Helsinki Design Award granted to phenomenon-based learning – Helsinki as the model city

On 13 September, Liisa Pohjolainen, Head of the Helsinki Education Sector, was granted the esteemed Helsinki Design Award for promoting phenomenon-based learning. The award was granted at Helsinki Design Week’s Muoto Gala.

According to the Helsinki Design Award jury, Liisa Pohjolainen has played a central role in implementing phenomenon-based learning in the schools of Helsinki. Meeting the challenge of our time, this learning method explores true life phenomena by combining various subjects. Learning is communal and utilizes digital tools.

All school levels in Helsinki emphasise phenomenon-based learning and the entire city as a learning space. Upper secondary schools of Helsinki introduced phenomenon-based learning already in 2013. Now, as the curricula have been reformed, it is implemented in all comprehensive schools, upper secondary schools, and vocational education, and the new early education plan includes phenomenon-based learning as well. Phenomenon-based learning means the forming of teaching in a way that allows the student’s own activity, communal construction of information, the learning of various skills, and the natural use of technology to be used as means of enriching learning. 

Pohjolainen is happy about the award, and hopes that it will encourage schools and educational institutes to dare to implement phenomenon-based learning as an increasingly extensive part of their teaching. Her future vision is that every time something interesting happens in the world, schools would be able to address the phenomenon quickly and agilely, allowing the students’ understanding of the world, motivation for learning, and skills to increase. 

‘We wish to offer children and young people the chance for as good learning as possible, and phenomenon-based learning is an excellent opportunity. It is flexible and open to change. It emphasises communality, cooperation skills, and the implementation of information. It allows us to reach the core of a new kind of learning process,’ Pohjolainen summarises.

Understanding everyday phenomena, problem-solving skills, and communal development are essential for design, as well. Acquiring these skills already in school forms a solid basis for Finnish design in the future.

Developing learning by doing together 

In Helsinki, schools and teachers can ask for help and support for their phenomenon-based learning process from a phenomenon-based learning team formed of expert teachers. The teachers are offered continuing training to increase their knowledge about phenomenon-based learning. On 29 November, the Education Sector will organise an education event on phenomenon-based learning, open to everyone. The event will take place at the EduLab building of the Education Sector building, at Töysänkatu 2, from 3 to 5 pm. Welcome!

Learn more about phenomenon-based learning
(video in Finnish)