The main goal of Finnish education is to support students to grown up their full potential and become responsible members of our society. All school activities should support this goal. In this process, an active student participation is crucial. It does not only mean being active during the lessons but also being active in a school community and school’s development. This is even written in the Finnish education law: each student must have a possibility to participate the school activities and express opinions on the issues related to them. This includes, for example, the planning of a local curriculum and the school’s rules and regulations. A tool for this is a student union.
According to the same education law, each school must have a student union. The student union consists of all students and is represented by a democratically selected board. Even though the main task of the student union is to influence the school’s development it can also organise different theme days, publish a school magazine or even have own café. The board is responsible for organising activities and delivering messages from the students to teachers and vice versa. It is crucial to remember that the student union is not only a channel for participation but also an important extra curriculum activity to learn democratic, negotiation and influence skills.
An important facilitator for the student union is a responsible teacher. The main role of the teacher is to support the union and its board in their responsibilities, coordinate board activities and to be a contact person between the board, other school teachers and school leadership. S/he has an extremely important role in a democratic education. Therefore, there are national level materials for teachers to support them in this important work. The responsible teacher has a huge responsibility guiding students when they are learning responsibility and necessary skills for their life.
The student participation in the school’s development and many other topics will be discussed during KOULU Group’s EduVenture event in Helsinki, Finland September 2017. Learn more and join us at https://www.eply.com/eduventure2017/