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sunnuntai 18. joulukuuta 2011

The Fire in Greek Students Eyes

I @ilotimo had a unique Comenius project planning meeting in Athens Greece 8.-11.12. My school Voionmaa upper secondary school from Jyväskylä (video: 28 hours in Jyväskylä) , Finland  participate this project together with Greek, Lithuanian, Germany and Italy. We are applying this project in February, the big theme is parks in different countries. In Finland we are talking about national parks.

We had sudden possibility to join the project thanks for Twitter and my Greek teacher friend George Panagiotakopoulos @Physiart,  who asked couple months ago in Twitter to join the project and suddenly i was on my way to Athens with two  colleagues of mine, geography teachers Laura Sallinen and Kimmo Puttonen @kputtonen

In  Zohs school Athens we met just fabulous group of students, who where studying with project based learning about Cosmos and CERN - the European Organization for Nuclear Research
There has been national program of using PBL in every school in Greece. We had also used PBL a lot in Finland upper secondary schools, mainly in entrepreneurship studies, so we had lot of common practice and experiences to share with those super active students.
 I asked them about what their have learned in project based learning in 20 hands flew up simultaneously and they talked they story straight to three Finnish teachers hearts. We felt remarkably enthusiastic response. Their had learned teamwork, respect each other, making decisions, set up a goal together, to talk also difficult things, cooperation in all levels. 

Their also asked a lot of about Finnish education, our students, teachers, schools and then was our privilege to tell our story to these wonderful students. Cultural sharing at its best. 
We are now planning Skype seminar about CERN together with Finns and Greeks in January. 

Collaboration continues! 

Animoto video about Project Cosmos

torstai 24. marraskuuta 2011

Wales Teachmeet video speech about Finnish Education

Educator John Putt @wjputt asked me, if i could participate on their Teachmeet of Holywell High School 23.11.2011. I had same time my school parents evening, so i decided to make a video with help of my iPad. Presentations of Teacmeet last 7 minutes, and here is my 7 minutes of fame in friday afternoon, in my school office. iPad worked really great this sort of "live" presentations. Thanks for this opportunity to collaborate among colleagues of Wales.

Finnish education system by Timo Ilomäki from Timo Ilomäki on Vimeo.

sunnuntai 12. kesäkuuta 2011

The risk of being arrogant

For the last 10 years Finland has been one of the leading countries in education, what comes to PISA results. Last year Asia went by. Shanghai did excellent results. Also Korea. Many of us Finns, and many others too, thought: "Ok. They do first 8 hours public school, then 3-4 hours private school, then the homework for a few hours and then sleep for 8 hours and it starts again from the beginning." Part of this might be true. But it doesn't explain the whole thing.

I spent my Thursday and Friday at the National Leadership Forum on Education. One of the most interesting presentations was by Andreas Schleicher, an OECD Head of the Indications and Analysis Division. His presentation was "Strong performers and succesful reformers - education for the 21st century."

I'll give you just a few examples he raised.


Poland had approx. 400 000 university/college graduates/year in the year 2000. They raised the amount to 2 000 000 by the year 2010. What they did differently?

In the year 2000 and before they focused on the best performers. After that they started to focus on the public education and all of the students, not just the best. In ten years they had excellent results. They had 5 times more university graduates!


Shanghai didn't change the culture. They didn't change the education. Nor the teachers or principals. They CHANGED the way they look at the system. They made the better performing schools help the less good performing schools. They created co-operation, shared wisdom.

There is a risk of being arrogant in Finland. We know, how we got here. But do we really know now, how we keep our position? Are we courageous enough to do the reforms or innovations needed, to be on the top also in the year 2020?

perjantai 3. kesäkuuta 2011


One of the most significant differences of the Finnish school system compared to other countries' is that basically we don't do national tests at all and we don't do school rankings. Except for the media! They do. Every single year.

Last week Finnish national broadcasting company Mtv3 published their annual upper secondary school rankings. Once again some succeeded and and some didn't. Why? Was it because of the bad teaching?

Personally I don't believe in these kind of rankings. It's pretty easy to be on top if you get the best students in. But what if you live in the area where you can't choose the students. You have to take what you get.

I would prefer the rankings that would take in to account the level the students get in to the school. Personally I'm much more concerned about the schools who get good students in but produce only average graduates. What do they do wrong?

maanantai 30. toukokuuta 2011

Global Citizenship

A few days ago I was asked to give a presentation on the global citizenship at the teacher-info of the ARS11 exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art Kiasma, Helsinki. This is what I did:

I started with the basis of the Finnish national curriculum 2020. Much of the ground work lays on the ATC21S -meeting in Melbourne, Australia. Finland has also been involved with the ATC21S -work and signs of the work can be seen in our future curriculum.

The Finnish National Board of Education has a project right now on the global citizenship. The aim is to find ways of supporting global citizenship in our schools. How to educate global citizens? What is a global citizen?

In my point of view the global citizenship grows from the strong local identity. You have to feel secure to conquer the world. You'll have to have strong roots to grow the wings to fly to the world. You can't climb to a tree from the top!

A certain kind of teacher is needed to support the global citizenship. You have to make the cultural encounter possible. But before that you have to strengthen the local identity. Show the children where they are from.

