The 12th 4-day convention of the International Confederation of Principals (ICP) was rounded off with ceaseless applause on 6th August. The delegation of Chinese principals left Helsinki, City of Design in the world, with Finland-China Education Associaiton (FICEA) for Tampere which is the third biggest city in Finland, one of the world’s most livable cities as well as the headquarter of FICEA.
First Experience in Tampere
Chinese principal and teacher representatives were invited to the official reception dinner co-hosted by the local city council and FICEA. The deputy mayor Leena Kostiainen gave a warm welcome to the representatives on behalf of the City Council of Tampere. The most representative of primary and secondary school headmasters in Tampere were invited to the dinner as well.
The deputy mayor pointed out in the speech that China is very important international strategic partnership of Finland whether in politics, economy, culture or education in the whole world. Especially since 2008 Tampere established a friendly relationship as sister cities with Guangzhou, the cooperation and exchanges in various fields and industries between the two cities have become deeper, wider, higher and more frequent in diversified forms. This not only created more favorable conditions but also drew a more beautiful picture for promoting China and Finland to build up stable long-term comprehensive cooperative partnership. Kostiainen, the deputy mayor, explained that culture and education are the origin of development for a country, which is different with other industries. It is more significant with a far-reaching impact when they are inherited and developed in the nation, spread and exchange within the world. Therefore, as the friendship messenger who aim to promote further education and culture exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in the future, the principals and teachers from China and Finland have a long and arduous task to fulfill.
Moreover, the deputy mayor Kostiainen also appreciated sincerely and praised highly the effort that FICEA had made on the educational exchange and communication between China-Finland leaders of primary and secondary school this time.
Then the principal representatives from the two countries gave each other gifts at the dinner, expressed good wills and exchanged the ideas on the future cooperation of primary and secondary schools between China and Finland. The executive director of FICEA, the mayor of Sastamala Mr. Jari Andersson, the secretary-general of FICEA Mr. Li Dong, the executive vice-presidents Mr. Pekka Pellinen and Ms. Mariliina Kurkinen attended the dinner as well.
Thinking about Education Together
Chinese principals training program formally kicked off in the headquarters of FICEA on 7th August. Finnish principals and famous educators in Finland delivered wonderful speeches and had deeper discussions on “China-Finland Education Reforms and Development of Future Schools”, “Development of Learning Environments and Education Technology” and “Improvement of Education Management and School Leadership”, the three main topics of China-Finland Principals Forum. In the beginning of the meeting, the mayor of Sastamala, the executive director of FICEA and the principal of Sylvää Mr. Jari Andersson gave a warm welcome to the Chinese principals and teachers coming from afar in the name of FICEA as well as an introduction on humanity and society of Tampere and Finland. His humorous words gingered up the meeting. Then Mr. Andersson showed advantages and uniqueness of Finland education management to the Chinese principals and teachers around the three teaching ideas “education system and curriculum reform”, “teacher selection system” and “learning by doing”.
The principal of Comprehensive School in Ylöjärven, Ms. Satu Sepänniitty-Valkama shared the practical experiences on how to view and analysis school administration from in a principal’s perspective on the basis of her own experience.
The principal of Vaskivuori High School in Vantaa which is characterized by music, media and dancing, Ms. Eira Kasper introduced emphatically the educational system and curriculum structure design of schools in Vantaa, displayed vividly the human-based teaching idea that the Finnish schools hold all the time --“orient children, protect students’ nature, respect students’ individuality”. The Chinese teachers in the meeting were all impressed. They supposed that this must be one of the secrets making Finnish education into “World First”. It is worth Chinese educators’ study and thinking.
At the end of the training, the secretary-general and senior education advisor of FICEA Mr. Li Dong made an important speech titled “The Advantages and Features of Finnish Education”. He pointed out in particular that the success of “Finnish education leads global education direction” lied in “innovation of learning environments”, “innovation of learning styles” and “innovation of student support system”; lied in the strong activeness and discourse that principals and teachers of local schools had. The principals and teachers of local schools devoted themselves to the tight junction of curriculum reform and future global citizen cultivation, which resulted in the progressiveness and distinctiveness – “the least class hours, the most achievements, the high efficiency” of Finnish education in comparison with other countries. During the whole speech, the Chinese principals and teachers listened intently, took part in interaction actively, and started a heated discussion on hot issues on education of China and Finland.
Aspects of School
In order to understand Finnish school environments and teaching system deeply and directly, the Chinese principals and teachers were arranged particularly by FICEA to visit an art specialty high school in Tampere for research. The school’s principal Hännikäinen received them warmly, introduced the school’s development history, teaching environment and curriculum system in detail. Then the Chinese principals and teachers visited the wood work and handcraft laboratory and art design studio, had a friendly interaction with Finnish youthful high school students. The teachers experienced the distinctive special school life of Finland without a distance.
