In Finland the teachers are trained at schools attached to the university and they are called "Normal" Schools. Over the past two days I've been spending time at the Joensuun Normaalikoulu, which literally means, "Joensuu Normal School."
Tell me if you think this looks like just "another ordinary day" at school.
Children in early primary school (grades 1-2) using saws and power drills to make boomerangs and miniature wooden hockey rinks - complete with plastic sticks for the children to use in play. (I love the orange nail polish.)
A library that is open and inviting and colorful - with a fireplace in the corner,
Fifth grade students working on building simulated bridges, hair dryers, washing machines, and rocket ships on classroom iPads, followed by building chairs with gigantic Lego-type sets. (Teacher: Sampo Forsström)
Paintings of the Finnish "twilight forest" where the students had to combine the colors to make their own brown for the trees.
I realized that my project on learning how Finnish teachers teach problem solving is much bigger, and more inspiring, than I had originally anticipated. I needed clarification.
"It seems like 'everything' teachers do with their students involves the children in problem solving," I said. "It's even in your art."
"I don't think we think about it," she said, "it's just the way we do things." (Merja Kukkonen )
The primary school and the university teacher training school are closely aligned. The primary school is on the right and the University of Eastern Finland teacher training school is the multi-storied building directly to the left. The training school for the secondary teachers is to the far left, just out of view.