I think laissez faire should actually be a Finnish word. Yesterday I got my first nibble at the Finnish education system. There are a few things that differ quite a bit from my experience of university at UCT…
The lecture slot are two hours long, but the lecture is actually only (!!!) 90 minutes long. So my 8am to 10am lecture actually started at 8:15 and finished by 9:45. The 12 – 2pm lecture slot started at 12:30 and ended at 2pm. Easy once you know. Awkward when you don’t.
Before we even get to how they grade work, I need to point out that for the first few years of teacher education, they don’t grade work at all. The work is marked, but not graded. I don’t really understand this yet, but will probably grow to understand it over time (watch this blog). So, when they do start grading work, there seems to be two systems for grading work.
The first one is a simple Pass or a Fail. How well did you pass? Doesn’t matter. How badly did you fail? Doesn’t matter. Interesting, hey.
The second system is a 5 point system:5 is excellent, 4 is very good, 3 is good, 2 is satisfactory, 1 is sufficient and 0 is fail. Sounds like a lot of positive affirmation.
Referring to lecturers
Not that the UCT School of Education is particularly big on titles, but in Finland, they really aren’t. They are a very “fair” society and value equality in all shapes and forms (more about this in a later blog about walking into closing doors and the death of chivalry). The relevance of this for the workplace and for university is that there is not meant to be a major difference between how you treat your lectures as they are your colleagues too.
Everything in Finland has a plan. Nothing has not been thought of. So, the idea is that you get with the plan and everything will be fine for you. This can (understandably) take a bit of getting used to though… The lectures are sort of at the same time and same day every week but they move around quite a bit too so they give you a table for the course you are doing that lists each day, time and venue that your lecture is in. Then you fill it in, in your daily diary or google calendar or whatever. Then, you just obey your calendar and hope you don’t lose it somewhere.
The actual work
Seems to be a whole lot of reflections (my UCT PGCE classmates will LOVE that). For the one course, the lecturer said, “This project should take you 60 hours. Stop when its taken you 60 hours. If you haven’t finished by then, that’s fine, just let me know how far you got”. We have to hand in weekly reflections on the project and he could mark those or the final project… whichever we would prefer. Oki dokes.
My lectures start in full swing next week so for now, there’s just time for sorting out admin and spending time with new friends.
On a lighter note, my lovely housemate heard I was a little under the weather and gave me a wonderful face mask pack… Seems like girls from all over love to be pampered.