The first time I went on a trip for the DSoE-project it was to visit Dublin and learn more about the project. I felt really priviliged to be able to do this, but I was not sure what I would learn or how I could contribute to the project. When I came home from Dublin I knew a lot more about the education system in Dublin and how ICT-tools are used – at least at the three schools I visited. But I also came home with the sensation of understanding what really happens with our learning about learning when we are not limited by the boundaries of our national education system.
This time I had the pleasure of going to Finland to learn more about their education system and how they use ICT-tools in their schools. My expectations were higher. I expected to learn something beyond what I can see and beyond what people can explain to me. Finland certainly delivered. I already knew that Finland has a good educational system and Finland has not made me disappointed. I think we were all impressed by the central organisation in Oulu as well as the autonomy of the schools in Oulu. We were impressed and a bit envious about the calmness in the schools and the harmony we felt as we were guided through them. We saw the impressive resources when it comes to school buildings as well as the ICT-tools and how they are used. We were impressed by the furniture built for educational purposes.
And then we hold it for a bit. And we think about it. We listen to the people working in the schools; the teachers and the principals. And we notice that some of our challenges are the same and some are different. No matter the resources or how well the edcuation system is seen by media, parents and society we all struggle with our challenges. And then the real learning starts. We are educators talking about education. We are trying to learn from each other. We are finding the universal language of educators as we put ourselves as learners in an international environment. Our common professionality transcends our differences and maybe we will raise our voice as international educators.
I will borrow a few words from the lecture given by Gerard McHugh and Robert O’Leary. We have a challenge in preparing our students for a world which we cannot describe. We must at all times strive to make our students learn how to think in world where media is allowed to simplify learning by displaying PISA results. Hopefully we succeed and the next generation of journalists will be better at describing the complexity of learning. There is a massive potential, and challenge, in using digital tools, to prepare our students to live and work successfully and effectively in a world increasingly dominated by technology.
I am on my journey home from Finland as I write this, but I am also on a journey learning more about education with my new and old friends from Ireland, Denmark, France, Finland, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Sweden. I would like to thank you all for sharing your thoughts, your challenges and your achievements. I thank you for all the fun we had and all the laughs. I do hope I will see you again. Special thanks goes to Finland for excellent hosting. Thank you Päivi Mäki and your crew for a full and challenging program containing learning on all kind of levels; school visits, workshops, lectures, nice dinners and so much more.
As I am closing my iPad, the plane is preparing for landing in Copenhagen and I feel quite tired. But there is also this energetic feeling coming from thinking about my visit to Finland. It feels good.
By Jenny Zander