From group work to team work

Finland, the cradle of the future of education. The country that clocks in top scores on PISA studies year after year, and where governments turn their heads to look for answers in problems with their school systems. A country where the lessons in school are separated by mandatory recesses of playtime and studying is free of charge all the way to the highest levels.

That’s how the rest of the world sees us. We Finns hardly agree, as we rather see the problems in our systems. Our high level of education has lead us to being a country of researchers and engineers, who love to criticize and point out all the faults of our system and to try and fix them. We love complaining and picking on the little things we find annoying or faulty.

team work

Watch out, team work ahead!

This, in its own strange way, leads to constant development. As a problem is pointed out, someone will sooner or later come out with a solution. One of the most common problems every Finn that has studied on a level higher than mandatory can relate to, is the one of group work. In the Finnish school system, students are often engaged in the learning process by giving them tasks to complete in predetermined small groups. These small groups usually consist of students wanting to complete the common task, but in almost every group there is at least one freeloader that is just trying to fiddle his or her way out of all the work needed to achieve the common goal. The ignorance and laziness of these individuals takes away the focus of the group from the task at hand.

We Finns have fortunately devised a solution for this problem we ourselves have created. This solution is called the principle of team learning, which is taught in the Team Academies around Finland. In the model of team learning, a group is not given instructions on how to complete the task but instead the individuals are trusted with the shared responsibility of achieving their common goal. When given a responsibility of a set part of the job, even the slackers quickly pick up an interest in the task at hand. They need to study and research their given section and then share their findings to the rest of the group. The best part? They think the idea to put some effort into their studies was theirs.

– Hermanni Ahtiainen, student at Proakatemia

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