How Can We Work to Consistently Cultivate Values of Thoughtfulness and Empathy Without Directly Teaching it?

As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers from Cathy Rubin’s Global Search for Education, this is my answer to this question:

Atmosphere of school

In early 2000 British school evaluators were invited to visit some Finnish schools. I was wondering how it is possible that people who don’t even understand our language, can get any picture from our school? Later when I was myself a principal and had the opportunity to visit in many schools around Finland and some aboard, I did understand. Only looking, doing observations how students, teacher-student and teacher-teacher meet and talk to each other, you can get a picture of the atmosphere of the school. Also looking the corridors and common spaces, you get the idea of how students and their work are respected in the school.

In my opinion the ground for good learning environment for students is the prevalent human understanding of staff. How attended the teacher is with every student. I have seen schools where teachers did not say good day when passing by a student! I have been in situations when teacher is more bullying than educating student. Mostly I have seen teachers with sincere care and interest to the student’s life. School has to have values which everyone in the school knows. Every year there comes new students in the school so those values are good for them to know too.  The leader of the school has the most important role to maintain and show that values are respected in the school community.

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Photo: Steve Weaver

Role of teacher

How we behave in daily situations in school? We have hundreds of ears and eyes around us. We are role models for students all the time, even we are not conscious about it.  We can operate as agents of high ethics modelling acceptance and empathy. Furthermore, as teachers it is important to promote the development of social and emotional skills and knowledge in our students that promote mindfulness, empathy and compassion. We can be facing situations like bulling where we are expected to have opinion or solution to solve the situation.

It is important that as teachers we have common ideas when building the rules of schools. Are the rules of the school more for discipline or as a guideline to increase young people’s understanding of wrong and right? There are still schools in this world which have detention time instead of having discussions why the student did something not acceptable. In some countries teachers are still allowed to use a cane to hit and discourage the student! These practices support distrust and unfairness. How to promote the values of thoughtfulness and empathy?

What role do we give for students in the school?

I am so proud of the ways how the biggest celebrations are organized in my school. All the students from the grades 5, 3 and 1 are performing in the end of autumn term.  All students from the grades 6, 4 and 2 are performing in the end of spring term. Teachers have planned such program numbers that every child has a role. Every child is appreciated and have an important role in school community.

In many countries students have their own school faculty, where they learn how to influence and give their opinion what they want to have or change in the school practices. What about when they have a change in planning of their studies? In the Finnish curriculum this is one of the most interesting adding to student’s rights.

Shortly, celebrating unity diversity in different level, opens the doors to ethics and support high values of thoughtfulness and empathy. I hope that schools provide the best education opportunities for every child across the globe.  I hope that schools sets students on positive life tracks that will carry humankind, today and tomorrow.

How Do We Ensure the Next Generation is One Which Communicates Civically, Values Honesty and Recognizes Reality?

I was honored to be named in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2017. This month we look to answer the following question “ How do we ensure the next generation is one which communicates civically, values honesty and recognizes reality?”

My school in Kirkkonummi supports the family’s upbringing. Together with the guardians we carry out our school values, which are safety, honesty, responsibility, respect and joy of learning. Our values are in the eye of a storm! In this world we have reached the point where we have to emphasize the meanings of values in our school work .Do the values mean anything anymore if the adults act against general values and procedures? Is it okay to do whatever it takes just to achieve your own goals? Even the USA has a president that claims lies to be true. We hear arguments that something is true because it feels like it!

What separates the right news from the wrong one? How do you know if the news are true or false? Schools around the world are now pondering around the basic question. What do we need schools for? The strong common knowledge and the knowledge of history and culture, give us an ability to understand people who think differently from us. When we study foreign languages it gives us the opportunity to follow other countries’ data exchange. The media education has a key position while practicing student’s ability to analyze the data flow and its truthfulness. How prepared are our schools to quickly update our curriculum in this rapidly changing world?  Are we alone in this task?

