I asked Andreas if he thought it would be beneficial for an American teacher to travel to Finland to study how Finnish teachers teach scientific problem solving. Could there be a better place to go? The Finns consistently have some of the highest scores in the world for their 15-year old students. I would like to go and learn how the Finns are achieving this. Did Andreas Schleicher think it would be a valuable experience?
He said, Go to Finland! The American system is very "top-down" and it would be very beneficial to have a American teacher's perspective of the Finnish system. (I'm paraphrasing here.)
I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. Now I had to find a way to get to Finland. The Finnish seem to be so successful in most everything they do, including what they do in education. What educational and cultural lessons can we learn from them? What bridges can we build between cultures? How can we make improvements in how we do things in the U.S.? What can we share with them? These questions (and answers) are why the Fulbright program is so perfect for this endeavor.
Here are the scientific problem solving results for 15-year old students on the 2009 international Program for International Assessment (PISA) . (Full PISA results HERE.) It's easy to see why research in Finnish schools could be beneficial to our educational system.
My conversation with Andreas Scheichler occurred 16 months ago. The prep work to go to Finland has taken a long time. Too long. But this is what it's taken to arrange things so I can travel to Finland for six months.
I leave for Finland five weeks from today.
My latest dilemma is finding a place to live in Joensuu because so few apartments are available to rent. Most are unfurnished. Hopefully the problem of finding a place to live will be resolved very soon. My mentor at the University of Eastern Finland has found me a potential place to live and he hoped to sign a rental agreement today. It's 3:45 PM PST/1:45 AM (tomorrow) Finland time and I haven't heard anything yet. I hope he was successful.
Here is where I hope to live in Joensuu:
Now picture it covered in snow. Still beautiful, yes? I hope this will be my walk to work at the university, 3.5 km. away.