The delegation of Chinese principals and teachers visited another high school in Tampere which is specialized in physical and media classes. The whole campus was filled with an atmosphere of arts. It happened to be the first day of school. The Chinese principals were invited to join in some classes, such as English, Mathematics, visual arts and so on. They were impressed with the joyful relaxing learning environment and equal harmonious relations between teachers and students in the classroom. Especially in an English class in Grade 12, the Chinese principals and the students returning to school on the first day were both attracted immediately by the teacher’s infectious words and exaggerated but vivid body language. In the beginning of this semester, the English teacher had made a list of one-year reading materials of English for the students according to the school entrance criterion in the future and development targets of students. A number of fields and topics were involved in the list in order to improve students’ autonomic learning ability, encourage them to develop creative thinking, promote all round development of individuality.
After saying “good-bye” to beautiful Tampere, the Chinese visitors continued north till the worldwide famous Santa’s home – Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland. The scenery along the way from the south to the north was so distinctive and novelty. The Chinese principals and teachers were deeply attracted by this country which is full of mystery and surprises people every moment.
This is the third stop of the principals training. The Chinese principals and teachers were invited to visit Teacher Training School of University of Lapland. The chairman of the Rovaniemi City Council and Congressman Mr. Heikki Autto, the director of Educational Bureau Ms. Laura and the principal of Teacher Training School Mr. Heikki Ervast, showed up and gave a warm welcome to the Chinese visitors on behalf of City Council and the school in the meeting. They delivered the wonderful speeches about general information of Rovaniemi and school education and teaching system in the city. After the visiting, the Chinese principals and teachers with a very deep feeling started a heated discussion on the topics of education system and school curriculum design in Rovaniemi on the basis of the training lectures they had taken before.
Sharing the Future by Talking
Our Chinese principals and teachers experienced all the way from the south to the north, from Helsinki bordering the Baltic to Rovaniemi across the Arctic Circle. The different local customs and practices, good ecological environment, advanced educational system, unique teaching ideas, all of these in Finland brought us so many thoughts and feelings. In the Arctic camp 1 of FICEA, deputy to the National People’s Congress and headmaster of Xiejiawan Primary School in Jiulongpo of Chongqing Ms. Liu Xiya, the vice-director of Division for Cooperation in Basic Education. BNU Mr. Liu Zengli, the dean of New Education Research Institute and Xiangyu Education Group Mr. Lu Zhiwen, the principal of Verakin High School of Chongqing Mr. Zhuo Zhongchi, the dean of School of Professional Development and Research on Primary and Secondary Education Ms. Wang Hong, all addressed the sharing meeting.
Three points were included in the speech that deputy to the National People’s Congress and headmaster of Xiejiawan Primary School in Jiulongpo of Chongqing Ms. Liu Xiya shared. Firstly, she supposed that there was a deep inherent relation between education and development of children and social phenomenon in one country. Education ideas and practice could be understood and analyzed through social phenomenon of this country. The advanced education ideas and practice and outstanding education achievements of Finland have been felt directly via some social phenomenon including the respect that children received from family, school and public places, the strong sense of being and happiness that Finnish children glowed with.
Secondly, Finland treated, respected and cared children from an angle of equality no matter in social public life or school education in comparison with Singapore which is same as a small country but educated children from a look-down point of view. That Finnish educators protected children’s nature and respected their individualities was worth thinking and learning by each Chinese educator. Meanwhile, she hoped that the Chinese principals and teachers present would take what they had learned and understood on this trip back to China, make the most of their social influence pass on this spirit, develop a high interactivity among three parties which would be between campus and off, teachers and students, education and society.
Finally, Principal Liu said that she had confronted with a lot of challenges and confusion even though the education ideas she had held and many educational practices she had done in China for a long time correspond highly to Finland. By the on-the-spot investigation on the schools in Finland, she more believed that the education ideas she had been holding were reasonable and correct. This showed her a direction to develop more abundant educational practices in the future. She was very confident of future education cause of China, believed all efforts that Chinese educators had made and be making would lead to achievements and a brighter future as long as they work hard on education and carry out curriculum reform practically in a right and reasonable direction.
At the end of the principals training of FICEA, the Chinese principals brainstormed in the beautiful Arctic Camp 2 of FICEA. They shared together what they had learned and felt from this journey of secret exploration on Finnish education in three perspectives “how to enhance school leadership”, “how to develop characteristic schools” and “how to cultivate creative teachers”.
In spite of coming from different cities and schools, in this summer our Chinese principals and teachers gathered in Finland – a paradise of education, walked on the secret exploration road of Finnish education in company with the same zeal and enthusiasm for the educational cause of the motherland, the same care and responsibility on children. We always believe that what belongs to the nation belongs to the world. With all our educators’ efforts and supports of the public, Chinese education reform will reach an unprecedented peak in the coming future, our children can grow up healthily and happily in a better environment and march towards the world arena as bold strong self-reliant Chinese! The principals training program of China-Finland Principals Forum is at an end for the time being, but the exploration that Chinese educators carry on world education secrets is endlessness and we are determined to develop and pass on our national education. Let’s look forward to getting together and talking about education and future again with a better look some day!