In Finland in February from the year 1995 we have had a News week in schools. The News week is an important campaign between schools and the newspapers. – one of the biggest media education event in the whole Finland. During the week the newspaper companies give the contents of their digital papers to schools for free. The teachers can find information and teaching tips from sanomalehtiopetuksessa.fi site. And even invite a reporter to school. Finnish press companies have made material for all schools (sanomalehtiopetuksessa.fi) to study the reliability of media.

We had the News week during 30.1.- 3.2.2017 and the press challenges us to ponder our own media world, what do you believe in the internet and why. The press all over the world is worried about the ability to read media and about transmitting the right knowledge. We have seen earlier how the work of press have been restricted, how the reporters have been threatened even killed. We have seen how the media houses have been taken over so that the new conquers have reached their position. Beside that we are now facing the so called fake news world.

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Photo: Maarit Rossi

It’s natural to gather people around you that think like you, so does children and adults. But if your view of the world is made by your mates’ opinions or just by a few news or publications – there is a danger of a very narrow picture to things. Special groups will be formed, groups that only want one truth. Democracy makes this possible but democracy only works if we accepts others’ opinions and give space to real facts. The task is challenging as well to schools as for private teachers. The co-operation between schools and professional press companies make this possible and in the same time show young people how adults defend democracy.

The media education is more important than ever and will probably always be part of school education. As an adult I just hope that the children can remain as children long enough. This adult world can wait!

 

 

What is the Best Gift You Would Recommend for Your Students this Holiday Season?

I was honored to be named in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2016. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “ What is the best gift you would recommend for your students this holiday season?”

My December blog writer is Kirsti Savikko, my sister, Headteacher in Kähäri school,Turku, Finland.

In Finland we are closing our fall term at school. 18 weeks of hard labour! Well, not only hard  we’ve had some fun, too. We have familiarized ourselves with the new curriculum OPS2016 since August. Some things – hopefully – have changed a lot and some things have remained the same. We believe that students in ages 7-12 learn best by playing. In a good, educational play:

– you have to take others in condiseration

– you have to find your best way to reach the goal

– you have to follow the rules

– you sometimes have to find the right questions

– you sometimes have to play together with an other player

– you have to strive to the end – even if you don’t like the game!

I could go on this list forever but I think you’ve got the idea.

So what do I tell my students to do during the holiday? Play games? Perhaps. Get some rest? Sleep late? Forget the school? Read some extra? Reread the subjects? This list could also be quite long.

But what I really would like to give them is a gift. Not just any gift or present wrapped in a silver paper. The gift of dreaming.

I’d urged them to reminisce when they small, smaller than today. When they were small and they still believed in Santa (who honestly lives in Finland!). When December started, Christmas carols were heard in the malls, mother baked gingerbreads, father looked mysterious, everyone being nice and helpful…. To catch that feeling again. Waiting for something special to happen. Not really knowing what or when. But the sense of expectation, the warm feeling, the tickle in the stomach… that feeling is worth the search. It will give them a huge amount of motivation, duration and eagerness for the coming spring term.

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Photo: Maarit Rossi

Sometimes the reality is something very different. There is no warmth around you. Nothing to expect. No one to share it with. And the future looks frightening. If you have this one gift – the gift of  dreaming, you can fight your miseries, you can leave them behind if only for a little while. Maybe the thing you expect and want most is the school start. There you have people who care about you. Want the best for you. And believe me, the school will begin again in January!

The things we want or need can be very different. But the ability to dream and hope is the one gift that can save us.

Joyful Season Greetings

How Do You as Teachers Support Children Who are Confused or Frightened by Events Going on in the World?

I was honored to be named in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2016. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “How do you as teachers support children who are confused or frightened by events going on in the world?”

My November blog writer is Kirsti Savikko,Headteacher in Kähäri school,Turku, Finland.

It was almost four years ago, one beautiful spring morning one of my teachers asked me if I could take her lesson because she had an appointment in the hospital. She had suffered heartburn for a longer period and they were going to endoscopy her stomach. She would be back after lunch. She never came….. She had a “garden – a cancer plant garden” as she herself subscribed to us later on, in her stomach. The news was devastating to us and to her students.

