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Meeting Maija Vanhanen, Principal of the Maunula Secondary School and Helsinki School of Mathematics

Erasmus K1 Finland


Her name is Maija Vanhanen, Principal of the Maunula Secondary School and Helsinki School of Mathematics. She manages this school in a neighbourhood of Helsinki with a strong presence of immigrants, but they are very well integrated. Only in English is taught in international classes. This is also a way to favour the integration of those who, coming from different countries of the world, must know how to integrate into the Finnish social system which, we must remember, must pass from the knowledge of the Finnish language. We were attending one of these lessons after our teachers Titti Romio, Leonardo Gabriele and Cristina Faraco, presented a summary of our territory and on our school. A boy from Somalia, who is listened to us, asked for Rino Gattuso and his eyes shined full of dreams about the conviction of being able to do it.

Students work on devices provided by the school. Teachers previously load the differentiated jobs by groups and control the execution from the central station. The times and spaces of the Finnish school surprised us here too. Around, in the corridors, other pieces of the school were nothing else or lost time at school. In the morning they have two breaks of half an hour and at 11 am all in the lunchroom, also free for everyone here, although even this is not a full-time school.

Maija, the Dean, while it's snowing outside, talks about the time teachers spend at school planning their work. From their positions in the teaching room, one perceives that all the preparation work is done in the school: comfortable rooms with sofas, kitchen corners, cafeteria and refrigerator. There are no circulars that force teachers to stay in school. As for Italian teachers, it is written in their contract and they respond to the results in the knowledge that a well-designed work will bear fruit.

The design, however, does not concern the formation of classes after enrollment. Dean Maija presents the sequence:

- by February enrollment of students

- by March the Dean forms the classes IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

- by March the principal assigns the teachers to the classes. End.

A different school system is perceived even when it speaks of the almost total absence of parental participation.

They are rarely called by the school for particular problems. Excessively disinterested or reassured by a school system that works?

Meanwhile, we returned to Italy in our "special" normality. In "dream on" mode .....


Susanna Capalbo




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