Learn. Lead. Innovate.

Learn. Lead. Innovate

maanantai 28. syyskuuta 2020

Muuramen lukiolla yhteistyötä Lions klubin kanssa jo yli 20 vuotta

   Opinto-ohjaaja Raili Sandelin ja rehtori Aki Puustinen vastaanottavat kunniakirjat ja Lions/Leo viirit. Kuva : Martti Ronkainen

Muuramen lukio palkittiin pitkäjänteisestä yhteistyöstä Muuramen Lions klubin kanssa Riihivuoressa. 

Yhteistyön muotoja vuosien varrella ovat olleet Lions järjestön järjestämä vuosivaihto yhdelle 

opiskelijalle, 5 viikon kesävaihto Texasiin yhdelle opiskelijalle sekä Lions klubin musiikkistipendit 

lukiolle (4 kpl). Viime lukuvuonna Muuramen lukion opiskelijoita ja alumneja oli perustamassa 

Muurameen nuorten Leo klubia. Leo klubi on järjestyksessään toinen Keski-Suomessa. 

Lukion opiskelija Ilona Askolin on Lions järjestön 30. vaihto-opiskelija. Kuva : Martti Ronkainen. 

Suurkiitokset hedelmällisestä yhteistyöstä Muuramen lukion opiskelijoiden puolesta !

tiistai 8. syyskuuta 2020

Eduardo Andere new book : The Future of Schools and Teacher Education / How far Ahead is Finland ?

 Eduardo Andere book : The Future of Schools and Teacher Education / How Far Ahead is Finland ? 

Article and my interview in that marvellous book 

4.5 The Fifth School: Muuramen Lukio, Muurame, Finland[1]


 I visited this lukio twice, one in late 2016 and one on May 21, 2018. The latter visit to update the information from the first. Few things have changes, they are noted below.

 This is the only lukio or high school, in the municipality or Kunta of Muurame. Muurame is a relatively rich area since there are many companies located here, around 600. Actually, the kunta is an entrepreneurship oriented one. This is one of the reasons why this school is a special and different type of lukio. A small digression: When people in Finland, teachers and students alike, refer to yearly grades in high school, they don’t refer to them as grade 10, 11, or 12, but grades 1, 2 or 3. This is an informal practice since there are no formal or official grades in high school in Finland.

 Muuramen lukio was founded in 1996, so the school and the building are 22 years old. Well, the school is one year older, 1995. For one year, they were housed by the middle high school (lower secondary grades 7 to 9), which is next door. Today, both schools share facilities like science laboratories, arts and music classrooms, and a huge indoor gymnasium. The schools are located right next to the cultural community center. The two schools and the community center share the same library. This is often the case in some municipalities. There is a large municipal library nearby. This is often the case in many municipalities.

 This school is what one could call a “theme” school. It is an academically oriented school like all lukios, but some of the students go through an enterprise track and can take up to nine courses during their studies. Over the years, only two students have completed all 9 courses offered but quite a few have taken several courses. In the beginning the entrepreneurs from Muurame wanted a lukio, but not any lukio, they wanted a high school with an entrepreneurial orientation.

 How to do that? Well, the best way to teach entrepreneurship to students is by giving the students a hands-on experience about companies and company work. So, the school decided to establish a company with legal and tax status. After some years of design, decisions and paperwork, the company was born in 2003. Everything was done with the students: Paperwork, planning, logo design, naming and marketing. The name of the company is Työosuuskunta Kisälli (meaning something like: cooperative apprenticeship company).  The students do the employers’ work (in formality there is a legal board with the principal and 2 teachers and one former student who became an entrepreneur, and one teacher from a polytechnic university) and employees who do all the work. The adults monitor the company in the background.

 The students govern and run the company. In this way, they learn about the working and company life. They pay salaries and taxes, promote networking, contact suppliers and clients, in a safe environment. The company’s revenue after 15 years of operation has been around 220 000 Euros, 10, 000 to 30, 000 per year, or so. Last year, 2017 the company made 19, 000 euros.  The salaries go to the students. The company engages in all kinds of activities, and they relate to other companies to cast deals. There are six parent companies that work with the school and mentor the students.

