Listening to Finland Search for Creativity


Minsheng Lecture




Consulate General of Finland in Shangha, Business Finland, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum

Experiences of Education in Finland and China

Guest: Tiina Laurila (Finland)
Consulate General of Finland in Shanghai, Business Finland, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum
Date: Friday, November 6, 2020
Time: 19:00-21:00
Multimedia Hall (1F), Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum
Language: English (with interpretation)

Notice:For public health security, please make a real-name preservation and bring your ID for admission of the event. Please wait in line to get your temperature measured, hands sanitized, and information registered with the help of our staff. Please wear a face mask during the event. If you are experiencing a fever, coughing, or short breath, please understand that admission is not granted.

2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Finland. Coincidently, the current exhibition in Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum is the great Finnish contemporary artist duo Tommi Grönlund and Petteri Nisunen’s first solo exhibition ever held in Asia. During this exhibition, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum collaborates with the Consulate General of Finland in Shanghai and Business Finland to launch the series of public education activities “Listening to Finland” in honor of the 70th anniversary of China-Finland diplomatic relations. This series of public education activities will cover diverse aspects of Finland, including art, architecture, design, education, lifestyle, people’s relation with nature, etc., in order to panoramically reveal the contemporary cultural climate of Finland and bring in new energy to the current conversation between China and Finland. Hopefully the audience can be inspired to have more perspectives on the current exhibition.

Finland is a highly developed capitalism country, an almost Utopia. Finnish life seems peaceful and calm. In this small country where the small population leads to “no competition”, children’s happiness is valued even in education. Lately, Finland has been in the spotlight of the education world as the country with “the best education” and the “Phenomenon Based Learning”. It is believed that Finland is one of the most competitive countries in the world.
Finland’s schools are publicly funded. There are no private education institutes with expensive tuition charges. Finland’s educational expenditure takes up over 11% of all the public expenditure, with its spending on per students ranking near middle among the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members, but its students scored the highest on PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment, in the early 2000s. Finnish students have the least homework and abundant time to live: reading non-curriculum-related books, doing nothing, playing video games, doing sports…Surprisingly, such education mode make Finnish high school students score best at comprehensive performance, and the differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world. While in higher education, students can take any optional courses they want, regardless of their majors, grades, or even colleges. Education, skills training and economic development is closely connected together, which is rated as the best in the world by World Economic Forum, for multiple times.


Founder of the Finnish game “Angry Birds”
Peter Vesterbacka

Unlike most of the countries that take Elite Education strategies, Finland emphasizes equality in education, with its system design and resource distribution revolving around this word. It is its national consensus that human intelligence is the most important national asset, so education is provided by the government for everyone at every period of life. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. In Finland, all teachers are highly professionalized—only the top 10% talents will enter the teaching profession. Teachers in Finland spend fewer hours at school each day and spend less time in classrooms than American teachers. Teachers use the extra time to build curriculums and perfect the teaching process. “Let the children have time to be children, only then would creativity happen.” Through “positive education,” it is a norm to let students learn at their own pace. Even if a student is not good at any subject, teachers will still encourage them to find their own advantages in order to build their confidence: the student could still be rational, creative, ambitious, compassionate, persistent, or kind.

With “the best education system in the world”, Basic Education plays a vital role in Finland. During Basic Education, art subjects take up one third of the school curriculum. Architecture, visual art, hand craft, media, art, music, literature, acrobats, dance, and theatre constitute the art education, while music, visual art and craft art are the core subjects that integrates with other disciplines. The curriculum is designed to prepare the children for real life. Through hand craft, weaving, sewing, carpentry, architecture courses that combines learning, living, and citizen education, Finnish educators conduct “phenomenon-based learning” to teach the students to be passionate for learning and living. It also aims to provoke students to learn about their future vocational choices. “Art can promote students’ development of self-cognition and creativity, which are keys to personal happiness.” This is their education belief.

Aalto University

Finland’s higher education is the nation’s leading innovation force. The famous Helsinki University and Aalto University ranked high in global basic researches and applied researches, while they cooperate deeply with the developing industry, becoming the technology center of Finland and the Nordic area. Aalto University established flexible interdisciplinary education mode and education platform that deeply combines production, studies, and research. The high-technology park locates just beside the campus, ensuring maximum collaboration between business and school.

Applying visualization in the “Development of Future” workshop
©Tiina Laurila

In the everchanging world where a new cycle of technology revolution is taking place, it is estimated that 50% of the current vocation will be replaced by machines. To cultivate human talents that adapt to the world becomes the world’s focus. In this event, we invited Tiina Laurila, who is the Head of the Creative Curriculum Development of Tongji College of Design and Innovation and Tongji Huangpu School of Design and Innovation (high school). She has rich experiences of designing interdisciplinary curriculum at Aalto University, Helsinki University, Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture. Based on her personal experiences on education, she is going to share her perspective on how to encounter the challenges in this globalizing era, and how to improve students’ innovation and creativity in different period.

About the Guest

Tiina Laurila

An Associate Professor and Senior Adviser with the College of D&I, Tongji University, responsible for the creative curriculum development with the Tongji-Huangpu School of Design & Innovation, a new initiative of the Tongji College of D&I and Huangpu Area Education Bureau. In Finland she works as a Project Producer of the Creative Campus Arabia Project - an expert task as an adviser and developer of new learning environments and networks. Tiina has a MSc in Chemistry and an MA in Design. She is with rich experiences od designing sustainable curriculum and managing training programs for teachers. During her work, she developed her unique perspective on education in Finland and China.