The class got a substitute teacher – and we all tried to go on with our work and lives. The substitute teacher didn’t have an easy job. The students were sad, felt lost and probably also angry – and the only way they could express their feelings was anger and frustration towards the substitute teacher. We all tried to support and help the students and the teacher. A year later it was again one beautiful early spring morning when we got the phone call that she had lost her battle.

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Photo: Maarit Rossi

During that year we had all been sad, desperate and uncertain about the future. But we have had hope – she was ill but she was alive. Now that thin and vulnerable string of hope was also gone. For bad things that happen in life, we have at school a sorrow box. It’s not a box of sorrow – it doesn’t contain items of sorrow. On the contrary it contains items to heal the sorrow. It has practical things like a white, clean tablecloth, candles, matches, an empty photo frame…… It also has poems, comforting words and stories. It has telephone numbers to experts that can help you in different ways. We had a quiet ceremony in the classroom, knowing that the pain was too near and too strong just on that day. Afterwards we talked a lot, memorized the good times, cried a lot and put her picture on the table and lighted a candle.

Over the years I have been forced to buy a bigger sorrow box. As the sorrow has many different colors so have the disasters many different ways to influence our lives. I have had disasters in my life and I have dealt them in my way. But I have to say I felt small and lost when I had to comfort the entire school unity. Bad things happen all the time around us in smaller and bigger scale. Family abuses, fires, killings, school threats, wars, climate change, endangered species…… How can we support our students? Or can we? Being at the same time in that same fear. Yes, we can and we should. We should all have some kind of a sorrow box somewhere. Fill it with our experiences, feelings, comforts and hopes. We should tell our students the facts – and tell them that it’s okay to be scared BUT to trust adults around them – parents and teachers – that we will take care of them the best we can.

How Can we Maximize the Value of Art and Music in Education and How Can it be Blended with more Traditional Subjects (Math, Science, History etc.)?

I was honored to be named in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2016. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question: How can we maximize the value of art and music in education and how can it be blended with more traditional subjects (math, science, history etc.)?

Traditionally in schools music, sports and arts are well viewed in school festivals. You can see art in the school halls and in classrooms’ walls. But visiting schools all over the world I have seen schools with none or very little student works on the walls. By putting students’ drawings in open the school administration and the teachers show that they appreciate students and their art.

Mathematics gives enormous amount of possibilities to link arts and architecture. From the very first grades you can teach the students to observe their environment. What shapes can you see in the buildings on your way home? Does some proportions look nicer than others? What kind of shapes can you see on the surfaces on buildings, streets, fabrics? Together with geography, history and arts teachers the math teachers can make a broad entirety of the influence of the visual art and construction art to our environment. On my journeys I have taken photos of gardens’ and buildings’ geometrical shapes.

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Topkapi Palace, Istanbul. Photo: Maarit Rossi

You can find fine shapes and their combinations of street tiles also near you, in the suburbs. Teaching students to observe the beauty around us and its link to history and culture is an excellent way of lifting the meaning and appreciation of art in our lives.

The students in the upper grades are charmed and motivated when linking mathematics to visual and construction arts. Again the teacher has a possibility to work with subject unity. When my students are learning 3D geometry they are building miniatures of city parts. They build the parts of paper and glue them according to their plans. The city is built on a movable surface, where you can later put miniature trees and color the buildings. With history teacher they can study the different construction styles. The finished cities are put in the open for the whole school.

In mathematics you often practice finding patterns in numbers and shapes. In this content the task could be: What kind of shapes and their combinations can cover a surface? What kind of pictures continue in surfaces or regular solids? The art teacher can take Escher’s interesting art under study and the students can plan their own continuous shapes on regular solids’ surfaces.

When studying parallel and perpendicular lines in geometry you could also work with optical illusions. How to make two line segments look different long when they actually are the same?

Together with arts you could practice the perspective with one point or two points. Has a human always drawn pictures three-dimensional? A trip to the nearest arts museum will deepen the students’ understanding for cultural development and human’s influence in culture during a longer time perspective. How long time line segment you have to draw, how to divide it to different eras and where will the human step in?

