The students I saw were engaged in their learning because of a couple of reasons. One, they have been told from an early age that learning is their "job." Because of structures in the society (free daycare, free healthcare, meals at school for all, etc.), students weren't burdened with the responsibilities students in the states often are. They really could focus on their education. Two, the motivation to learn is all about choices and pathways. Kids aren't forced to sit through years of certain subject areas after they turn 15 because at that point, they can either choose vocational school or choose to attend upper school (high school) and make choices about the classes they take. The relevancy of their education in grades 1-9 is more apparent as it opens the doors for their next steps. They don't wait until their 18 to start making their own decisions. Relationships with teachers is also a big motivator. Kids stay with the same teacher for at least 3 years in grades 1-6 and in grades 7-9, they are preparing to make their choice about what they'll do after grade 9. I don't think I'd say engagement was necessarily because of teacher design. I didn't see students being "entertained" by their teacher or asked to do anything that was totally out of this world, but I did see high levels of support for students who were struggling and a system where no one slipped through the cracks.

Language Arts

I am interested in the demographics and socioeconomic make-up of the school/classroom. I am also interested in the parenting methods of the Finnish. Are there developmental psychologists, researchers, or parenting practices the Finnish subscribe to that seem to be different than the typical "American" style of parenting?

Finnish parents and demograpHics

Hi, Hope! So far, we've seen a school that was largely homogeneous. Tomorrow, we will be visiting a school that is much more diverse as it is made up of refugees and immigrants from from all over the world. The school I was in yesterday was, however, bilingual as many of the students spoke Swedish in their "mother tongue." By law, Finns offer education in Swedish starting in first grade (there is no kinder) if more than 5% of the community is native Swedish speaking. It would be unethical not to. As for parenting, Finnish parents trust their children and do way less hand-holding than American parents. Kids as young as 6 walk or ride to school by themselves (no parents drop them off) and since school gets out at 1:00pm, kids as young as 7 go home by themselves and stay home alone until their parents get home at 4 or 5pm. Finnish children are also told early on that learning is their "job" and they will burden society of they don't do their job. Parents trust their children and teachers alike to do their "jobs."

Language Arts

Jenna- Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to my question!