New publication: Researchers calling for a school reform

Press release 13.9.2011

- The current school practice, where learning is based mostly on textbooks and bound to the school building and traditional classrooms, does not match with the media era and fails to inspire the students, says Senior Researcher Kirsi Pohjola from the Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä.

Pohjola has edited a brand new book titled "Uusi Koulu – oppiminen mediakulttuurin aikakaudella" (New School – Learning in the era of media culture). In this book a number of educational experts question the current school and envisage new forms for future schooling.

- The Finnish school system is now faced with a choice: We either keep on this track, which would mean that an increasing number of students will eventually lose their touch with meaningful learning, or we take seriously the changes in learning environments and society in general, comments Pohjola the state of school.

Learning more interesting outside school

According to Pohjola, learning has spread out everywhere. She argues that for students most meaningful learning takes place outside school, like on the Internet and in other media, through friends, social media, and hobbies.

- Now that plenty of information is readily available, what is the role of school and teachers?, asks Kristiina Kumpulainen with her research team.
The team answers that the teacher needs to act more and more as a bridge builder for learning between school and other learning environments, as a facilitator and guide of learning in different ways.

- Teachers should reinforce students’ natural, contemporary ways of learning and also producing knowledge in new learning environments, point out Peppi Taalas, Päivi Häkkinen and their colleagues.

– At school the students have to give up many patterns of thinking and acting they have learned elsewhere.

Well-being at school requires that students are heard and involved. When people feel well, they learn. When people learn, they feel well. Learning and well-being at school go hand in hand.

- Sufficient well-being is a prerequisite for learning, tell Leena Holopainen and Kristiina Lappalainen, who have studied pedagogical well-being. - The present emphasis on cognitive school achievements and all-pervasive pressures for efficiency and success do call school well-being into question. The well-being of individual students would require closer listening, interaction and support as well as the student’s greater involvement in the community than what is possible to provide at school today, criticise Holopainen and Lappalainen.

– This undermines learning and schoolwork becomes stressing.

The researchers seem to agree that student involvement and community spirit are largely lacking at school.

- Individualism is present in daily school life, be it about student assessment or conflict resolution. Problem situations are seen as problems of individuals, not as group oriented, says Johanna Kuivakangas. She finds that school needs group dynamics that is mastered in youth work.
The teacher plays a decisive role, although teachers have but limited possibilities to influence the present school which aims at maximum efficiency.

-Teaching work is sacred, because as teachers we respect and take care for students’ whole personality. Teaching and providing support to learning is easiest for those who understand that teacher’s work is not only about the delivery of information but primarily about facilitating the development of students’ personality through respect and recognition, depicts Olli-Pekka Moisio.

Further information: Senior Researcher Kirsi Pohjola, +358 44 563 5252,

Kirsi Pohjola (Ed.) 2011. Uusi Koulu. Oppiminen mediakulttuurin aikakaudella [New School – Learning in the era of media culture]. Koulutuksen tutkimuslaitos, Jyväskylän yliopisto. Available in Finnish only.