In the history of mathematics we can find many interesting people whom we can call their era’s renaissance- people due to their versatility. Studying Leonardo Da Vinci’s human propositions, his skills in drawing and three-dimensional paintings, can be brought into many math lessons. Mr. Fibonacci can be introduced for example in number patterns and Durer’s number square, magic square 1524, in basic calculations.

Mathematics will show its strength when handling these interesting subjects while studying these concepts in mathematics. We don’t want that mathematics is a mystery we can’t understand. We don’t want to use math as the ancient secret societies used. Their logo was a geometric shape that comes out of two equilateral triangles.

How do You Help Students Accept and Work Well with People of Different Beliefs, Cultures, Languages, Socio-economic Statuses, Education Backgrounds, and Learning Styles?

I was honored to be named in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2016. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “How do you help students accept and work well with people of different beliefs, cultures, languages, socio-economic statuses, education backgrounds, and learning styles? “

My August blog writer is my colleague Jaana Lindfors, Kirkkoharju school, lecturer of Finnish language and literature, Kirkkonummi.

Crossing the bridge to become a global citizen

The world is falling apart. It seems that the people walking on earth understand each other less and less. The rifts between nations are getting deeper and wider. We desperately need professional bridge builders. Bridges make us world citizens. Without them we will lose the touch permanently. “We” becomes “they” and “others”. The fear increases.

A child cannot choose to which society he’s born, nor will he grow as a responsible participant world citizen without the grownups support. School has a crucial role in this bridge building work. To this job the schools need concrete working methods.

In Finland the Ministry of Education have produced practical models in educating world citizens. In this program a lot of new ways was developed in global-, media- and nationality education. The outcome is a bank of ideas, from which the teacher could take influences to his own teaching. Maailmankansalainen ja media –hankkeet (The world citizen and media –programs):

http://www.oph.fi/download/48099_maailmankansalainen_ja_media.pdf

Sustainable development and friendship over culture borders

The school board in City of Oulu and Kerttuli school in Turku invented tools to make immigrant students equal and active members of the school community. The immigrant students were educated as ambassadors in sustainable development and they went from school to school to share their knowledge to Finnish students.

Messages to Morogoro – can you hear Africa?

The students in Riihimäki school in Mäntsälä and Syväkangas school in Kemi created connections to Africa. They noticed that their thoughts and feelings with their age-mates were very similar despite the continents. The Riihimäki school stepped very open minded face-to-face with Tansanian children in a program called Face – Facing – Face to Face.

Creative recycling in Kirkkonummi

The textile and art groups in Kirkkoharju school in Kirkkonummi deepened their studies in decreasing consumption and sustainable way of living in theory and in practise. The themes of living sustainably were brought vividly to young people’s world. They bought cheap textile from recycling centers and sewed them to look something new. They visited the biggest dump in Scandinavia and made there their own environmental promises.

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Products made of recycled material. Photo: Marja Lahtia

Virtual expeditions to foreign countries

The Jokela villageschool in Raahe travelled to imaginative journeys to ten countries. The virtual journeys produced a lot of new knowledge, student’s media creations, crashed prejudices and enrichened the whole school life.

The young media makers took their first steps

The Linkkala school in Forssa studied in many different ways the water theme and made a model for further project. The goal was to increase knowledge of the Baltic Sea and work together with another Baltic nation – the Estonians. They had a contact with a school in Tallinn, the Rocca al Mare school.

Stories of a multicultural house

One tenth of Martinlaakso school’s students in Vantaa, have a foreign background. They made a collective play together. The idea was to give a voice and face to school’s own immigrant students.

Get global – the youth made a Net magazine, gourmet trips and ecological acts

The students of Myllyharju school in Loviisa wrote about their experiences in an English Net magazine. Secondary school students edited an English Get Global Net magazine, where eco acts and gourmet trips were made. They also attuned co-operation with other foreign schools. The school wanted to create new ways of advancing sustainable development in their own environment and in a global world.

