A GERMAN-FINNISH SCHOOL PROJECT AND SOME DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE GERMAN CARL-FUHLROTT-GYMNASIUM AND THE FINNISH LAAJASALO YLÄASTE

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1 A GERMAN-FINNISH SCHOOL PROJECT AND SOME DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE GERMAN CARL-FUHLROTT-GYMNASIUM AND THE FINNISH LAAJASALO YLÄASTE By Mr. Mikko Hakala IDENTITY PROJECT Laajasalo yläaste and the Carl-Fuhlrott-Gymnasium had a great chance to accomplish an identity project. The project was about the history and the identities of our nations. German and Finnish pupils were privileged to work with the project and in the end to visit the German school and counterparts. The project had different stages, and our cooperation got deeper after each stage. I don t explain those stages in this report closer because this report is supposed to deal with a general view of the project. During the project the pupils noticed mainly two things about history. First they noticed that history has a great power on our thinking and identities. The second thing the pupils noticed was that because of the history the identities between Germans and Finns are very different. History has at least a great impact on that. Mr. Ulrich Grote said during this project: The Finns are historical winners and the Germans are historical losers. It was noticeable that the Finnish pupils are very proud of their country and their nationality. The German pupils are quite the opposite 1. For the Finnish pupils it was very hard to understand that although the Germans live in such a great country, the German pupils were still very moderate about it. 1 I feel necessary to stress that there isn t one German thinking like Finns sometimes tend to think. There are some Finnish differences in thinking too, but those are not as big as in Germany. Germany is a large country with many different areas. Germans also think in different parts of the country in surprisingly different ways. That s partly because Germany has approximately 82 million inhabitants. The country also contains so many different cultural areas, which are by distance quite close to each other. Maybe the biggest difference in thinking is between east and west. Former east-germans didn t receive the same kind of education about the holocaust like people in West-Germany. In East-Germany there was taught that people in DDR are so called liberated liberators. There was also taught that fascists live in West-Germany. Many Germans in the eastern parts of the country haven t received much information about the massive war crimes, which were committed by many Germans in the Second World War. Today s German right extremists are located mainly in the eastern parts of the country. There are many reasons for that, but many east-germans have never felt the huge emotions of guilt like people in the western areas.

2 Germans have still a historical trauma, which affects German political decisions and attitudes. It is very important that both nations are working out their own history. That s because history isn t actually just linear time. Past isn t just past. The past lives around us, whether we want it or not. There are nations, who haven t really dealt with their past. That is quite dangerous because historical problems have the bad habit of suddenly showing up later for example when there occur some conditional changes. Yugoslavia is quite a good example for this problem. When Tito (Josip Broz) died in 1980 and the cold war ended ten years later, there was a time to go back to the historical times. Different ethnic groups in Yugoslavia started to rewrite their own history. They all had a strong need to identify themselves with the past. That is because Tito s policy in Yugoslavia was to prevent all the discussions about the Second World War and other historically painful national experiences. In the year 1991 different ethnic groups started the war against each other again. There was no peaceful solution partly because different ethnic groups never made a real peace because they were not allowed to even talk about it. Because of the taboo, it was also later easy to use history as an extreme nationalist political weapon by the nationalist politicians of the different ethnic groups. That s mainly because people didn t have a real knowledge and experience about their history and identity. That is why this kind of historical project in which pupils really think about their own identities, and are able to compare it to other identities is very important. Through the comparison they broaden their horizon and their range of reflection. These kinds of projects balance the political conditions of Europe on their behalf. Because of the project our pupils really saw in practice how much history has an influence on people. The project also contributed to the understanding between our nations. Because of the project many stereotypes have been wiped away on both sides. When the German and Finnish pupils met each other, they noticed that they are quite alike. At the end of the visit in Wuppertal the pupils talked about what they had thought before they came and what they thought then. There was a difference. For both sides the visit was a positive experience, and they noticed how well they could actually get along. We have to build European cooperation together. We can t really work together in the European Union, if we don t understand each other or only have a slight idea of other

