The Finns have koekaniinit, the Brits have guinea pigs, and back in 1993 Tampereen lyseon lukio had IB students. This bold experiment involved a group of applicants signing up for a new kind of high school course taught by teachers who had no experience of running such a programme.
In a bid to fix this, Rellu sent their IB teachers teachers to Prague for IB training. You can see them below smiling in the summer sunshine. Missing from the photo is Mike Davies, English teacher and writer of this article, because he is the one behind the camera.
From left to right: Raimo Karvonen (Chemistry) Risto Moisio (English), Heikki Juslen (Physics), David McCrirric (Biology), Salla Luukkonen (History), Kari Nieminen (Maths), Erkki Moisio (Finnish).
What did we learn from our week in Prague? As expected, we became familiar with syllabus outlines, grade criteria, internal assessment tasks and all the other bureaucratic bits and bobs that make up the IB. But we learned other things too. We learned that David’s Scottish accent was impossible to decipher, even after days of listening to it. Even his name – McCrirric – proved a struggle for many in our group.
We learned that Heikki Juslen is an amazing dancer. When he hit the dance floor on our Vltava River cruise, he put the rest of us to shame with his smooth moves and sharp footwork. We learned that Salla knows how to organise party games – she had us all doing mime activities back at the hotel. I also learned that Risto knew more about English grammar than I did which was scary since I would be teaching alongside him when we got back to Rellu.
We returned to Finland, tanned by the Prague sun and a little more confident about what we were doing. If I’m honest, though, the most important training came from our students who quickly knocked us into shape with their questions and suggestions and criticisms.
Looking at that photo, it is clear how time has moved on. Raimo, Risto, Heikki and Erkki have retired. Kari Nieminen is now teaching maths in Norssi. As far as IB teaching goes, Salla and I are the last men standing.
As for the Scotsman, David McCrirric, the last we heard of him, he was roaming the jungles of Borneo working with orangutans. A big step up from guinea pigs.