After that they can go and proudly show the world who they are. But most of all, they can interact with the others and respect their cultural values without being afraid that it would destroy something from their own values.

sunnuntai 29. toukokuuta 2011

Back to basics

I have an enormously interesting task right now. I'm starting a new school as a principal of the school. The school is a normal public school, like most of the Finnish schools are. It is called Vuorenmäen koulu (Vuorenmäki School) or actually Vuorenmäen oppimiskeskus (Vuorenmäki Learning Center) and it is located in Southern Finland in Kirkkonummi.

The reason it is called a learning center is that we have not only a school but also a kindergarten and a pre school under the same roof. The school will be around 300-400 pupils and the pre school + kindergarten approx. 100 children.

We're supposed to build a model where we could use the "best of both worlds" -the school and the pre school + kindergarten. We are dreaming of a "beginners class" that could hold children from 6 to 8 years. That is to say from pre school to 2nd grade in Finland. During those 3 years a child could have all the possible help he/she needs. If some basic practicing would be needed even a 7 year old child could have some of the classes with the pre schoolers and if a pre schooler would have such abilities that he/she would get frustrated at pre school, the system would work the other way around too. Sounds good, doesn't it. So, that is the theory or strategy that we believe in at Vuorenmäki Learning Center.

Last week we had a meeting with the head of the kindergarten/pre school. We started with the basics. What is our learning theory? How we as educators see the child? What is a child to us? What are the values that we believe in?

We agreed that the childhood is a unique time of one's life. You can only live it once and we as adults should give it all the support we can.

We also agreed that a child should love to play and discover new things by exploring. A child is a curious child. A child should also be happy. It doesn't mean that a child should be happy at all times but we thought that a child should have certain kind of trust that his/her life is in balance and that he/she can trust that the adults around him/her will support the balance.

Of course we know that it's not always like this. We put aims or goals. We wanted to have a vision that would be worth all the efforts and work.

Then we talked about the learning theory that we believe in. We found out that both of us believed in a life-long learning and in a learning path that would be as solid and connected as possible. No unnecessary gaps but a solid ground to build future learning to.

We agreed that we want to support learning by doing, curiosity and alternating the learning methods to build up the will to learn.

All in all we wanted to build an athmosphere were everyone could find their strengths and where everyone could feel accepted and safe.

Starting a new school is great challenge. I've started two radio stations in my past. But starting a new school is much more complicated. You really have to look in the mirror and believe in the eyes that are looking back at you. That's why these kind of talks are needed -to test your views and opinions. Sometimes it's really rewarding to go back to the basics.

torstai 26. toukokuuta 2011

Innovative and learning community

Nothing will ever replace people and good interaction. We want to get people together to share. It is important to put people talking each other. Successful, spontaneus meeting could improve understanding and at the best we discover something new. With this method we can progress creativity. Innovations are simple : two separate things or thoughts put together could give us a totally new one. Remember KISS (keep it simple with students) !

For us this learning community with all participants (teachers, students, other staff) means listening their thoughts, involvement, positive attitude and growing together. We want to see oppurtunities everywhere and learn from these challenges. We want to learn from every our members, because youngster can teach us in many areas. Only you have to listen them carefully and take them seriously.

We need to learn how to lead ourselves. You can't lead others until you can lead yourself. How you lead your actions, feelings, tasks and thoughts. That is the BIG question for everyone. So we must observe and evaluate ourselves. And for this job we need other people to do that.

We believe that we need more sharing, learning and leading in the future.

Aki Puustinen
Headmaster of Muurame High School

tiistai 24. toukokuuta 2011

Videobroadcasting classrooms in Finland

This is a short view how the videobroadcasting classrooms are build and how easy it is to operate by Headmaster Jukka Sormunen from Kuopion klassillinen upper secondary school, Finland.
Hole system was developed with co-operation with The University of Eastern Finland and Mr. Ilkka Kukkonen, http://fi.linkedin.com/in/kukkonen

More about Klassikka:
Video demofolder: http://bit.ly/lqeq1c (advance math class by Mr. Sakari Svärd)

Europeanism and the European Union

Europeanism and the European Union

An optional and specialization course in social studies in upper secondary schools.

Also some basic information about Finnish School system, Upper Secondary School, social studies in Finnish Upper Secondary Schools.

I have made this for study visit "Building European Identity through Spirit, Senseand Meaning" (BEAM) in Klagenfurt, Austria, October 2010. This was my lesson for students who were involved in BEAM.

maanantai 23. toukokuuta 2011

Education in Finland

Here's a recording of a presentation I gave in Canada back in 2010 about the Finnish education system. Might be of interest.

sunnuntai 22. toukokuuta 2011

Leading school via teams

Schools have too much hurry for a good, deep conversation and dialogue. Teachers meetings are full of items and leaders can't listen every each teacher and their voice in normal daily life. Mainly principals work should be listening folks and talking with them.

That's way schools should have another forum for discussion and dialogue. We have noticed that teams inside the school has given us plenty of time to innovate and talk. Both of our schools teams (entrepreneursship and sustainable teams) include 7 teachers and 2-3 students. This way also students take part planning the school year and other events.

Teams make their own goals and targets for the school season and how they measure that and who persons are in charge for actions. Principal belong both teams but only as an expert and member of team, not as headmaster. Teams have little money for goods and teachers get salary for doing this kind of work. Also we use immaterial goods paying the job. Team members usually share the leadership of the team. Also students can lead their team as well. This kind of system has given us more discussion and more flat organization model. And it really works !

Aki Puustinen
Headmaster of Muurame High School