Reclaimed – “Last Day of DETEF”

August 23, 2012 Off By JR

Really it is only the last ‘official’ day of DETEF. Today was one of the busiest days I have ever had in Helsinki, period. Let me begin with the morning. A few DETEF students were interested in touring the Crafts Teacher training facilities at the University of Helsinki. I have to say that this tour put what I have seen for crafts teacher training in Canada to shame. Crafts is a subject that students can major in at the UofH. The UofH has training facilities for Home Economics, and Textiles, leaving Woods and Metal to other universities (University of Eastern Finland for example).

We began our tour in the Home Economics part of the building which is divided into about five major parts, one for each year of study. As students progress through the rooms they gain access to more and more equipment and develop their skills in Home Economics through their entire program. Contrasting this with the University of Saskatchewan, the Home Economics education has only recently gained physcial space in the Education building and contains a few kitchens and tables for preparation and sewing. Students in this program at the UofS cover food studies, interior design, and sewing for two of their four years of study.

Going back to the UofH, after seeing the Home Economics rooms we entered the textiles rooms. Once again I was amazed by what I saw. Room after room with modern equipment for printing, sewing, textile work, and even a room full of looms! Again these students study this major through their entire program of study and based on what I saw in Finnish schools the schools and the university facilities are quite similar.

The main focus for our class today was to give our final presentations. These presentations were either about the journal questions assigned at the beginning of our course:

  1. What is research based teacher education?
  2. How could it be developed in my own country?
  3. My reflections on the future of teacher education.
If the presentation was not answering these three questions then we were to report on our progress on our own inquiry projects. I paired with an industrial engineering lecturer from South Africa and presented a simple model of instruction that would fully utilize the Engaging Learning Environment in Minerva, and could be applied in our respective countries. I followed this by presenting my efforts in creating an international professional learning community space for our class (twitter, facebook, wikispaces) and the successes/failures of each platform attempt (this project is still going, the DETEF course provided a good foundation for it).
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Other presentations ranged from direct comparisons between the Finnish education system to their own country, PISA, life long learning, post Google education, characteristics of the teacher of the future, music education, and much more.
After the presentations we debriefed, and watched a performance by a group from the drama department. This 20 minute presentation began as a light hearted dramatization of Finnish stereotypes (I am still unsure if it was satyrical or not, as we were presented with these stereotypes for about three weeks). Then the performance took a turn for the worse, dramatizing a detective looking for Finland’s “PISA secret”. This may have been an amusing (hopefully not informing) performance for politicians and laymen, but to a group of educators that has spent the past three weeks unwrapping the PISA question it was awful. Accounting for the audience was no where in sight. I do not think it was received well by our class.
When the class finally came to a close I headed over to Syystober, a food and beer event at the square next to the train station. There were so many food vendors there I can hardly name them all. There was great cheese, honey, fish, reindeer, sausage, breads, ice cream, you name it. All local and many unbelievably delicious! The beer tent was filled with local microbrewers, and you put a deposit on a glass, go buy some tasters (0.2L, 0.33L, 0.4L) and there was even a wash station for the glasses (of course so you would not contaminate your next beverage).
As 7pm approached, another Helsinki festival event began. Big concrete dominoes where placed through the city starting at the Design Museum and ending at Senate square. It was quite the sight, and drew thousands and thousands of people. Who ever said Helsinki is boring obviously spent their trip in their hotel room only.
Lastly, our farewell party at the club we had our welcome party at. A bitter sweetness filled the room as many new, great friends enjoyed their last moments together (until they meet again). I am amazed by the connections that developed in these short three weeks. Not only did we gain great friends in our own classes, but throughout the entire Helsinki Summer School. So I leave you with this…
to be continued…