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Visions for the School of Tomorrow – Students´Perspectives How to Handle the Future?. Tuomo Lähdeniemi, MEd 1.3.2011 Liedon Vanhalinna. On Paper, Everything Seems Fine. But, 8.3 % of pupils at BE-level are in special education (2008, Statistics Finland)

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visions for the school of tomorrow students perspectives how to handle the future

Visions for the School of Tomorrow – Students´PerspectivesHow to Handle the Future?

Tuomo Lähdeniemi, MEd

1.3.2011 Liedon Vanhalinna

on paper everything seems fine
On Paper, Everything Seems Fine


  • 8.3 % of pupils at BE-level are in special education (2008, Statistics Finland)
    • During past 15 years the number has septupled
    • Inclusion highly problematic in practice
  • 8 % of the young (18-24 yrs) haven´t done any post-BE-exams
    • Appr. 20 % of 25-29 year old men without any exams after BE
  • 7.4 % (> 60 000) of children are child welfare clients (YLE, 2009)
    • The number has doupled during last three years
  • 16 000 children taken into custody by social welfare authorities (OKM)
  • Almost 35 % of youngsters suffer from sleep disorders (Kämppi et al, 2008, OPH)
we cannot change the past but we can forecast the future
We Cannot Change the Past, But We Can Forecast the Future

Some perspectives

Everyone is an expert when talking about school

Building up the school system is based on historical, political and cultural development

Making change takes decades, the results can be seen only afterwards

Operational environment is very complicated in many ways, causal connections are difficult to understand

Long-term commitment on the state and municipal level is a challenge; is there a coherent vision for the future school?

Nobody knows the future

observation filters
Observation Filters

"Implanting Strategic Management”by Igor Ansoff. Prentice Hall 1984ISBN 0-134-51808-X

Surveillance filter defines the area that we observe, e.g. our current situation, contacts and networks. The challenge is that discontinuities usually come from outside of our current mind set.

Mentality filter is formed of previous (success) experiences and we have a tendency to filter novel issues off, because they have not been important to us before.

Power filter prohibits people to express their ideas to those who possess more organizational power or power based on expertise.


How to Monitor Early Discontinuities?


Wisdom of Crowds

Filter Theory

Threshold of



Zone of

Signal strength





Zone of highest opportunity

and greatest risks

Brian Coffman (1997): Growth of signal in a noisy channel

challenge defining space of opportunity


Challenge: Defining Space of Opportunity

Change drivers

Application of Michael Raynor’s concept of Strategy Paradox (2007)


Building Commitment to Developing the School of Future

"Committing to change" (146-160) in Conner Daryl R., Managing at the Speed of Change; How resilient managers succeed and prosper where others fail. John Wiley & Sons 1992, 1998 ISBN 0-471-97494-3 Conner, Darryl R. & Patterson, Robert W. “Building Commitment to Organizational Change.” (18-30) Training and Development Journal 36, 4 (April 1982).






Requires personal reflection and sharing with others.




experts say the educational trends of the future
Experts Say – The Educational Trends of the Future

Electronic education via the Net will enable interconnected learning experiences, choices, and opportunities for billions worldwide

Educational content will be delivered by new computer, interactive TV, satellite, and Internet technologies

Interactive online multimedia and multidimensional content will revolutionize learning

Students and teachers will prefer on-demand virtual learning to traditional school programs

Virtual Reality scenarios that depict real-world and fantasy experiences will increase the learning impact for all types of education

Real-time Net chats with other global learners will make virtual education a satisfying social experience beyond the limits of time and distance

Institute for Global Futures 2009


Our Web-based Brainstorming Method

”What kind of knowledge and skills do you need now and in the future?”

”When you think about school, what comes to mind first?”

”Our school succeeds in...”

– Evaluation of thoughts

” How well does our school manage these aspects?

- Barometer

”How could we learn these even better?”

when you think about school what comes to mind first
When You Think About School, What Comes to Mind First?

4,0% (2328)

6,3% (3683)

7,4% (4319)

3,5% (2050)

12,2% (7094)

16,3% (9430)

7,5% (4375)

38,7% (22470)

3,9% (2275)

sense of hurry comes to mind the most when thinking about school
Sense of Hurry Comes to Mind the Most When Thinking about School

39 % of those surveyed chose this picture

(43 % of girls, 35 % of boys)

Pupils talk about their busyness in general, working after

school hours, and making it to class and the bus on time, etc.

Some associate sense of hurry and timetables with

school only,others with their life situation and hobbies, as well.

Work is something you’re supposed to do in school, but I feel some teachers are too demanding. I’m always busy. My teachers give too much homework, so there’s no free time.