3 European nations. Some unpleasant stereotypes are in many occasions wrong, and because of this project the pupils were able to diminish their own stereotypes 2. At the same time our pupils had a chance to improve their language skills in practice and to deepen their political and social understanding by using history as a method. This project helped the whole work of European Union and improved international understanding and cooperation on its behalf. PISA Our visit to the Carl-Fuhlrott-Gymnasium appeared to be quite interesting to the German counterparts. Mrs. Nissinen and Mr. Hakala as the Finnish teachers and the Finnish pupil group received a tremendous hospitality from the German hosts. I have to give a special thank to the leadership of the school, and to the main organiser of the whole project, Mr. Grote. The German staff of the Carl-Fuhlrott Gymnasium showed a special interest in us (the Finnish teachers) partly because of the Pisa-research. The main differences between German and Finnish schooling organisations are located in the system. The atmosphere in the classes is actually surprisingly alike. The relationship between pupils and teachers according to the experiences of this visit are just as close in Finland as in Germany. Those matters of course are up to the teacher, but from my insight I would claim so. German style of teaching is very communicative like in Finland. German teachers discuss with the pupils of the matters in the class, too. At least in the Carl-Fuhlrott-Gymnasium many projects were made by the pupils just like in Finland. But that is naturally up to the teacher too. 2 I d like to stress in this footnote one stereotype about Germans, which sort of lives in many countries by some people. The international media uses history a lot in their work. Media (for example programmes and newspapers) have to be able to sell. The other problem is that the stories have to be done very fast. Some people in Europe think that Germans are racist because of their history. So if a newspaper has to sell and write a story about right extremists in Europe it is often done about German right extremists. That s because a Norwegian nazi is a joke for many people. People in Europe are a bit scared of Germans because of their history and are interested in German nazis. If in Germany happens something nasty like Jews get killed violently, the international press is very interested in it and tells usually that it was a hate crime even before the police research. Afterwards the international press doesn t bother to tell if the crime was committed for example by the Russian mafia as it once happened. Because of the history and media some people have strong stereotypes about German racism. Recent studies have indicated that Finns are on average much more racist in their attitudes than Germans. Finns on their behalf have a slightly bad reputation because of their drinking habits. I have heard some Germans saying that some Finns are always drunk. That s because some Finns use alcohol sometimes quite a lot in a certain time like on Saturday evenings. Recent studies point out that Germans on average drink more alcohol per year/per person than Finns do.

4 Germans did quite bad in the Pisa-research, but of course such researches don t give us the whole truth. Even if the research was as accurate as possible, there are some critical points of view. Different kinds of researches can guide us and show the directions, but they are not absolutely true. Germany is a main economic country in Europe. That wealth has required a good education system. In German schools there are also many pupils, who have a foreign background, different from Finland for example. Many of those pupils have problems with tasks, which acquire a good knowledge of the mother tongue. The problem is that many foreign background Germans don t have good skills with any language. The German language is used by them so little that it doesn t offer a good success in tests like Pisa, which demands language skills even with the tasks of mathematics. Because of such difficulties the average result of the German pupils was lower than it would have been under different conditions. In Finland the teaching generally bases on practical teaching. It doesn t mean that it is necessarily easier. It means that Finnish teaching stresses different points of view. In Finnish schools like in Laajasalo yläaste (and lukio) the different theories in many subjects are not so much emphasized and taught. For example in history the teaching points out logical conclusions of the events. It also stresses some theories, but not as much as in Germany. The examples in teaching are taken rather from the practical life than from some theories. It is the same thing in mathematics. In Finland the mathematical tasks are close to praxis. The texts of the tasks are from real life. In the Finnish schooling system the teachers try to make sure that as many pupils as possible understand as much as possible like in Germany too. But it is widely believed in Finland that easy examples in the end enable the pupils to understand difficult theories and tasks. It doesn t matter if it is geography or mathematics which are concerned. The tasks of the Pisa-research were close to practice. Finns succeeded well in those tasks, which had something to do with real life and Germans didn t so well. In Finland about 50 % of the pupils are accepted to Gymnasium - lukio stage. The pupils decide when they become 15-years-old to which school they want to apply. In Germany the decision is made quite early. That is not necessarily good for some boys because many boys develop at a later age than the girls, and would later be good students. They just don t necessarily get the second chance, which would be necessary for them. Even if the German separation system concerning the school types (3-tier-system) is good and accurate, there is a chance that German society loses some valuable resources. Of course the matter has two