At the end

The culture is born in a society. If we teachers believe in a human picture that all humans despite their habitation are willing to learn new, create art and think deeply, we are in a good way. Beyond that we need courage and small acts.

 

What Are the Important Skills, Behaviors and Attitudes that Students Need to Become Contributing Global Citizens?

I was honored to be named in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2016. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “What are the important skills, behaviors, and attitudes that students need to become contributing global citizens?“

 – here is my response:

My students are taking part in a 3-year Erasmus program. They are finding out and studying their possibilities to influence and act for the global climate change. In my opinion the best part of this program is that students from Germany, UK and Finland meet each other, work together and visit each others’ schools. These possibilities give them enormous chances to become global citizens. This spring the students met for the first time in Finland in Kartanoranta school.

The third weekend in April the students accommodated in Finnish families. And during the week got to know the families’ habits of living. It takes a lot of adapting for a 10-year old to be away from home, tolerate some home sickness and act independently though in safe circumstances. On Monday their first lesson was mathematics. The curriculum for 5th grades includes statistics and that if something they are going to need during the 3-year project.

The students introduced themselves before entering the classroom. I divided them in groups consisting all nationalities. I had gathered beforehand a lot of different statistics from different newspapers to each group. “The using of bicycle helmets by provinces in 2014”, “The egg consume 2006-2015”, “Living solo has increased in Finland from the 1990s”, “Divorces in Helsinki in 1971-2010” etc. The challenge for the Finnish students was to explain the contents of the statistics so they had to use their skills in English. The first task in the group was to make a question to each other. The students had no difficulty in setting to work. The Finnish students asked me every now and then the meaning of some words. The atmosphere in the classroom was nice and spontaneous. The second task was to choose one of the statistic and make a question of it in front the class both in English and in Finnish. Everyone participated and were holding up their hands and answering. At this point I, by talking to the students, assured the names of the statistic graphs, how important is the figures title and how to mark the axis.

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Photo: Maarit Rossi

The third phase in the task was to make a statistic of their own. The data was collected in the classroom. Only one group member was allowed to collect the data. So they had to share their tasks. They discussed the type of the diagram they would choose, who will collect the information and who will draw the figure. They had to decide the title together, which information comes to the axis and what is the base for the axis. The group topics were: How did you come to school today? How many siblings you have? What’s your favorite color? What eye colors do we have in the classroom? What pets do we have? How many boys and girls? Divide a year in quarters – how does the birthdays set to each quarters?

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Photo: Maarit Rossi

I could almost touch the enthusiasm in the classroom! Some students made their first statistics of something that touched their lives! There was a lot of laughter, medley of languages and still purposeful study at the same time. Finally I got all the statistics to myself. And this had taken only two lessons!

This was the first learning experience together. The week was full of different learning situations from visiting the science center Heureka to an excursion in the forest. By the end of the week the departing feelings were sad but at the same time looking forward to the next meeting. Though the students may partly change, lifelong friendships were already born.

I have followed many EU projects between schools for almost two decades. The plans build bridges and maintain world peace and at the same time make it possible for the young people to become world citizens.

The teachers also need experience in working with other teachers. The task must be meaningful. I was training Chinese teachers in an occasion arranged by FICEA (Finland-China Education Association). The teachers were getting to know the interdisciplinary math. They made the same statistics exercises and learned how to make math interesting, meaningful and fun for the students.

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Photo: Maarit Rossi

How can we teachers and schools get many more students to become acquainted with and to work with students from other countries? I saw my friend’s 10-year old boy give a task to his fellow-players in Minecraft environment. He defines the subject and how long they have time. His  ”acquaintances”, children from different parts of the world, fulfill the task and evaluate each others’ achievements. Here is a possibility for qualitative environmental tasks that children from all over world could solve together and become world citizens.

 

 

How Do We Inspire the Best and the Brightest to Become Educators?

I was honored to be named in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2016. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “How do we inspire the best and the brightest to become educators?

