Two French teachers from Pontarcher Vocational School in Vesoul, FRANCE → in Turku Vocational Institute in Turku, FINLAND (December 2018)
On Monday 3rd December 2018 we left for Turku, Finland to visit the Turku Vocational Institute (TAI). We had booked our accommodation on board the BORE ship, a former ferry boat transformed into a hotel run by the TAI students. Later on, we had the opportunity to visit the small museum on board and to speak with the students and the professionals who supervise and advise them. This is one of the many examples of the Finnish students’ full integration in the working world.
On the first day we met Mrs Pia Ruoho, the international contact teacher in the Lemminkäinencampus (TAI has two different sites). She showed us around, explained the organisation of the studies in cooking and restaurant services and gave us the opportunity to speak with students who detailed their early experience and work background, which is taken in account in their teaching programme.We were quite surprised to learn how personalised the Finnish students’ curriculum is.
In the Lemminkäinencampus the school kitchens and teaching rooms occupy the ground floor of a big building where many businesses and offices are also located and as a result, TAI students, with the help of professionals, run the cafeteria-restaurant in real-life conditions. We had lunch with Mrs Pia Ruoho and Mrs Maria Hokkanen, the coordinator of international affairs who had made all the arrangements for our stay. It was anopportunity for us to exchange knowledge on the two different schoolsystems.
Then we visited TheWisio Entrepreneurship Centre, which was a fascinating experience for us. Here, the students offer the Turku people all types of services, such as making calling cards, fixing clothes, or changing tyreswhich gives them interesting learning opportunities in close connection with working life. For Christmas time, in a sort of trade fair,the students were allowed to develop their own projects (goods or services) under the close guidance of trained professionalsand sell them to the public.They can even keep the profit if they put their own money into the project!
In the Aninkainencampus, we had breakfast with Maria Hokkanen and had a tour of the facilities.We saw the different kitchens and workshops,as well as the students working independently. There was no noise or students running in the corridors… Everybody was getting on with their own work in a quiet manner. We met teachers in their own offices and we found out that their working conditions are much better than ours! We had a great time speaking with our Finnish colleagues about the different teaching approaches and the teachers’ careers. Then we had a great lunch in the teaching restaurantwhere we started looking for some form of possible collaboration between our two schools.The teaching restaurant is open to everybody and so is the school shop where Turku people can buy treats for every occasion and ready-to-eat meals prepared by the students.We did many other things such as visiting the city and talking to people in restaurants.
To conclude, we would like to tell you how delighted we were by our visit to Finland. We met very nice people,with a special mention going to Maria Hokkanen who received us so warmly,and we learned a lot about the Finnish school system.We were really interested in the personalisation of the students’training and their learning opportunities in such close connection with working life. We are now working on collaboration, a visit of Finnish teachers and an exchange of students later on.