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As described by Kristina Kaihari from the Finnish National Agency for Education, innovation is one of the main skills the education system is seeking to give to pupils and students. As such, the recently updated core curriculums reflect this goal in the following
- Pupils and students are encouraged to be innovative
- learning environments are multiple, as such learning outside of school is encouraged
- Transversal skills are being developed
- Trials are being made to find the ‘right’ kind of pedagogical method for motivating young people
- Learning by doing is appreciated
- Interaction skills in a changing world are given more respect. (Personal exchange from Kaihari 7th of June 2017; For more specific information, see also National core curriculum for basic education.
‘Fostering innovation’ as a term is not explicitly mentioned so often in the general discussion about youth work in Finland. At the same time youth work has its basis in giving young people an active role in planning, realising and evaluating youth work services, so the aspect is inherently involved in the actions of youth work. Nonetheless, there are two processes originating from the non-formal field that are actively being called “fostering innovation”. These are school club activities offered by the Development Centre Opinkirjo (see below) and the work related to the digitalisation in youth work and youth information and counselling services, see more in Youth Wiki/Finland 10 Youth Work.
As mentioned in the Basic Education Act, school club activities, for example, which are closely related to education may be arranged in conjunction with basic education. The Development Centre Opinkirjo is a service organisation for child and youth work that promotes the well-being of children and youth. Opinkirjo develops and produces services and content for school clubs (like science clubs), hobby activities, culture and science education and citizenship education. These (services and content) aim to ensure possibilities for children and youth to grow mentally coherent, self-confident, resilient, intellectual and critical, with the abilities to use problem-solving thinking methods. The organization was founded under the auspices of the Suomen Opettajain Liitto (Finnish Teachers’ Union) and could thus immediately address issues relevant to youth and education policy.
Opinkirjo supports the establishment of school clubs as part of any given school’s development in being a rich learning environment. The schools are guided in how to establish the club by drawing upon to the strengths of all the participants, with the idea that all the activities are based on the collaboration and active citizenship of young people. Clubs can be established at both lower and upper levels of basic education, thanks to the relevant contents and active working methods made available by Opinkirjo to involve all age groups. Club activities include simulations and real-life situations, such as excursions, role-playing and experts’ visits.
Opinkirjo offers for example:
The Finnish Contest for Young Scientists (in Finnish Tutki-Kokeile-Kehitä) is a Finnish science and technology competition for young people, between the ages of 6 and 20, to foster an interest in science and technology. The winners of The Finnish Contest for Young Scientists participate in the EU Young Scientist Contest and other international contents such as Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and Genius Olympiad. The Finnish Contest for Young Scientists is organised in co-operation with Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK.
The aim of 'Let´s invent more - Learning materials for Invention Clubs' is to provide tools to teachers and club advisors in order to encourage a creative atmosphere and to direct an inventive club.
Opinkirjo supports creative problem-solving also by offering service design -methods (in Finnish Muotoilukasvatus) suitable for use with children and young people in teaching.
The entrepreneurship education provided by Development Opinkirjo aims to improve children’s and adolescents’ involvement and activity as future citizens both in their personal lives and as part of their communities and society at large. Entrepreneurship education is a part of citizenship education and the term ‘entrepreneurship’ is understood broadly. It constitutes skills pertaining to life management, interaction and self-management as well as the ability to innovate and cope with change. The association also organises an annual contest of entrepreneurship (in Finnish Yritys Hyvä). (More information about the contest see Youth Wiki/Finland 8.6 Developing entrepreneurial skills through culture).