Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Do Finns take risks?


Laurea University of Applied Sciences made a strategic choice to implement, develop and use Learning by Developing as an operational model in order to contribute to the growth of the region around Helsinki, as well as to provide tangible employability benefits to its population of 8000 students. The LbD model at Laurea is work in progress but a quick review of it indicated a number of useful lessons.

Learning by Developing (LbD) is an innovative operating model which requires students to undertake projects rooted in the world of work and acquire two sets of competences. The first being generic such as work/life knowledge and skills and the second are subject specific competences.

Whatever the definition of LbD, its overall “pedagogical” lessons, the vision and its values, its implementation, the practicalities, or even the sheer magnitude of challenges in getting it adopted by 500 faculty, the most striking feature of the programme is that it turns the intent of the Institution by 90 degrees.

From being concerned about tick boxes of grades and achievements, from form filling for the Government, from being concerned about teaching units, efficiency, resource utilisation and so forth to a deep concern about enabling students to learn what they need to learn so that they may succeed in their lives and careers. This University is being run as if students matter! A value set not unlike the seminal work of Schumacher in the 1970s whose book “small is Beautiful” was a turning point in liberating the spirit of individuals.

Do Finns take risks? Well at Laurea they seem to – but they do so with a very deep sense of values, based on trust that the students will rise to the challenge and take on the behaviours and aspirations that are being expected of them. It is very early days yet to see if this is going to work, but the evidence I saw is that when you believe in people they respond. So, maybe they do not take risks after all!!


1 comment:

Jonathan Markwell said...

This is really positive stuff. Glad to see somewhere in the world they are taking these ideas seriously. What is the closest we have to this in the UK?