Ekku Toivanen and Tinja MÃÃttÃ, students from the University of Lapland in Finland's Arctic Circle, are teaching third graders in Steve Ahoâ??s class at South Range Elementary all about Finland.
Coming from a country that's a world-renowned leader in education, both Toivanen and MÃÃttÃ said the differences in education are slight, but powerful.
â??American schools, they have the same basics, but there are many small things that we do differently in Finland, and that makes the difference,â?? said Toivanen. â??We donâ??t study for the tests. We study to learn, to understand things. I think that people, especially small kids, should be encouraged to read and to research for information.â??
â??Kids here can be more free in the class than in Finland,â?? added MÃÃttÃ. â??We have to sit still and pay attention all the time.â??
For two hours each day, Toivanen and MÃÃttÃ teach the kids anything from Finnish games to researching in the computer lab.
â??We learned about Finnish words and Finnish history and Finnish games some more,â?? said student Dannika Linna.
â??Weâ??re learning albums and music,â?? added student Liana Therrian.
The kids are even learning to speak some Finnish, which they said hasnâ??t been the easiest lesson.
â??Itâ??s hard to speak when you already know English!â?? said student Brooklyn Rajala.
They head back to Finland in May, and though their time in the Keweenaw is soon coming to a close, Toivanen and MÃÃttÃ said theyâ??re glad for the opportunity to teach here and look forward to continuing in their education careers.
â??Itâ??s been wonderful,â?? said MÃÃttÃ. â??The kids are amazing.â??
â??They have built up my confidence so much because these kids are so enthusiastic,â?? added Toivanen. â??They never give up, they are open to new ideas, they try. I love that.â??