Monday, June 3, 2013

Eight-Year Old Finnish Children with Power Tools

I can't imagine an America teacher giving an eight-year old child a power drill in school - maybe I'm sheltered and maybe I'm wrong - but I've never heard of it or seen it.  Please correct me if I'm wrong because I so desperately want to be wrong!

Here we are in crafts class, designed for 8-10 year old students.  Their teacher, Paavo Sivonen, like almost every other teacher I met in Finland, tries his best to incorporate problem solving into his lessons. In this lesson the children were learning how to work with plastic, wood, saws and electric drills. He told them a little about the tools, but not much - because what they needed to learn they would learn by doing the work themselves.  As they learned the tasks he set before them, he gave them another task; every child, at his or own speed, each with the same goal, but with different ways to get there.

In Paavo's words: "I think problem solving is the most important thing children have to learn in school. These skills of how to learn are much more important than geography or biology or history or whatever - if they know how to learn, they have the skills to learn anything."

"The atmosphere in the classroom should be that the children feel that everything is right with how they're learning," Paavo said.  "The teacher shouldn’t say, 'Don’t you do that! It’s wrong!'  That makes the children afraid and that blocks out their learning. I think (creating the right) atmosphere is very important (to the children's mental state)."

The crafts class is merely one way to get the children to learn how to use their minds. Paavo credits his approach to teaching in large part to Tim Gallwey, coach and author of The Inner Game of Tennis.

Well done, Paavo.  Your students adore you and you're doing wonderful work with your students.

(For Tim Gallwey's approach to learning and coaching,  CLICK HERE.)


  1. Ronn lead a Cub Scout pocket knife class when the boy was eight or nine. The kids did great. The parents were nervous nellies. I still have grey hairs. They carved little boats out of soap. The only casualty was Ronn who managed to cut himself. Then we worked on first aid. :-)

    I'm sorry kids here don't have this kind of opportunity. Not just power tools, we don't even have craft classes.

  2. I'm a little worried that all this focus no problem solving makes them forget the other goal of schooling: providing basic information.
    All the problem solving skills in the world won't help you if you don't have foundation of basic knowledge to build on. GIGO.

  3. GIGO;
    Thank you for your comment. Fortunately, the Finns do a very thorough job at teaching the basics as well as problem solving. (I was searching for evidence of problem solving so that's what I focused on in my writings.)

  4. Great impact for improving child skills and ability.