The whole city is a learning environment!
In Helsinki, we want to emphasise that the entire city is a learning environment – in fact, the learning environment expands beyond the city’s physical limits when digitalism and virtual reality are added in.
The threshold for moving outside the classroom is low since school groups can use public transport free of charge.
Tommi Tiittala, pedagogics expert for the City of Helsinki, states that the City encourages students to move about. And why not: Helsinki offers a wide variety of sights and experiences during the school day.
During the events of Helsinki Education Week, you can see for yourself how classrooms can be expanded.
Kati Immeli-Vänskä, upper-stage geography, home economics and biology teacher at Pitäjänmäki comprehensive school, sheds light on this topic before the events start. When she lists each excursion her student groups have gone on recently, the list is quite long.
When learning about natural environments, they have visited places such as the Helsinki Central Park, Viikki and the nature school on the island of Harakka – and the surroundings of their own school, of course. They have also learned about maritime and cultural environments in places such as Suomenlinna
and visited various locations and events in the city centre, as well as the Helsinki Baltic Herring Market and the showroom for urban planning.
Their learning environments have also included the Viikki water treatment plant and the Ämmässuo waste processing plant.
When their studies have focused on urban planning, students have visited new residential areas, such as Kalasatama. The architecture from various time periods comes to life when you see it with your own eyes.
“Helsinki and the Metropolitan Area as a whole are the perfect environment for teaching and learning. There are so many possibilities!”
Sometimes, a double-period class is too short, even with the breaks included. In these cases, Immeli-Vänskä asks the teacher of the next class for permission to be twenty or so minutes late. Flexibility has worked out well for the school.
Immeli-Vänskä says that students have been pleased with varying school days. But the excursions are about much more than variation. Learning about a diverse array of locations inspires good discussions about multidisciplinary themes.
For example, the groups learned about Helsinki in the time of the tsars with a game designed for learning. Later, the students had lively and active discussions about the subject in front of the House of the Estates.
“Everything is based on learning. Students learn more deeply when they have enough time to acquaint themselves with different topics. It also helps them remember things better.”
You are invited to dozens of schools
During Helsinki Education Week, various public spaces will be reserved for schools to use them. The programme includes many workshops and student performances.
Tommi Tiittala says that schools are always open to visitors, but that during Helsinki Education Week, dozens of schools are particularly hoping for and inviting visitors.
Immeli-Vänskä hopes that, in addition to education professionals, other visitors will be able to visit schools during Helsinki Education Week to hear more about learning and the City’s focuses today.
Visitors will also see how having the entire city as a learning environment adds to learning.