Christmas Brunch (#96/100)

Breakfast and lunch digested into one meal, makes up the brunch of TAKK, the TAKK style. Brunch turns into ”brunssi” in Finnish, which is a ”Finnslation” of the word. Originally the word ”brunch” came up in the context of the late 1800’s partyswingers, having the first meal of the day slightly later on Sunday (fits also the Finnish ”pikkujoulu”, little Christmas). However, our brunch in TAKK has no prior party agenda, nor the cheerfulness of the socialites. We’ve had out breakfast before the ”brunssi” and we will work for the whole day.

Brunching in TAKK

TAKK brunch today gathered together a whole bunch of brunchers – both students and staff members of TAKK. There were many typical breakfast items served, such as rice pastries, eggs, rye bread and fruits, but also the approaching Christmas was there on the serving tables: rice porridge with cinnamon, ham slices, glogg (glögi) and bundt cake. Pls see here for yourself.

10 days to Christmas.


Experience of ”Learning Together” (#95/100)

Yhdessä oppien in TAKK

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Colleagues in TAKK have had an opportunity to be trained this fall in a unique training programme called Yhdessä oppien or ”Learning Together”. The programme has produced pedagogical solutions, to be directly applied in VET, thus making the way smoother for the immigrant students of TAKK. The name Learning together comes from the theme of co-creating the cross-cultural competence between and with the colleagues for the integration training needs. The needs concern many areas: learning the language, integrating into the society, preparing for the vocational studies and acquiring vocational competence for the working life, including qualifications.

I say unique, because there is a deep understanding of cross-cultural competence behind this programme.

The driver and teacher of the programme, Ms Mari Poikolainen, has drawn insight from anthropology into practice. The series of sessions have followed each other. First (1), Immigrant student in the application phase, second (2), Acquiring the competence in training, third (3), Learning at the workplace and fourth (4), Passing a qualification. The programme has organised sessions, where TAKK trainers have learnt from each other; paving the way for the individual study paths for students of immigrant background; and most of all, have shared the experiences between the integration phase teachers and vocational trainers.

Experience I say, as no matter what and how much you have studied (anthropologist here, too), you can never acquire the competence and understanding before you have lived through and discussed the everyday problems with your colleagues in the same situation. TAKK spirit here certainly helps: Ask, and you will be answered. There are many solutions the knowledgeable trainers have discovered along the way and here – by the coffees and sandwiches – they have been shared.

Thank You, Mari P.

Independent Finns 100 years (#94/100)

Lighting the two candles for Finnish Maiden at 18 hrs

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Birthday is always a time to go back the memory lane. To recall how the concerned person got there. As the celebrated character today is a country – Finland – we have to go back a hundred and more years to the times of not being independent as a state, to the troubled times, to sad events and sorrow FOR and INSIDE the nation. Rolling down the road to present days in Finland, there were the years of reconstruction, remaking the souls and the buildings in 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s and still in 1950’s. I wonder whether this all has made us a people with such lamenting songs and gloomy ballads – or is it in the character of Finns? However, there have been many wonderful occasions and matters in Finland throughout these years: solid education for all, good care for the elderly, fancy sports events, creation of many natural parks and engineering competence wonders – to name a few of the brand factors.

Finland is often seen and discussed as Finnish Maiden (Suomi-neito), as Finland geographically DOES seem like a maiden, raising one arm (used to raise two). She was originally called Aura, as the Aura River in Turku, the old capital of Finland. So as a matter of fact, we are celebrating the 100 years of Aura, the blue and white lady with bright eyes, a lot like the Aurora of fairytales; sunrise. Finnish Maiden is a classical guardian character, as so many people around the earth have. Some might even call her the Mother Earth or Finland.

I am wishing this lady, Finnish Maiden now a beautiful birthday, with loads of wisdom and kindness of heart in all local and global matters. I wish she will stay still when the suspicious minds fight at each other, I wish she will be the negotiator of many conflicts as before, I wish she will carry on protecting the mattimeikäläinen (or Joe Public of UK, Pepito Pérez of Spain, Si Anu of Malaysia, Pierre Dupont of France…), I wish she will be the real lady she has been and still is. And I wish she never loses her SISU, the miraculous strength we all live by when all other energy is lost.

To balance the nostalgy and eloquence of the previous lines, let’s take a piece of poem by Jorma Etto, Suomalainen (Finn) with translation of mine there below:

“Suomalainen on sellainen joka vastaa kun ei kysytä,

kysyy kun ei vastata, ei vastaa kun kysytään,

sellainen joka eksyy tieltä, huutaa rannalla

ja vastarannalla huutaa toinen samanlainen: metsä raikuu, kaikuu, hongat humajavat.”

-Jorma Etto


[A Finn is one that replies when not asked,

asks when not replied to, does not reply when asked,

one who loses track, shouts on the shore

and on the opposite shore there is one just the same: the forest blares, echoes, the pinetrees hum.]

