American visitors seek cure for the crisis in teaching mathematics and natural sciences from Finland

A working group within the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (WWNFF) is currently on a study tour in Finland.

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The goal of the trip is to seek and find new methods to solve the problems in American education system. According to Marvin J. Suomi, a corporate manager and education specialist travelling with the working group, the pupils in American elementary schools have problems in even gaining the required literacy skills.

The members within the WWNFF working group are presidents and deans from American institutes of higher education as well as other education specialists. The Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture hosts the tour.

The working group visited the Kumpula Campus of the University of Helsinki as a guest of the Faculty of Science and the National LUMA Centre. The group was particularly interested in the pedagogical education of the Finnish teachers of mathematics and natural sciences. The difference between the Finnish and American teacher training is evident; the American teachers of mathematic subjects have usually not completed Master’s degree.

The Dean of the Faculty of Science, Keijo Hämäläinen, spoke for the visitors about the important contribution of LUMA activities in the recruitment of University students. Hämäläinen emphasised the role and position of the teachers within the science community. “It is important to integrate the teachers of mathematic subjects into the faculty’s science community.”

The role of the teacher is very important in increasing pupils’ motivation. “It is very difficult to evoke passion for science, but it is very easy to extinguish that passion.”

Professor Maija Aksela presented the functions of the National LUMA Centre, and discussed the current situation in pedagogical training of the teachers of mathematical subjects:

“The pedagogical training is constantly developed according to the present studies in the field of science education. In addition, LUMA Centre aims at keeping the professional knowledge of the already employed teachers up-to-date by offering education about the new strides in science.”

According to Aksela, the motivation of the teachers is the key to interesting and appealing education in mathematics and natural sciences.

The participants to the event held at Kumpula Campus also included representatives from the Ministry of Education and Culture, Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education, Trade Union of Education in Finland, and University of Jyväskylä’s Institute of Educational Leadership.

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Text: Veera Kallunki
Photo: VEero Roine

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