Text: Gaoming Zheng, Qianting Liu
Photos: Maria Kasdaglis
The Finnspired-Sino Talk on education organised in April was a seminar where Chinese scholars talked about their observations about the Finnish educational system and Finnish researchers presented their views on education in China. The seminar was arranged by the Sino-Finnish Educational Research Center (SFERC), Chinese Students’ and Scholars’ Association in Tampere (CSSA Tampere), and Chinese Students’ and Scholars’ Association in Jyväskylä (CSSA Jyväskylä) and sponsored by the Chinese Embassy in Finland, the University of Tampere, and Tribe Tampere.
The event was chaired by Ms. Qin He, Director of Study and Training at CSSA, the Chinese Students’ and Scholars’ Association in Tampere. The first opening speech was given by Mr. Yuhang Gao, Head of Education Sector at the Chinese Embassy in Finland who also has expertise in education from such countries as Japan and New Zealand.
In the second opening speech, Dean Antti Lönnqvist from the Faculty of Management congratulated the event for involving students and scholars from different universities in China and Finland. He pointed out that China and Finland can learn from each other’s educational systems if they can find an effective way to share experiences between the two countries.
The third opening speech was given on behalf of Professor Baocun Liu, Director of the Sino-Finnish Education Research Centre at Beijing Normal University, in the form of a letter read by Dr. Yuzhuo Cai. Professor Liu expressed his appreciation for Tampere as a pioneer in Sino-Finnish education and research cooperation and wished the seminar every success.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Yuzhuo Cai, senior lecturer, adjunct professor and Director of the Sino-Finnish Education Research Centre at UTA talked about aspects China and Finland can learn from each other in the field of education. Finnish education is becoming an increasingly popular topic in China. However, Finnish education may be slightly misunderstood there. For instance, many think that there is not that much pressure or competition in studies in Finland, but this is not the case because many Finnish students must put a great deal of effort into gaining entrance into their dream universities.
Cai also pointed out that Finnish education should be seen as a mirror in China instead of a tool. The full picture of Finnish education should be examined by the Chinese so that they can choose useful elements to be applied to Chinese education. In addition, Cai pointed out some aspects of Finnish education that could be adopted in China in the short term, such as teaching techniques, new ways of learning, entrance exam practices, regional higher education development, and arousing students’ interest in learning.
The keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Ms. Gaoming Zheng, Chairperson of CSSA Tampere and doctoral researcher at the University of Tampere.
In the panel, Professor Bing Zuo from Lingnan Normal University and a visiting scholar at UTA said that she is deeply touched by the trust people have for each other in Finland. The trustful relationships between Finnish teachers, parents and students are something the Chinese could learn from. The cornerstone for reaching this goal would be to improve teacher training.
Associate Professor Lijie Li from Tianjin Normal University pointed out that teachers are also students who should have the capacity to learn. Only by learning things themselves can teachers teach others how to study. She talked about good evaluation and how equality at schools also equals high-quality education.
Dr. Jiao Cheng from South China Normal University and a visiting scholar at UTA took her own child to a Finnish kindergarten. She has thus experienced Finnish education also through her child’s eyes and felt true joy at learning. She suggested that discovering what children or students are interested in and teaching them how to study rather than filling them with knowledge, should be introduced in Chinese education. She has compared the Finnish and Chinese vocational training for her research and recommends that vocational education reform should be undertaken in China.
Ms. Tanyu Chen, Customer Relations Manager from Tampere University of Applied Sciences, vividly described the culture shock of Chinese students in Finland and how their experiences could be used in education reform.
Clinical Instructor Paula Strengell shared her experiences of a visit to Jinan University in China and talked about the cultural differences between the two countries. She recommended that Finns should start thinking about what they can learn from the Chinese educational system.