The Arabia Comprehensive School in Helsinki has launched a new tool for design learning known as ARMU. The school has adopted ARMU in teaching during the current autumn season. The tool is a teaching aid developed by three crafts teachers of the school. It offers teachers instruments and models for the use of design in various subject studies.
Crafts teachers Anni Valasmo, Pilvi Ahtinen and Juuso Laine developed ARMU for their colleagues as a teaching aid that promotes increasingly design-oriented learning. The Arabia Comprehensive School is one of the schools in Helsinki that applies the methods of design in education.
“We sought to make design more visible at our school and also to ease the adoption of design learning in education overall,” Laine says, explaining the ARMU development team’s goals.
The ARMU website (available in Finnish only) presents the methods of design learning and design goals for each grade. The website also includes a materials bank that gives recommendations for the use of design in various subject studies and for improving everyday routines.
Learners are acquainted with design thinking with the help of ARMU A, a design process model developed specifically for the school. ARMU A divides the design process into six stages: (1) problem, (2) brainstorming and ideation, (3) plan, (4) getting to work, (5) further thinking and (6) evaluation. A copy of the ARMU A process model is displayed in every classroom of the Arabia Comprehensive School.
ARMU was released at the beginning of October, and it has been received enthusiastically.
“ARMU has encouraged teachers to use the methods of design in their work, and it has eased the process of integrating these methods into learning,” Laine affirms.
“Learners have been quick to adopt the elements of the design process presented in ARMU, and they can already recognize the design process stage that they’re in at each moment.”
So far the materials of ARMU have been used only at the Arabia Comprehensive School, but the goal is to develop instruments for design learning applicable at all schools.
Helsinki has several teachers and schools dedicated to design, and the City of Helsinki’s investment in design education has also roused international interest.
Design learning is creative problem solving that crosses subject boundaries. It provides learners with tools to meet the challenges of everyday life, to think boldly, and to find new and creative solutions. Design learning provides learners with skills for the future, which they can use to strengthen their wellbeing and the wellbeing of others.
ARMU teaching aid for design learning (site in Finnish only)
Photo: Crafts teachers Anni Valasmo, Juuso Laine and Pilvi Ahtinen and Juuso Laine from the Arabia Comprehensive School in Helsinki.