This time teachers and school developers from Denmark and Finland gathered in Bedford for a week in October. The week was full of different school visits, great conversations about the English educational system and observation of the three T’s (time, talent and technology (and trust)).
Our visit to England started with a reunion in a local restaurant. After a fun evening together it was time to start the activities. On the first day we had a chance to visit the University of Bedfordshire. It was very interesting to hear about the English school system. We spent the next days in different schools where participants got to know the school, observe lessons and even teach microlessons. The last day of the week provided again an opportunity for each delegation to present their thoughts and reflections to each other and discuss together.
When discussing technology we found similar things that came up in both Finnish and Danish reflections. For us technology education in England seems like a separate entity from other education. This led to discussions about how to integrate technology in schools in order that it would be helpful and useful in pedagogical way.
Reflections on talent included discussions on grouping of pupils and ranking. One big topic was also trust. We noticed that headmasters trust their teachers but the lack of trust is evident from the government’s side and that leads to ongoing testing and registrations.
In a time perspective we talked about structured lessons and classrooms. Everything seemed to be very structured and that was one thing that was different from Finnish schools where we don’t have strict schedules and pupils may have just one or two tasks per lesson. Overall our visit to Bedford was great and we learned a lot about the English perspective to education and at the same time gained new insight into our own system.
Asta Ansolahti and Kati Sormunen / The Innokas Network
A team of Finnish teachers, principals and project workers spent a week in Copenhagen continuing working on the Erasmus 3T -project where educational professionals from Finland, Britain and Denmark come together to reflect on each others’ educational systems and make observations on Time, Talent and Technology in schools.
We had the privilege of visiting three local schools and having deep conversations about pedagogy. We found that Copenhagen in Denmark is not only geographically but also educationally situated half way between Britain and Finland. There are some elements that the Finnish and Danish educational systems have in common like the culture of trust and student involvement. Then again with regards to assessment, national testing is something that brings the Danish system closer to the British system.
How these elements are realized within the educational system are however dependent on many things such as legislation, culture and socioeconomic aspects. For instance the Danish culture of trust and the freedom of choice that follows from it can mean that schools and principals can allocate lesson hours freely. In Finland we have a high degree of freedom as well, but more strict legislation concerning lesson hours which guides the decisions made on the school level. Efforts to develop school have similar goals in Denmark as in Finland. 21st century skills and cross-curricular learning are in the focus in both systems. Reforms however seem to come more often in the Danish system.
The challenge of these intercultural exchanges and experiences is the way we observe and interpret our observations. Are we interpreting activities on the level of single schools? Can these observations be interpreted to represent the whole educational system? The way to get the best result is to hold continuous discussions alongside visits and allow each partner to give feedback on interpretations. Only in true dialog can we reach an understanding of each other and find those transferable and adjustable ‘take-home-messages’ that help us develop our own system and professionalism.
Laura Salo/ The Innokas Network