Hyvinkää - Finland

Updated: Jul 12

Veera Toivonen - Vice Principal and French Teacher

Trust is the Silver Bullet

It’s 8.30 am, I am running to the copy machine and take the last papers for those students who have missed the exams last week…cursing the copy machine and the kids who don’t do their assignments on time. Of course it is not their fault, but you all know the feeling - you are running behind the schedule and getting papers from here and there for the morning lessons that starts in a few minutes time. No time to grab a coffee nor chilling in the teachers’ lounge. As I hurry to the classroom with my copies, books and papers I hear singing, music lesson has started an hour ago: Corridor is full of of unstable notes but steady voices: Fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars and let me see what spring is like…So simple yet complex enough to stop me to admire my working environment. Name one other occupation in the world where you can experience this every day if you want to? To see, to hear, to feel the people signing, drawing, painting, laughing, crying, playing, cooking, studying about genes, learning about medieval Paris or solve equations. How lucky we are to experience and testify all the possible shades and varieties of the society - daily. We know how families are doing, we see what’s hot and what’s not. We are on the pulse of our societies 24/7.

Trust is the silver bullet

In our school we tend to keep things simple. Focus is in the learning environment and in creating trust between students and teachers. The core is on the transformative skills,: Less forcing to learn all the patterns and rules by heart. Trust is the highway to learning and inner motivation. Don’t take me wrong - we do appreciate substance in all subjects, it’s the core of our curriculum as well. But learning a simple code or pure substance is not sustainable. Sustainable learning means that students learn not only the rules, events, orders, patterns or formats but they can and will(!) apply their knowledge and detailed information in practice. This practice is only rehearsed in a classroom full of trust - knowing the people you learn with.

Lessons are based on the transformative skills that are built on self-awareness, empathy and mental well being. Through different exercises we try to 1) Create new value – being innovative and creative, coming up with new solutions to help others; 2) Reconcile tensions and dilemmas – find the common ground between contradictory ideas, being able to think both short and long term consequences of actions, problem solving and finding solutions for conflicts; 3) Take responsibility - the ability to assess the outcomes of one's own actions. To see how experience and personal history affect our perspective and judgement.

Veera Toivonen, Vice Principal & French Teacher

Puolimatka School, Hyvinkää, Finland