Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Woodwork class at Meilahden ala-aste

Best example of how independent kids can be in Finnish schools. The third graders have just started their woodwork classes and making pencil holders. They ran through some safety lessons and training before. What I saw was that each student was competent to handle potentially dangerous machines like drillers on their own with little supervision, though the teacher does keep an eye on them.

Tero, Vice principal of the school and one of the woodwork teachers, said the approach was to explain the objective, give a demonstration once, show the students a model of finished product, and asked how they were going to do it. He left them with a lot of freedom about how they wanted to make a pencil holder, or a clothes hanger.

Another observation was the kids had their own learning pace. Some kids who finished the pencil holder earlier went on to the clothes hangers, and seemed totally in control of what they were doing.

These are the works of the students:

They cleaned up themselves after the lesson, in a very swift and organised manner. A Chinese boy even asked me to help him by holding the rubbish tray for him to sweep the rubbish onto it.

Woodwork is one of the compulsory subjects for primary students from Grades 3 to 6, as well as secondary student in Grade 7. This forms a key part of training for Finns who are very good at DIY, girls included.

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