Work life competences and Finnish upper secondary schools

In Finland, upper secondary schools are facing major challenges during the next few years because the matriculation examinations (final exams) will be conducted with computers instead of previous pen and paper. Upper secondary school teachers have used less digital technology in classrooms than teachers on primary and lower secondary schools, and their skills and competences need much improvement. There is a lot of talk about the change process for the digital matriculation exams, and not only enthusiastic!

However, the present change is also a possibility to revise teaching practices and focus somewhat differently on, e.g., students’ role or the learning goals, instead of emphasizing only “the content” as the focus of learning. The law about upper secondary schools says that schools should support students’ general competences so that they succeed later on in their further studies, in work life and in their hobbies. The problem is that currently these goals are not met, as several recent studies have shown.

We (the Finnish KNORK partners from the University of Helsinki) visited two Espoo upper secondary schools this autumn and we had nice discussions with teachers about the necessary future competences. Teachers had also in their own meetings recognized the need for new pedagogical practices which aim to foster students’ future general competences, so our suggestion for a collaborative workshop based on the ideas of trialogical learning (the background for KNORK) was quite well accepted. Therefore, later on during this autumn we will organize a workshop together with three upper secondary school and we will tell about the results in this blog.

Also other teacher groups have been interested in working life competences and pedagogies for promoting them. We have had two workshops with teachers in Varia vocational school, and I have given lectures to school principals and various teacher groups. All participants have given very positive feedback about the importance of the topic. However, changing the teaching practices is more difficult. So the models and guidelines which will be collected in KNORK are more than welcome!


Liisa Ilomäki

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