Chinese future kindergarten teachers growing through an online course
Tianjin City Vocational College is a new partner of TAMK. In 2019, TAMK experts were invited to Tianjin, China for an international early childhood education forum and a short training course. Later that year, presidents of the two universities, Markku Lahtinen and Yan Li met in Beijing and discussed cooperation possibilities between the two universities.
Tianjin City Vocational College is renowned for its early childhood education and older care and has educated young skilled workforce for the region. This year, the two institutions continued cooperation online via a Finnish Early Childhood Education course by TAMK Global Education.
45 students of early childhood education degree programme attended the course and were divided into five working groups. They met three times a week with Finnish experts via Zoom. The intensive course covered aspects in Finnish ECEC that are of great interest to Chinese audience: Highlights, Pedagogies, Parents Cooperation and Learning Environment in Finnish ECEC. All the topics are a combination of theory and practice, with two virtual visits to Finnish kindergartens！
The online course was well-designed and organised. Students learnt with carefully selected reading and video materials before the live sessions and reflected with the tool of a learning diary. Five staff members assisted the course, including three from Tianjin and two from TAMK.
New to Finnish ECEC, the students showed great interest by asking numerous questions after every session. In the beginning, students were reserved and even a bit nervous when presenting ideas or group discussions. It seemed they were not used to the Finnish way of student-centered learning. The pedagogical love and patience from the Finnish experts helped the students build confidence gradually. In the last few sessions, they became even more active and were willing to comment on other groups’ presentation and ask questions to challenge other groups or even the Finnish experts!
It was rewarding to see the change in the short time period of six weeks since everything was online.
In the end of the course, the students presented their Dream Kindergarten project. Their Dream Kindergartens consisted of Chinese and Finnish elements, including the child-centered pedagogy, flexible evaluation methods, individual plans and more. When Yan Li, the president of Tianjin City Vocational College visited the class during the last session, the students could not wait to share with her their virtual to Finnish kindergartens!
According to the students, they are very impressed by the forest kindergarten in Finland. Some students thanked the Finnish experts for always answering patiently their questions because the answers always gave great insights. Almost all students look forward to visiting Finland in the near future!
Written by Stella Xu