5 sides. Sometimes it doesn t benefit to drag on with those pupils on a higher level of education, who are not enough talented for that and who are not enough motivated. Some people are naturally motivated for a different kind of education than just for the education, which aims to develop groundwork for university level studies. In Finland the quality differences in the same school levels are very small. In Finland there is only a weak separation into good and weaker schools. In the Helsinki area there is some competition, but it is not significant compared to many other countries like Germany. It is possible that in Germany some subjects are taught in a deeper way than in Finland. It at least seemed to be that way during our visit. In the German Carl-Fuhlrott-Gymnasium the pupils have less subjects than in the Finnish Laajasalon yläaste (or lukio). In the whole Finnish schooling system the pupils get a wider picture of different kinds of subjects than in Germany. Finnish pupils can possibly create a better ground work for the future studies, if a wide picture of sciences is concerned. Many German pupils have probably a deeper knowledge of some subjects, and that s good for the knowledge level. In Finland the policy is that people have enough time to deepen their knowledge in their future studies. The Finnish way of thinking is to give as wide education for as many as possible, and such a general education is a good preparation for later studies. In the German schooling system those pupils, who do not succeed at school so well fall through the net more easily than in Finland. For example it is possible that many foreign pupils don t get the necessary help, which would be required in order to make the foreign children succeed in the future. Of course because of the great amount of foreigners in Germany the resources required for that are greater than in the Finnish schooling system. Today the so called foreigners would need a proper education to develop the German economic area on their behalf. The necessary help would mean efficient language training and other supporting measures in order to prevent them dropping from out of the educational system. For example in the school of Laajasalo yläaste some of those pupils, who are about to be forced to retake a class are offered a five days camp school on one island. Many of those pupils don t speak Finnish as a mother tongue. Some chosen teachers will be teaching the weaker pupils during those five days. The teaching is quite intensive and the pupils learn some other things too like responsibility. That is because the pupils have to wash their own dishes and do the cleaning and so on. In Finland the whole nation s education is quite good.

6 According to the system no one is left behind because the system fights against people dropping out from the society. Of course some people drop out in Finland, too, but not in so huge numbers as in many countries in Europe. In the Finnish system the cooperation between different subjects is quite close. Different subject teachers have common projects. For example geography and history can be combined in some courses. That means many different subjects are integrated. The aim in that is to offer the pupils a chance to create a wider understanding of the scientific world. It shows the pupils, how different subjects work in the whole entity. In the real world of employment many different skills are needed, and sometimes it is not enough if people understand only their own subject and science. In Finland there are also more subjects, which the pupils are able to choose, than in Germany. The aim is the same again: To give the pupils a wide understanding of the scientific world. The German system is probably better for those pupils, who are really talented. The Pisaresearch shows us that, too. In Finland there were not so many pupils, who gained extraordinary scores in the test. The Finnish system produces good average knowledge for wide masses of people. Really extraordinary talented pupils might get better teaching in the German system. In Finland many people receive a good chance to continue and deepen their studies later on. The Finnish system in principal doesn t leave people alone and it offers a good education in a wide sense of the word. The German system offers a good education, too. Some main functions of the two systems are just different

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