 – here is my response:

As a Finnish teacher I often end up answering the question: What and how we teachers act so that our school system is in the top of the world. The situation has been analyzed and has come to a conclusion that parts of our strength are f. eg respect of the profession, flexibility of the curriculum, teachers’ high level of education and autonomy of teaching methods. The students are well aware of these strength factors, so I strongly believe in their influence when applying for profession.

How have I experienced those factors? Have we succeeded even today to get the best of students enter in teaching profession?

  1. In our society education is still appreciated and this shows directly in the number of appliers to teacher education. The first step in applying for the education is sending the application form. The next step is entering the aptitude test – to which only some are called. Those who pass this test are able to start the studies for basic education. For example the Helsinki University takes 120 starters yearly. In 2015 there were 1832 appliers, of which 766 were called for the literary tests. 360 entered the aptitude tests and 120 were chosen. Under 10% of the whole amount.
  1. Flexibility of the curriculum means that I know which contents belong to different year classes and what my students are meant to learn during the year. With my colleagues we can plan and carry out study modules with the best way we want. And we of course take notice of the current local events. We can also arrange the core contents so that it supports the learning best. The curriculum isn’t a list of things to do it’s a guideline for our planning and executing our teaching.
  1. I have a full autonomy in teaching. I can choose the materials and teaching methods myself. Usually the teacher colleagues together choose the study books but I can still teach the way I want to, even with my own material. The most important thing is to get the students to learn and become inspired of their own learning. There are no school inspectors nor national tests. I myself observe the learning daily. I make my own tests or make them together with a colleague. We don’t give much homework. Childhood is about being together with your family and friends and getting a lot of active exercise outside. We aim for multiform assessment. I’m inspired by my students will to learn. The principals have conversations with teachers where they discuss and plan future schooling for them. I feel that I have a possibility to be creative in my work!

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Photo:  Elis Lindfors

Instead of control, competition, stress, standardized testing and the ranking list of schools we have warm relations with students, collaboration with colleagues and we feel we get highly professionalized, teacher-led encouragement and assessment.

How do we succeed in the future to get the best of students in education?

The world is changing fast more global and the children need to achieve skills to living and working together. This is a challenge for us teachers, too. We have to change our methods like pedagogy, how to collaborate with other experts and learn new kind of learning all the time.

The teacher training forum,  which consist of f.eg. Minister of Education and leader of Helsinki University Teacher Training Department, is challenging the whole Finnish education field to brainstorm new ideas for aims and means for the future education. The method they are using is a brainstorm in net. This is also an excellent example of a new and innovative way of acting.

In the end I want to quote William Doyle: “If you look closely and open your mind, you may see the School of Tomorrow.”  Would you like to be a teacher in Finland?

How Do We Do a Better Job of Cultivating Young Readers?

I was honored to be named in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2016. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “How do we do a better job of cultivating young readers? “

 – here is my response:

Reading could be modern

”The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” noted philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in the early 1900s. When there are no words, there is no understanding. Through language we control our lives. A man without words does not solve math problems, explicate his existence, let alone feelings.

People learn new words by reading. Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE’s news article (3rd of March, 2016) revealed astonishing figures: teens who read books knew up to 70,000 words and teens who didn’t read knew 15,000 words. The article tells the literacy and interest of reading of Finnish children and young people. The message is grim; At the age of junior high school, girls’ reading skills are clearly above the boys’ skills. The PISA study confirms this. Up to one fifth of the fifteen year-old boys are weak readers.

But then the tricky question. How to make young people read? First they need at least one good reading experience, or if they don’t yet have it, they need good tips for good books.

Pia can even make the boys to read

In Finland the libraries support strongly the teaching of literature. Jaana Lindfors, the teacher of mother language and literature, says that Pia Rahikainen is the pearl of Kirkkonummi library. Rahikainen brings the books so alive that the students get an compulsive urge to read them. Giving tips or as we say book talk, can tell a teacher a lot about her students.