… In school there are exact timetables, so the clock is an essential part of school…

I’m always stressed out about my assignments. I’m always in a hurry to get somewhere (work, hobbies, friends, events), and then there’s always school work waiting in the queue. I feel I don´t have enough time. Do I have to ditch something and decide what is important and what is not???

co operation and friendships
Co-operation and Friendships

16 % of those surveyed chose this picture

(18% of girls, 14% of boys)

Pupils talk about friendhips, social relations, and collaborating with others

Good spirit and good learning environment is also mentioned quite often

In school, we have good spirit and good possibilities for learning.

I chose this because here in school you get to meet new people, and you’re developing your social skills all the time.

Studying in comprehensive school is based on co-operation. When you get along with others, everything goes well.

Specially friends and good teachers create a positive learning environment.

School prepares us for the future – social relations are one of the most important aspects of that.

To me, this picture means tolerance. It´s not important how my friends look, as long as they are nice and friendly.


What does Comprehensive School Succeed in?

Language skills

Mathematical skills

Ability to read and write

Health and sports

Social skills

Expression skills

All-round education

Learning skills

Everyday skills

How well are these learned in our school?

Work skills

Concentration and motivation

International issues


Climate and environmental issues


OPH, 2010

Art and design

Dispersion of thoughts and ideas

evaluation of some subjects
Evaluation of Some Subjects

Voluntary languages


How well are these subjects learned in our school?








Dispersion of thought and ideas

issues arising from the pupil survey
Issues Arising from the Pupil Survey
  • While policy makers deal with how many hours each subject should be taught, the pupils want a well-balanced school life
    • Lack of connection between school and other aspects of pupils’ lives
      • Pupils get a profound learning experience when they can apply school learning in real life – there’s a huge need for practical learning and implementation
      • How to broaden the learning environment outside the classroom?
  • Pupils want to participate in developing the school life – content, methods, facilities, etc.
    • How to funnel this need in a constructive way?
  • Pupils use SOME and other technological solutions everyday – why do they have to ditch these in the classroom?
    • Teachers fail to recognice the possibilities furnished by the new learning technologies – from that perspective, our school is a sinking ship.
  • Pupils need acceptance, feedback and understanding maybe more than ever.
    • Pupils need caring and healthy contacts with adults they can trust
    • Face to face contact is always important
the critical challenges in teaching practice 2009
The Critical Challenges in Teaching Practice 2009

Mental well-being

Group size

Lack of time

Special teaching and pupils

Work space and buildings


Estimated criticalness

Pupils´ problems

Sufficiency of resources

Leadership and leaders





New technology


Extra work

Constant changes

N=1332, OAJ, 20009

Dispersion of thoughts and ideas

the critical challenges in teaching practice 2011
The Critical Challenges in Teaching Practice 2011

Increasing extra work

Special pupils

Learners of a different level

Group size


Difficulties in school-going

Lack of resources

Changes and renewals



Unwanted behaviour

Lack of appreciation



Community well-being




Work space

Teaching methods

N=2547, OAJ, 2011

issues arising from the teacher survey
Issues Arising from the Teacher Survey
  • How to let the teachers concentrate on teaching, coaching and raising the pupils?
    • Trivial extra work, administrative duties and spreading of child welfare issues into schools exhaust teachers´ motivation
  • Learning difficulties and other problems are well identified – what say the teachers?
    • Reasons? Integration? Inclusion? Special teaching in general? Clinics? Resources? Visions for the future?
    • Mental health problems among pupils are increasing rapidly, drugs are becoming a problem
      • How and when to intervene?
      • What is the school’s role?
    • What happens to a ”normal” pupil in the midst of all these challenges?
  • How to describe the reality of school life concretely enough for the public?
    • Appreciation of teachers work is decreasing – consequences can be radical
      • Recruitment, salaries, working conditions, serurity etc.
  • Leadership is one of the ticking time bombs in our schools
    • Principals don´t have enough time to stay omboard – administrative tasks take time
    • Dealing with matters is totally different from dealing with people
    • How to motivate principals to motivate teachers?
building the school of tomorrow what do we need
Building the School of Tomorrow – What Do We Need?
  • Deep and long-term dialogue between politicians, the authorities, teachers, scientists, business people, parents and pupils at the local, regional, national, and international level
  • Clarifying the vision: what REALLY is important for us in the future?
    • Those who complain about the expense don’t understand the meaning or the value of investing in our children
    • How to be environmentally responsable and how to raise environmentally responsable children?
    • It’s easy to find the change-makers - just look yourself at the mirror!
    • Talking is important, actions are essential.