 Students learn how to make contacts and how to make deals. They can do many things, for example: clean windows, dog sitting, baby-sitting, trash recollection, recycling, distribute gifts or products from companies, mowing the grass, websites to new companies, and many more.  They learn about work in real working conditions. The community would like them to be entrepreneurs if they want; and if they want they learn how to do it here. And this is good because Finland—as per the opinion of the rehtori—lacks entrepreneurs.

 The students also do course work about entrepreneurship. They learn about teamwork, project based learning, and individualized learning plans (“what I can do? What have I done earlier (hobbies)? And what can I do later with new learning?”). The principal said:

Only 20% of learning comes from the school; 80% comes from outside. In other times, the relationship was 30/70. Most of the learning comes from outside the school, such as, friends, home, networks and hobbies. We try to support the development of skills from outside the school.

 So, every starting class gets one godfather company to work with and learn from it. At the beginning of the school year somebody, possibly the owner of the company comes to the school and has various programs planned for the first-year students and the homeroom teachers. To help the transition a teacher goes to the company for a full day to get acquainted with the business as well as planning the upcoming events. For example, one of these companies manages a golf course, another a Spa resort, there is also the Red Cross, a local K-market store, a day-care center and a retirement home for the elderly. Students then engage in all sorts of activities, they can take care of children or elders, bake ginger bread before Christmas, sing or entertain, etc. Another company involved in the program makes lamps, so the students can make, design or sell lamps. The most recent companies are one that sports’ events, one the makes clothes owned by one women, and company that makes high quality instruments to measure things. Actually the owner of the latter company is a former student of our school.

 When the owner of the company comes to the school, she or he makes a narrative about their lives, and all first high school graders will hear the story. The school also promotes story-telling, orally or digitally, so that students get more involved. And the school also works within an entrepreneurship culture: teacher teams, sustainability, efficiency and recycling. The team work with teachers is crucial because the school is run under the principle of shared leadership. The principal said: “My task is to increase the leadership in all the members of the school community: teacher leadership, student leadership, staff leadership. When we do new programs, we try to promote those skills. When we do teacher training we stress on those skills. We support that teachers act more like “teacherpreneurs” developing their work and see possibilities around them. If they have certain skills on their own they are free to promote them and even sell them outside the school in their own projects.”

 According to the principal, there are 380 lukios in Finland and only 5 of them have received a certificate for sustainability. This lukio was the first one to obtain a certificate. The principal said:

Our focus nor, in 2018, for a three-year period, is 21st century skills: digital abilities, teamwork, internal leadership, critical thinking, entrepreneurial thinking. Our international project with Erasmus + (a European Union program) is called Future Makers with the Dutch people.

 To promote learning by doing, sustainability, teamwork, and leadership the school has a 1-day-1-night forest retreat camp. The school rents the tents from the army and Voluntary defense training program in Finland works in co-operation with the students and teachers alike in planning and implementing this camp that is referred to as Forest Camp. The students also learn from firemen how to put out a fire, and all kinds of other tasks. Each tent houses 14 to 16 students and one or two teachers, and each tent-group has a student leader. The teachers in each tent also follow the student leaders. That is how the school teaches leadership. The principal said:

They don’t learn to lead if they don’t lead. We teach and promote leadership in all aspects of the school: teacher leadership, student leadership, cooks’ leadership and workers’ leadership. How?  By giving them responsibility and trust. We rely on them. If we trust them they do their best. We also put them in situations when they face new challenges and problems. 

 The school has a motto: “Flexible learning community.” “Flexible?” Because the world changes so rapidly, the school has to change the scope. “Learning?” Because the learning happens all the time, the school facilitates learning all the time. “Community?” Because the school supports everyone, all the students get support. “We often use the word tribe, Muurame Lukio Tribe. Students, parents, teachers and stakeholders (companies, municipality, supporters) are members of this tribe. The families are our customers. If we do a good job in customer relationship with the families, they will want to come to us. According to my knowledge the best size tribe is 160 people. We are a little bit more (220 students) but still small enough to know all our students by name. Small is better than big, in this case”—the principal said.

 We are pioneers

 The school also has a focus on information and communications technologies, mainly with the use of tablets, virtual environments, flipped lessons, digital cameras, smartboards and virtual reality devices. They have grown over the years. The principal puts it like this: “We are pioneers”. All teachers have in their classrooms a laptop which is hooked to a digital camera that completely replaced the old overhead projectors, that now are museum pieces as one of the teachers told me. All classrooms also have smart-boards and LED projectors. By decision of the teachers and the principal, all the teachers sit in the right-hand corner in front of the classroom. The idea is to stress the fact that the students are at the center, that they are the stars.