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Photo: Maarit Rossi

The story in the book can be tough but it’s always fiction. Fiction can be a foundation for conversations of painful subjects because it puts you aside of the reality. By talking about Harry Potter you can talk about yourself. A good book talker – tipper – also finds out her listeners’ backgrounds. If somebody is afraid the strategy is different than the one among the “heavy” readers. The main goal is to get a good reading experience whether it’s the first or the hundredth time. Lindfors remembers one boy who after a good tip grabbed his lap full of books Pia had recommended. His mother wondered how it was possible to get an athletic boy to read so much.

The reading idols – come out!

When using the idols those who have succeeded in sports or in music are traditionally in the front row. They don’t need spokesmen. The literature needs. The need is acute because there are surveys that one fifth of 9th graders  boys can’t fill their job application. Mikko Toiviainen, working in the book- and music branch, is worried because the lack of words in the boys’ world means that their world is quite narrow. His campaign #evenboysread is seeking for reading, street-credibility role

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Photo: Jaana Lindfors

models. Toiviainen knows that reading affects straight to your ability to think, to your capacity for empathy and to your development in social skills. The campaign has reached many Finnish celebrities. The main target is that reading would become as sexy as mending the mopeds.

Thanks to Jaana Lindfors and Pia Rahikainen that I was invited to follow the 7th graders book talk. It’s great that the school and the library together seek means to keep the Finnish literacy on the top of the world.

What Are the Best Examples You Have Seen of Teachers Using Social Media to Enhance Learning?

I was honored to be named in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2016. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “What are the best examples you have seen of teachers using social media to enhance learning? “

 – here is my response:

Social media is a global campus

I have heard people blaming school to be an island isolated from external world. However, the world is breaking into the schools in real time, thanks to smart phones which can be found in almost every student’s pocket. If a media-critical-adult is experiencing information as overloaded and overwhelmed by a flood of news, what happens to the child? A tricky challenge for the current school is how to teach a child to read the media.

In Finland, the school is not alone with this challenge. We have an education partner YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Company) News Class – media education project, where students practice journalist work under the guidance of professional journalists. This   co-operation benefits all parties. Teachers will get diverse teaching material for the media teaching and the students learn real media work. And YLE will get a new dimension to their operations, the young people’s perspective of the world’s phenomena. Finnish teachers also have an access, first in the world, to use the free YLE News Class Triplet service which produces teaching material to classes every weekday morning. This service is intended for primary and secondary schools.

My colleague Jaana Lindfors from Kirkkoharju school collaborates News Class now for the second year. Lindfors can’t think of a better way to teach media literacy as letting the young people make News stories themselves. This operation has made her students social influencers. Last year was an election year in Finland and the students were right in the heart of policy making – with the help of YLE. The Prime Minister and Minister of Defence took part in Kirkkoharju News Class election interview. Also Mr President was interviewed. The open-minded questions of the young students brought a refreshing perspective to stagnated political jargon. The interviews were published on YLE website and TV broadcast, and they got glowing comments in social network. This year Kirkkoharju School’s News Class will make a radio program which they have brainstormed together.

When it was announced that I’m one of the top 10 finalists in Global Teacher Prize competition, Hanna Visala the news class producer from YLE knew right away that Kirkkoharju school is ready for action. News Class members Pihla Jokinen and Leo-Pauli Moisio were sent to Kartanonranta school to make a story. The 9-graders interviewed my 6-graders and as a result a News insert was ready to be published in YLE website (http://areena.yle.fi/1-3341820).This News Story is an excellent example that the students can learn the media activities also from each other.

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News Class members Pihla Jokinen and Leo-Pauli Moisio are ready to interview my  6-graders with Mikko Laine from YLE, photo: Hanna Visala.

The News Class will actively utilize social media. They know that information sharing is contemporary culture rather than pledging information. It is possible to learn to read the media and enjoy it. The 26th of April is the News Class day and on that day, the news graders are strongly present in the national and social network.

By this blog post I want to encourage teachers to open the doors and look for partners. By reading this you are utilizing social media and if you are interested to know more, please follow the News Class events at #uutisluokka.