Country Visited: Finland
Program year: 2012-2013
I had the honor of living in Finland for six months to study how Finnish students learn problem-solving skills. I traveled the country and spent hundreds of hours talking with teachers, students and administrators learning the “secrets” behind their success. I was inspired and amazed and I came back to the United States a better teacher, a better person, and a more insightful problem solver myself.
I swam in icy Finnish water, I bathed in traditional Finnish saunas, I ate reindeer, and I slept in a snow hotel. I learned to unleash my creativity when I participated in a week-long training course for music teachers – and I am not a music teacher – I’m a science teacher. I picked this training course because of one specific school visit where I observed high levels of problem solving in a middle school music classroom; I had to learn more.
My Fulbright experience challenged my perspective of what it means to be a global citizen and what it means to be a teacher. I learned what it means to live and teach in a culture that is collaborative rather than competitive, and I learned how the children of a nation thrive when teachers are given the time and freedom to design lessons that match what students need to learn and are taught to apply those lessons in problem solving contexts.
I highly recommend the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program for anyone who is curious, dedicated, adventurous, and wants the opportunity to learn more about teaching and learning and desires to share it with others. Good luck!
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