 The principal expanded: “We have now in 2018, a virtual reality project which has interested other high schools in Finland, so the pioneering continues. The next step will be that we will apply money granted to us by the Finnish National Agency for Education (OPH) for an Artificial Intelligence project, networking with three more high schools.”

 There are a lot of hands-on activities but students still go to classes, sit for exams, do homework, and take at least 75 courses to finish the lukio studies, and then during their last year at the lukio they sit for the matriculation exams.

 The matriculation exam is an exit test that students have to take in Finnish and in at least three different subjects out of the following: English, Swedish, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, History, Social Studies, Biology, Geography, Health Education, Religion and the Sami language. One out of the languages or Mathematics must be Advanced level studies (A-level English is usually a subject for almost everybody) and some students take several A-level tests (A-level English, A-level Mathematics and A-level Swedish are possible in Muurame Senior High School). Students also choose more than the minimum four tests or subjects in total since taking and approving with high marks increases their entrance chances at the university and career of their choice. However, this could be controversial since most university programs put more emphasis on the success of entrance examinations[2].

 The principal added that “a big change will happen in 2020, when the universities, nationally get rid of the entrance exams. We are here worried because that means that the students will have to choose their career path when they are 15 years old ( at the end of grade 9). Some career options will be closed or more complicated to get in, if they don’t choose from the beginning in lukio the proper subjects, for example, A-level math, or languages in general. If students fail in matriculation exams, it will be more difficult to get to the university level.”

 Students have to learn their subjects but also cross curriculum or transversal abilities/competences, such as: Writing, communicating, economics, marketing, presentations, collaboration.

 According to the three students that I was able to interview:

Most of the time we do academic work, go to classes and study subjects because we want to pass the matriculation exams and go to university.

 The principal sums up everything:

 We are a normal lukio with an entrepreneurship twist, a sustainability focus and a technological environment based on mobiles, tablets and a good enough WiFi network.”

 Classroom Observations

 I observed two classes, one at the first year of studies (age 16) and one at the second year of studies (age 17). In both cases the teachers based the teaching around the LED projector and either the digital camera or the laptop. Both sessions were interactive; questions and answers back and forth with teachers, and both with the students’ desks and tables, arranged in a very traditional way. There were 27 students in the first class and 20 in the second one. Class size may vary from 10 to 30+ students. The average is around 22 students.

 I also observed the principal’s class with senior students: “Social studies”. Today’s topic: “Welfare system in Finland.” This time a small class of around 10 students, sitting in nice comfortable sofas making a semicircle facing the teacher and the screen. Again, and again all the students confirm that they have to study a lot, that they have a lot of homework, that they take classes and subjects and that they sit for exams at the end of lukio.

 But not all classrooms are arranged in a traditional way. I also observed a social and history classroom where the student tables and chairs were arranged by clusters. Teachers agreed:

There is no one way of teaching. Traditional or modern ways of arranging the physical learning environment inside the classroom can work very well.

 Then I interviewed two teachers with the pre-written questionnaire, but the answer of one teacher caught my attention because I had not received that answer in all my former rounds of interviews in Finland. The question was: “What is among all factors the main factor of success of Finnish school education?” Answer: “Non-authoritarian relationship with the students.”

 Muuramen school is the only lukio of this municipality. It has a student population of 223 students, taught by 20 teachers, one psychologist, one student counselor, one special education teacher, one social worker and one school nurse. The population of the municipality is 10,000.

 One more thing it is happening in the lukio is the School on the Move Project. This a national project designed and funded by OPH. So far 50 lukios have gotten into this project. Muurame lukio is one of the. So, you move? The principal said:

In double (90 minutes) lessons, the students have to stand up, do some exercise, walk through the corridors or go outside for a few minutes, and our student tutors promote games like basketball, floorball, football, or all kind of physical funny games. There is a group of students that get trained about the exercises and they lead other students into it. Last Fall, for example, we organized our school own Olympics, with groups of students representing different countries with country uniforms and national anthems.

