U.P. educators to study Finnish education system

On Monday, educators from around the Upper Peninsula will arrive in Helsinki, Finland to begin an examination of the Finnish education system.

They will visit several schools and look at how and when educations diversify based on the path a student plans to take.

“Well, I would like to have an understanding of the general system of education,” Kristiina Vanhala, a 4th grade teacher with Baraga Area Schools, said, “but because Finland and the United States are very different countries I am looking to, first of all, make some professional contacts and also to look for some strategies and ideas that they are using in the classrooms there that we can implement in our classrooms and in our schools here. I’m really looking forward to sharing that with my school and with teachers in the local area in general.”

The program, hosted by Finlandia University, was born from Finnfest 2013 when U P educators were encouraged to study the book ‘Finnish Lessons’ by Pasi Sahlberg.

Sahlberg said, “The teaching profession in Finland has always been popular and this is what I hear in many other countries, that teaching used to be a very popular profession among young people. I think a good question is that how Finland has been able to maintain teaching in the school as something that attracts young people.”

And the trip was made possible by donations to the university, allowing educators to get an up close and personal look at the world’s third best education system.

Sarah Kemppainen, of Marquette Area Public Schools, said, “So we will be present with teachers, in classrooms in Finland, building relationships, teacher to teacher and practitioner to practitioner. We also have an opportunity to meet university level professors and have conversations with them and our hope is to build a bridge – we’re called Feet to Finland – and our hope is to build a bridge between Finnish educators and primarily U.P. educators. This is something we hope to grow, not only at Finlandia, but also in my home school district: the Marquette Area Public Schools.”

Finland was considered number one in world education not too long ago, but a recent study has found Japan now holds the top spot. And for the record, the United States ranks 18th, just behind Estonia.