By Jamie Hunter,2014-07-04 09:03
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Jukka Kuittinen

    Counsellor for Education

    ESHA Board Member, Treasurer

    ICP Council Member

    Vice President for Finnish Association of Principals

Human Capital is Your Most Important Property

    The last few years have in many countries changed the direction of the National Economy and the new decade was entered in terms of economic instability. When the value of the capital measured in currency is staggering, the human capital deserves special emphasis. This capital is built on one’s

    upbringing, experiences of life and work in different stages, as well as education in knowledge and skills. Raising the amount and quality of education means increase of human capital.

Pursuing the Right and Useful Knowledge

    Currently and in the coming years, education and increasing human capital are of special interest when the nationwide quality criteria of the basic education, the curricula and the internationally comparable learning results are being pondered. The future school is, besides teaching, supposed to promote general civic and multicultural skills. The school encourages the realization of each individual’s hidden creativity. Especially in countries belonging to small linguistic areas, such as in the Scandinavian and Baltic countries, the acquisition of a versatile knowledge of foreign languages needs to be promoted.

    Beside the areas of development mentioned above the school systems of all countries need efforts to promote citizens’ social skills. Our society and living environment, being constantly built more and

    more on ICT, takes each of us daily to the realm of knowledge and before many choices. We have to choose between important and unessential, between good and bad knowledge. The school’s basic task

    is to take its students to the source of the right and useful knowledge in order to provide them with capability to manage in swordplay’s in knowledge in their lives and to exploit the gained knowledge in an ethically worthy way.

Don’t Forget the Wisdom of the Popular Tradition

Unfortunately enough, a lot of modern people don’t realize the value and importance of popular 1tradition and popular wisdom. In Finland we can see that the fascinating tradition of Kalevala, our

    National Epic, lives in the Finnish culture in many ways. Kalevala appears in one way or other in the street view, the names of many enterprises, products as well as the forms of artistic performance. With good reason we can say that the cultural influence by the National Epic, gathered by professor Elias Lönnrot on his wide expeditions, has since being published reached wide outside the literature proper.

Let’s tell a Kalevala tale as an example of a swordplay in knowledge. Young, defiant Joukahainen

    challenged old and wise Väinämöinen to a knowledge contest. However, Joukahainen’s whole

    knowledge was bare unimportant fragmentary knowledge, not wisdom. Having seen he was losing the contest, Joukahainen seized his sword. Then old Väinämöinen got angry and chanted Joukahainen to sink in the swamp. He can only rescued by promising to give his own sister to Väinämöinen as a wife.

     1 Kalevala is regarded as the national epic of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature. The Kalevala played an instrumental role in the development of the Finnish national identity, the intensification of Finland's language strife and the growing sense of nationality that ultimately led to Finland's independence from Russia in 1917

    Väinämöinen is conciliated and the tale continues. Surely you can guess that Joukahainen’s sister was not very delighted by his brother’s promise. Kalevala’s lessons completely accord the contempory

    spirit. It’s worth pondering to which extent Joukahainen’s fragmentary knowledge in comparable to surfing the Net and the unanalytic use of knowledge gained this way.

The Important Aid of Festival Traditions

    Memories of festivities and highlights interrupting everyday toil from childhood and youth remain in one’s mind throughout life. The preparations of these were exciting but on the other hand, the permanence connected to festival tradition, following a certain pattern, repetition of things as always in the past, have given us safety and security. It’s about transferring cultural or festival tradition from one generation to the next ones. In many cases we in one way or other follow traditions which have given a rhythm to everyday life for centuries.

    Cultural heritage and festival traditions belong to all of us and maintaining them is a duty of all of us, regardless of nation or state, but maybe with a certain emphasis among small nations.

    Cultural heritage is not taught as a distinct subject at least in Finnish schools, doubtfully anywhere else. Instead, curriculums have integrated it in several school subjects. It’s also important that through school festivities many valuable things of life are learned, which would be difficult to practise otherwise.

Youth is a Time of Attachment to Culture

     During school years a young person should get onto the way to education and stay on it throughout the whole life. It’s about lifelong learning and continuing gathering of knowledge and culture.

    Education can never be complete or perfect.

    The leading idea of Johan Vilhelm Snellman (1806-1881), a Finnish cultural trend-setter and social politician, was: “The power of culture and knowledge is the rescue of a nation.” Wisdom contains the

    knowledge of the factors contributing to success of Finland and individual Finns in Snellman’s time in ththe 19 century well as in our days, both in arts and culture and in sciences and technology. Snellman’s social philosophy combines respect for national culture and mother tongue with European

    international thinking in an atmosphere respecting all other people.

    An important question arises: Does the present-day education lead young persons to independent and creative enough thinking and further to an ennobled and judicious personality? Does the present-day youth have time to get attached to culture?

Education and the Right Values

    It goes without saying that the demanding task of the school is, beside transferring knowledge, to train the students to obtain the right values. Training to tolerance and respect for others and to humanity and unselfishness certainly help perceive one’s own living environment with its strengths and faults.

    Learning to critically observe knowledge helps to cope with the constantly increasing flood of information in the future. These skills are supposed to be the most versatile for we don’t know what the world is like in which our present students live their most effective working age in the 2040’s and 2050’s.

It’s self-evident that out of the Finnish viewpoint, at least, the demands for international skills and

versatile knowledge of foreign languages keep increasing all the time. However, we have to remember

that in the end, competing with oneself is more noble and important than competing on arenas.

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