 Interview with the principal: Aki Puustinen. Muuramen lukio

 What type of pedagogy does the school follow?

Entrepreneurial thinking, team working and project learning. We have a student-oriented system at the school, with many virtual reality devices, lots of company collaboration, and godfather companies. Every group has a godfather company.

 What are the three main differences in the new curriculum?

·         The new curriculum for lukio became effective this academic year (2016). The first important change is that schools should do phenomenon-based learning, but we have been doing that for 20 years. So, it is not a big change for us. Here the phenomenon is: Entrepreneurship. In sustainability studies we do mostly same things, based on phenomenon learning. Both areas cover many topics, like written, oral, creativity and presenting skills. They also connect with communities outside the school. They take classes with two teachers in these two subjects. One plus one is three, because teachers inspire each others

·         Learning in school should be connected to the life of the students. We also have been doing this for many years.

·         Big change: evaluation. Peer to peer, self-evaluation, observation and constant feedback to students. Section by section, during the six-week sessions and during the whole academic year. Each section lasts more or less six weeks. And maybe some kind of parents’ surveys.

·         Then, the local (kunta and school curriculum) within the framework of the national curriculum will also have some changes:

o   Phenomenon-based learning in entrepreneurship and sustainability studies.

o   Teaching leadership of all kinds (student, teacher, staff). We also collaborate a lot with companies.

o   Trust people, respect the teachers and the students.

 What is integrated learning?

Several ways: Two subjects in one course together. Several subjects in one theme, like the forest project:  How to build a forest camp with 200 students and 20 teachers?  Collaboration with the army, the firemen, other groups; communication with staff, students, radio, TV, written press; branding the school; marketing for the school and products. We have also tailor-made a course from two subjects: Biology and chemistry. This will help students to get skills and knowledge to apply for medical programs.  We are planning another integration course: Physics and ICT. In these integrated courses, we have two teachers teaching the class at the same time. Next year, in 2019, the subject will change to cybersecurity and social studies. The cybersecurity comes from the university mostly. The new curriculum forces the lukios to have some collaboration with the universities. In Artificial Intelligence we will collaborate with a military higher education center in Helsinki where they train officers for the Finnish military.

The entrepreneurship course takes two six-week long periods or sections in Autumn. Last year I gave a task of marketing the school to get more students to register. In Spring, we also run two six-week long courses and then can do different projects

Students still have to take 75 courses to graduate, so little change here. Students come at 8.30 in the morning and leave 5 minutes after 4 pm. Lessons last 45 minutes each, but some lessons last 90 minutes. There is the free lunch break for 55 minutes, and one or two 10 of five minutes’ breaks so they can change classrooms.

 What is among all factors the main factor of success in Finnish school education?


What is missing in schools in Finland?

More resources. Although in this school we have been allocated extra money to run the entrepreneurship program but we are always in need for more money especially now that the economy is tight in general in Finland. We always think there is lack of money, so we say, “do something” not only complain. Discover project, and if one has good ideas, the money will come.

 Final Comments

 Students and teachers have lunch in a big dining hall, they take shifts and share facilities with the middle school students. Students don’t pay for the lunch in this lukio (each municipality decide if the lukio or upper secondary students have free lunch), but teachers at the lukio pay. Teachers in some elementary or lower secondary schools may get lunch free if they supervise children during lunch time.

 During lunch we were joined by the mayor of the kunta. I have seen this in other municipalities. It is a sign of democracy but also that the distance of power in Finland between the boss and the subordinate is very small.


 On May 21, 2018

 Authorization: I have read and hereby approve the reference to me or the school or quotation, made by Prof. Eduardo Andere, in the Manuscript tentatively entitled: "Finnish education: Interactions, phenomena, contexts, and Policy." I understand that there might be some editorial or form changes that will probably be made to the manuscript before publishing. As long as they keep the main line of argument or narrative in the quotations, it is ok with me too.

Principal Aki Puustinen, Muuramen lukio       Teacher Merjo Hakkarainen

[1] On February 13, 2017, I received, by email, corrections from the principal Aki Puustinen and one of the teachers, Merjo Hakkarainen, I interviewed. The corrections were included. Updates were made on May 21, 2018, with the principal in his office at the lukio.

[2] Point raised by Elisa Heimovaara in an exchange of email communications on April 25, 2017.