Here’s how the most modern school in Finland looks like

The Teacher Training School located in Turku has over 1000 pupils as well as teachers and staff around 140. Further, around 170 subject teacher students intern there yearly. What’s more, this school in particular is rather international since one can hear around 40 languages there.

Both Finnish and English are official teaching languages as pupils may eventually graduate with an International Baccalaureate degree. Due to its diversity with people and school levels, the school offers great experience for a subject teacher student. But without further ado, let’s take a look on the school.

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Sitting in pairs or groups is often preferred when teachers modify layouts for classes. Additionally, group-working is emphasized in order to enhance social and interaction skills. Tables with wheels mean that it’s easy to organize the class to one’s liking.
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Out with the old, in with the new: touchscreen-enabled smartboards are becoming de facto displays in each class. Teachers often use e.g. video material during lessons. Yet, notice the three kinds of boards from different ages — there are still options to choose from.
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Each floor has common areas where one may study, hang around etc. Also openness is appreciated as instead of wide walls some classes have visible glass walls.
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Common areas also include various tables where pupils may work on assignments. Instead of studying the whole time inside the class, with permission of teachers pupils may do assignments outside the class. Consequently, flexibility and a change of scenery is valued.

Comments and thoughts welcome 🙂

 

Pedagogical Studies — Path to Teacherhood

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Faculty of Education’s main building is called ‘Educarium’. This is where most of the theory concerning teaching will be taught in the University of Turku.

Pedagogical Studies in Finland last one academic year (60 credits) and grant one the right to teach from secondary school to University of Applied Sciences.
But what exactly do these studies include?

For instance in the University of Turku pedagogical studies include sosiology, psychology, pedagogy, knowledge from the teaching subject (e.g. social studies), educational legislation and four teaching internship periods. Teaching methods consist of expert lectures, independent studying, group work, observing school lessons, practising teaching and writing a short thesis.
Detailed course descriptions can be found in Finnish here. Since the course details exist only in Finnish I thought it might be useful to list them in English as well.

Let’s go through the courses one by one, starting from the basic studies:

  • Sociology of Education (4 credits)
    -History of education
    -Basic concepts of sociology
    -Education and learning as a cultural phenomena
    -Possibilities of education and growth
    -General knowledge of methods used in educational sociology
    and how to apply those in practice
  • Educational psychology (4 credits)
    -Interactive nature of a person’s growth and learning
    -Biological, psychological, social and cultural aspects of growth and learning
    -Different development phases
  • Principles of subject teaching (3 credits)
    -Orientation for subject teaching
    -Introduction to various curriculums
    -Inspecting teaching material critically
    -Basic principles of planning a lesson
    -Ethical principles of teaching and studying
  • Basics of school administration and legislation (2 credits)
    -Principles of school administration and legislation in various school levels
  • Internship in a school, part 1 (5 credits)
    -Familiarization with school environment and different learning groups
    -Inspecting group management
    -Reflecting one’s own school background and cultural factors to teaching
    -Inspecting curriculums
    -Information technology in teaching
    -Includes 6 hours of teaching
  • Principles of learning and reviewing teaching (3 credits)
    -Basic concepts of teaching, learning and reviewing
    -Interactive approaches to teaching
    -Supporting pupils’ learning
  • Educational theory (4 credits)
    -Basics of educational theory
    -Classical questions of educational theory and common research topics

Next we’ll go through the advanced courses:

  • Subject teacher’s development (6 credits)
    -Inspecting more in depth various learning environments and the use of information technology in teaching
    -Evaluation of teaching methods
    -Lesson planning
  • Supporting students’ learning and well-being (2 credits)
    -Identifying common learning disabilities
    -Teaching methods that identify individual learning needs
    -Supporting learning and interaction
  • Subject teacher in a work environment and society (4 credits)
    -Teacher’s ethics
    -Active citizenship, human rights and democracy
    -About safe working environment
    -Planning cross-curricular subject teaching
  • Internship in a school, part 2 (5 credits)
    -Planning, carrying out a lesson and reflecting upon it
    -Making use of information technology in teaching
    -Creating a safe learning environment
    -Includes 20 hours of teaching
  • Internship in a school, part 3 (6 credits)
    -Improving school subject knowledge (e.g. math)
    -Planning a teaching period based on a curriculum
    -Improving group management skills
    -Inspecting electronic applications for school tests
    -Teaching people from various cultures
    -Thoughts about one’s own teaching style
    -Includes 20 hours of teaching
  • Internship in a school, part 4 (4 credits)
    -Improving communication and social skills
    -Acknowledging teachers’ impact on society
    -Inspecting cooperation between schools and the society
    -Awareness of constant need of teaching evolution
    -Includes 16 hours of teaching
  • Developing subject teaching and research (3 credits)
    -General information about subject research (e.g. biology)
    -Information searching skills
    -Analysing research material
  • Seminar (5 credits)
    -Planning and carrying out a short thesis
    -Presenting the thesis and reviewing other students’ theses
    -Researching teacherhood

I conclude by acknowledging that this post might have been a bit boring, but during next posts I shall go through important themes in teaching and will investigate how the Finnish education system could be improved. Stay tuned.

And please, any comments and questions are very welcome!