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Monday's papers: Tech and teaching, triple shooting in Vantaa, raising a cup coffee for 100 years of independence

Starting the week, there are reports in Finnish newspapers Mondday of a study saying that high tech in schools may impede learning, three people wounded in a restaurant shooting in Vantaa, and Finns being urged to raise a cup of coffee in honour of a century of national independence.

A mug of coffee and a bun.
Image: Jyki Lyytikkä / Yle

The daily Helsingin Sanomat today reports on an analysis by the McKinsey international consultancy group examining the results of the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study comparing the academic skills of 15 year-olds in 72 countries.

One of the conclusions of the recently published study is that the use of PCs and tablet computers may have a detrimental impact on the learning process in schools.

Looking at the use of digital technologies by teachers and pupils in school settings and the use by pupils in their free time, this review found that teacher use and free time use by pupils show learning benefits. In contrast, the use of computers by pupils in the classroom, it says, may impede learning.

One of the authors of the report, Jussi Hiltunen, told Helsingin Sanomat that the time and effort expended by pupils in mastering the technology takes away from the content that they should be learning. "Right now, it seems that the devices get in the way of content in many schools," said Hiltunen.

Jukka Tulivuori of the National Agency for Education pointed out to the paper that the introduction of any new pedagogic method takes time, adding that what is now important is training teachers to be able to use these technologies in a reasonable manner. The same, he says, goes for pupils who may already use technical devices a lot in their free time.

"But, they do not necessarily have the skills needed for studies and for working life. It is a challenge to take pupils who are used to posting on Instagram from their smartphones and teaching them to use those phones for learning," says Jukka Tulivuori.

Future of education

Over the weekend, the Tampere-based newspaper Aamulehti  published a feature article looking not back at the past 100 years of Finnish history, but forward to the next 100 years, as envisaged by a number of academics and researchers.

Among them was Turku University Professor of Space Astronomy, and future studies researcher, Esko Valtaoja, who says that education is the key that will make or break the nation in the decades ahead.

"For the whole of the 2000s, we have been in free fall," Valtaoja said to Aamulehti. "Technology exports have declined, the level of education has fallen. The number of people in adult education has not risen. Cabinet ministers babble on about raising Finland up, but they make no concrete promises."

Pointing to the role of education in the successes achieved over the past century, Valtaoja argues that using and expanding the skills of each individual throughout their lives is the right path forward.

"In the past, people were channelled in one direction once in their lives. After getting a basic education, we got a profession. In the future we will shift to a society of life-long learning, and when that happens the education of the entire population will have to be updated many times during a single lifetime."

Triple shooting

High among the headlines in most morning papers, including both main newsstand tabloids, Iltalehti and Ilta-Sanomat, was the shooting of three people late Sunday at a restaurant in the Rajatorppa district of Vantaa.

The papers report that all three victims have been hospitalised, but none of their injuries are life threatening.

Police have taken one man into custody as the suspected shooter, and have recovered the weapon used in the incident. No further information was made available about the suspect, or if the victims were known to the gunman.

Police are to issue more details sometime Monday afternoon.

Raising a cup

Finland has the highest per capita consumption of coffee in the world, so what more suitable drink could there be for celebrating a century of independence?

The Metro freesheet reports Monday that the Finland 100 Years project organisation, which is carrying the responsibility for centenary celebrations, is urging the public to take a national, festive coffee break at 2 PM Tuesday afternoon.

The organisation's communications manager, Päivi Pirttilä, points out that a cup of coffee, with or without a bun, is always a very Finnish way to mark any important occasion.

"We hope that everyone will take a moment in their own communities to have a celebratory cup of coffee.”

She added that the timing has been intentionally been set during the day, so that many people will still be with colleagues at work or school before going on to celebrate Independence Day, most with their families.

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