I am taking a class at the University of Jyvaskyla in the Juliet Program which offers classes in English to Finns who want to improve their English language skills and exchange students at the JYU. In addition to Finns, there are students from Austria, Germany and Ireland. The title of the course translated into English via google translate is: Applied Part of Handicraft. There are two instructors: Pasi Ikonen for technical craft with hard materials which includes metal and wood work and Ulla Kiveniemi for textile crafts with soft materials which includes sewing, knitting, felting, crochet and macrame.
The course requirements include:
According to the course description, the course instructs teacher education students in designing and evaluating handicraft teaching as part of a broader learning set, handicraft pedagogical approaches, human being as a modifier of his environment.
I have visited Tikkakoski Comprehensive school (grades 1-9) three times since I arrived in Jyvaskyla one month ago. Tikkakoski is about 25 km north of Jyvaskylaa and the teachers I met there refer to it as a small village school. My main contact there is a woman who teachers textile craft and English.
Last week, I spent a day with her classes teaching them about Colorado and doing a great observation exercise called "what's going on in this picture," an exercise I do with my students in Colorado. "What's going on in this picture" is a project offered on the New York Times website. Every Monday, the NYT publishes a photo, current or historical, without the caption and students from around the world post ideas about what they think is going on. Students can comment on other comments and sometimes moderators from the NYT will comment on insightful student postings. On the following Thursday, the NYT posts the caption and some background info on the context of the image.
In the Tikkakoski class we did the exercise with an image posted from last spring because we had access to the caption when we were finished with the discovery part.
First step: Each student says out loud something that they see in the image. Ask each student to find the object or item that their classmate has noticed. This allows students to see things that they might not have noticed themselves. Students can not name something that someone else has already stated. I will point out each item or object so that everyone sees where it is. If the group is small, go around the group a couple of times.
Second Step: Ask students to use their detective skills to determine what is the general location of the image and the time of year. Clothes, street signs, vegetation, machines, land characteristics and architecture are clues. For both where and when, students should back up their ideas with evidence from the image.
Third Step: Ask students to hypothesize about what is going on in the picture from the information they have noticed. Again, they should give evidence from the image to back up their ideas.
This is a great exercise for all students in all class subjects because it encourages practicing observation skills and moving to higher level thinking of analyzing and evaluating the information discovered. English Language Learners enjoy it too. They can practice vocalizing individual words and then use simple sentences to describe their ideas. Even though their spoken English is at a beginner level, they are engaged in higher level thinking. In the art room, students practice with this exercise for a few weeks and then use the process to analyze art where meaning is often less clear or certain.
Here's the link for the NYT:
Try it! It's fun, active learning and the kids enjoy it.
During my first week in Jyvaskyla, I met my University of Jyvaskyla adviser who is a lecturer in the Department of Education and her specialty is textiles. The University of Jyvaskyla has one of the largest teacher training programs in Finland.
Later that week, she took me to the Norssi school (grades 1-9) located on the University campus to observe a practicum student. In Finland, students attend their neighborhood school and Norssi is the neighborhood school for the area around the University. It is where teacher candidates from the University begin to teach lessons. My adviser and I along with the students’ classroom teacher were scheduled to observe a young woman teaching her first textile lesson.
When we arrived at the classroom, the young woman, who looked like a high school student herself, was preparing for the lesson and came over to sit with us for a few minutes before the class started. After a moment of introductions, she broke down in tears from nerves. She exclaimed, “this my dream job, one I have been preparing for it for all my life.” She was shaking she was so nervous. I was taken aback by her emotion and desire to be a teacher. In that moment, I reflected on the status of teaching in primary and secondary school as a career in the U.S.: it is not highly respected.
In Finland, teaching is one of the most respected professions and only students at the very top of their class are accepted to teacher education programs. At the Fulbright Finland Orientation, we learned that in Finland it is harder to be accepted to a teacher training school than to medical school. Imagine.
My adviser explained the process for acceptance at the University of Jyvaskyla Education program.
This is not for a job but for place in a teacher education program. Imagine.
Teaching is a complex and complicated job. A successful teacher needs content knowledge and a variety of skills and characteristics to do the job well. They are:
In the long term, more rigorous requirements and assessment of whether a person is well suited for the profession might benefit teacher candidates and school aged students. Imagine.
I am a high school art teacher from Boulder Valley School District in Colorado studying craft education in Jyvaskyla, Finland. I am in Finland through a grant from the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching program and the Fulbright Finland Foundation.