Saunas of TAKK (#93/100)

Nirva C sauna stove

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Remember the blogs of Coffee (#40) and Winter (#80)? Well, one very important Finnish element is missing: SAUNA. How could I have forgot it until blog #93? Almost as impossible as forgetting your own head – in Finland.

Saunas and us. History of sauna in very brief, in size of this blog. Sauna [sauna], not [soona], is most likely the most sacred place of the Finns (forest is a bad competitor). It used to be the cleanest place in the home, the warmest (well, yeah) and the most spiritual one. Did-you-know that the name sauna refers to the stove, pack of hot stones that gives you the steam with water thrown on the pile. Sauna in the olden days was the place to be born in, to smoke meat, to wash clothes, to dry grains and to be washed for the last time before the eternal journey, to mention perhaps the most important functions. Even nowadays, you do not curse in the sauna, as the sauna elf (saunatonttu) might get mad at you and then the hell is loose. All in all, sauna is a haven and perhaps even a heaven to many.

Saunas of TAKK. There are three of them (to my knowledge). I am not sure whether they are cleaner than the rest of the premises or whether they are very spiritual places, but we sure warm them up many times a month, do not dare to curse there (too much), some of us are “reborn” there after the working hours and sometimes we enjoy grain there in a more refined form – after working hours, of course. Many meeting are finished by having a TAKK sauna, pikkujoulu (Little Christmas) is certainly started in all TAKK saunas and recreation days are nothing without the sauna.

PS. I do have to add SISU on the list. More about that in #94.

Here Comes The Sun! (#92/100)

by Tailee See, TAKK trainee

Since end October, the daily weather has been gloomy, it’s either raining, snowing or misty and the day becomes shorter, night gets longer.  My daily mood is also following the flow of the seasonal weather.  During the spring and summer time, I could feel everything come to live, birds chirping with joy, flowers blooming, rabbits hopping around the garden, ducks swimming in the lake, young ladies in colourful summer clothes, parading their colourful hairs.  But they all slowly disappeared when season changed.  As for me, I feel like a slowly deflated balloon, losing its energy of staying afloat in the air.

Gloomy late fall, last day of November…

Ooh…I need to stay optimistic.

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Learning in Upper Secondary (#91/100)

Thoughts of November

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

I was inspired by EU. The membership of the International Team of AMKE has given me a chance to follow European education policy closer than before. The document of Council of the European Union on The future of skills and the changing role of VET in education and training systems – Discussion paper (by the Estonian Presidency) inspired me to elaborate the existing education system of Finland in the secondary.

In the document, the authors write that —the Presidency would like to encourage participants to think about the nature of the change needed (if any) in how education and training systems are organised into sectors (general education, VET, higher education, adult learning) and about the future role of VET in skills provision.

I started thinking, why do we actually have a separate vocational and general upper secondary school in Finland?  Think about it, at 16, when your life is a sweet and sour mess, you should choose whether you take the vocational OR the general path. At sixteen, you are just learning to work together for longer-term goals with the others in the group, then suddenly, you are forced to know, whether you want theory or practice – exaggerating a bit. The same bunch of young ones that play together, hang around together, look for their life paths together, are taken apart and put to either the High Way or the Vocational Way.

Life does not go like that.

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TAKK projects run DIGItal (#90/100)

Digital Trainer of project 24/7

Four words for the TAKK present strategy: DIGI, INTEGRATION, SALES and QUALITY. Shortly in Finnish DIGI, KOTO, MYYNTI and LAATU. Short little words and lots behind them. Let’s take a practical peek at DIGI.

The long family name of DIGI is Developing digital learning and working environments. This involves developing quite many things and competences in several projects, and I will scan them from the perspective of the VET trainers.

  • Digi4Adults, Erasmus+ KA2 develops and shares methods for improving skills and competences to stay employed. Trainers Ms Pirjo Sillman of TAKK Interior Decorators, for example, in her blog text talks about taking little steps in image processing and blogging, as her students make benefit of visually elaborated portfolios in their employability.
  • Noheva (ESF) focuses on literacy, numeracy and IT skills for adult students; developing tests, materials and models. This helps trainers in identifying and supporting their students in lifelong learning skills and vocational studies.
  • Third case, Tasa-arvoinen oppiminen 24/7 (MEC), is an interesting prospect of developing the web store for qualification-based studies and a pedagogical script for making online programmes. This, I look forward to proceed in large scale, as our carbon foorprint just cannot take anymore the travel we have done so far.

It is time to go mobile, digital and software when the learning allows so and actually favours it! Definitely there is always the demand for the live meetings, discussion and experience exchange, but the digital is here to stay, support us and help to create learning environments never seen before, so let’s make the most of DIGItal in Finnish VET.