The big project for my university class is to make a product that is either personally or professionally useful and uses skills from textile crafts and technical crafts (wood and metal work.) The final product can be 2 projects, one made of soft materials or textiles and one made of metal or wood or a combination of the two, or one project that incorporates textiles and metal and/or wood.
Project Idea: When I arrived in Finland I had only a waist length down jacket. I found that the front of my upper legs got really cold when I was walking around outside. The back of my legs and my lower legs didn't get as cold. Could I make something that protects my upper legs from the cold, goes over my pants and is easy to get on and off?
Personal Development Goal: Make a project using sewing techniques because I don't have a lot of experience with sewing.
Last Monday, I returned to Tikkakoski school and spent most of the day in the technical craft classroom. Technical craft is working with hard materials like metal and wood. I saw 6th and 7th graders learning how to MIG weld and spot weld. Some students were finishing a wooden cutting board that they made from scratch. Other students were working on a peg/hook coat hanger. The design and material (wood or metal) was their choice. They had to draw a detailed design on paper with measurements and have it approved by the teacher before they could start working.
When you look at the photos of the facility keep in mind that this school serves grades 1-9.
There are very clear and strict rules about using the power tools and machines. Some tools/machines may be used by students independently, some may be used with direct adult supervision (which has been me at times) and some may only be used only by the teacher. Students seem to respect these rules and conditions for working the technical craft workshop.
Students younger than 4th grade do not work in this space. There is a smaller room that focuses mainly on work with hand tools. In that room, there is a band saw and a couple of jigsaws which students can use with supervision.
The soft crafts class at Norssi school, the school located on the campus of the University of Jyvaskyla, is outfitted with sewing machines, sergers, lots of work space, storage space and materials. In general, I have found the classrooms and craft rooms to be clean and uncluttered and students and teachers do not eat in the classrooms.
The facilities and equipment are great. Students begin craft classes in grade 1 using hand tools and progress to machines in about 3rd grade. In the past, girls were encouraged to take textile crafts and boys technical craft which is similar to shop. With the new Finnish education curriculum, boys and girls are exposed to both textile and technical craft.
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.