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Sail For Good

location_on Helsinki, Finland

School on a sailboat

School on a sailboat is a flexible model of individual learning and promotes phenomenon-based learning in varied environments. In the case study presented, a child finishes their compulsory education using distance learning due to their family's travels. The whole world is the child's classroom and every moment is a learning experience!

Finland 100

Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

Finland 100

2016

Established

-

Children/users

1

Countries
Updated
November 22nd, 2022
The whole world is a huge classroom and there are learning possibilities everywhere!
- Tuomo Meretniemi, the skipper

About the innovation

What is Sail for Good?

Concerns about their child finishing compulsory education may put a stop to a family's dream of working abroad or travelling the world. People often think that school is the only way to learn. However more and more parents homeschool their children, sometimes on the road.

Distance learning or parent-led learning provide versatile and flexible ways for individuals to learn. These methods allow the child to learn from their own experiences and the world around them.

School on a sailboat is an experimental education project where basic education is taught inside a sailboat far away from classrooms and teachers. Phenomenon-based learning forms the basis for this type of individual learning, every sight and experience during the journey can be studied. The goal for this model is to aid those who are unable to participate in traditional schooling or wish to find a different style of education.

Foregoing traditional lessons, this method is built on the principle that we are actually learning all the time, so education doesn’t have to be in a classroom. The educational material may arise from everyday activities and experiences, including cooking, navigating and different cultures encountered along the way. This allows the learning process to be effortlessly multidisciplinary and topical. Ideally every port provides a novel learning opportunity that is also applicable to the national curriculum.

Because the schedule and progress in studies are flexible they serve to encourage the student to extend themselves. Technology enhances learning and motivates the children to study independently.

This model allows families to play a more active role in their children's studies. Families can become even closer when parents learn right along with the children and learning becomes a family project. School-based learning may be replaced in part or entirely by this method. 

This innovation strives to prove that efficient individual learning methods glean exceptional learning results.

The student's progress in their studies and knowledge are measured using the Finnish national core curriculum, Sanoma Pro published study materials and existing Finnish tests.

After the first year, the results are very promising: Studies have progressed faster than the average expectation for the age-group. Finnish teachers have been consulted during the year on Finnish and math, for example.

Sail for Good (SFG) is a project conducted during 2016–2022. The project features a prototype of the digital school of the future which operates on a sailboat hosting three siblings. Many innovations have been studied and developed during the project such as new teaching methods for individual and participatory distance learning. In addition, the participants have experimented with smart learning platforms and innovative teaching materials. Global learning assessment has been tested, as well.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Innovativeness

Turning the whole world into a classroom that inspires the child to learn under their parents' guidance.

Impact

Changes in technology and lifestyle mean that travelling for work and pleasure is increasingly common. More flexible learning methods are required to meet the needs of families who move from place to place.

Scalability

Parents don't necessarily need teacher qualifications but instead preparation skills, curiosity and patience.

Steps

Making arrangements
First, find out your country's requirements for homeschooling.

According to the Finnish National Agency for Education, compulsory education may be carried out in the home without a permit from the authorities. The child's guardian may make the decision and arrangements for the schooling. They must also ensure appropriate progress in studies. The municipality may appoint a teacher researcher to support the child's education and supervise progress.

The School on a Sailboat project did not assign a teacher researcher because overseeing was deemed too difficult due to the geographical locations. The parents were responsible for the education and appropriate progress in studies.

To adopt this model, the parents must truly take responsibility for their child's schooling and maintain their motivation in a positive atmosphere, as teaching one's own child can bring its own unique challenges. 

 

Planning the education
School on a sailboat provides a flexible way to schedule and organize the education because learning is not limited to the traditional classroom – it happens everywhere!

You can set family ground-rules for the schooling and refer back to them if necessary. The child should be aware of the schedule set for every subject and what their goals are. This way the child can play an active role in their own learning process. 

Curriculum and learning goals

School on a sailboat is based on the Finnish national core curriculum. Before anything else you should take a look at your country's core curriculum and learning materials together with your child. This allows them to see the bigger picture and how individual tasks connect to it.

You should make sure that the child knows the goals set for their grade, but also for the following grades. This way the child may advance in their studies faster than their peers. The child will also choose the day's subjects themselves and the parents' job is to help and supervise their learning.

 

Schedule

Every day is different with this type of education because it does not follow a set curriculum. The goals for the instruction are determined for a six month learning period or the whole year. This way the child may learn at their own pace.

If a subject is especially interesting to the child they should be encouraged to see how far they can manage on their own. It is important to motivate children and relate the education back to their lives. This improves learning results and creates a meaningful process.

Every school day will consist of a few traditional lessons with books or digital material and the rest of the schooling will be more informal in real-life learning environments. There are no summer vacations because the study rhythm is different while traveling.

The school on a sailboat initiative introduced a score chart for reading, writing and math. Awarding points for more uninspiring subjects motivates the children.

Useful digital learning tools
Different learning applications and online materials are a great resource for learning alongside traditional textbooks and teaching material.

You should download applications directly onto your devices before the trip so that they are available for offline use: (free) wifi may be scarce on long trips.

Technology is a tool, not a learning method in itself. It should be used for research and improving existing skills, in other words, to support learning.

School on a sailboat used Claned learning platform as well as Edison platform to communicate with the comprehensive school of Veikkola.

Different learning applications can support learning in various subjects including Finnish, English, geography, biology and math.

Applications used during this project:

  • Wondermath
  • Smartkid
  • Dragonbox
  • MentalMath
  • Fun English / Espanjol
  • Ekapeli
  • Geo Atlas
  • Flag Quizz
Using the surrounding world for phenomenon-based learning
Children often think aloud and ask questions about different phenomena. These provide a learning opportunity for the whole family to find out more about the subject. Every moment and every location can present a topic for learning.

Traveling the world shows children that people live in various ways, speak different languages and believe in different things. Children can get to know these things in an uncomplicated way right where they exist. This allows them to make connections and form a more  complete picture of the world in their head. They learn that things are not merely theoretical school subjects and they actually connect to things they already know.

Examples of phenomenon-based methods for math, Finnish, geography, languages and physical education:

Math

Math problems should be based on relatable, everyday problems, such as grocery shopping, cooking, navigation and boat maintenance. Books, various games and applications are also utilized.

Example problems:

Sailing revolves around measuring distance, speed, time and using different units. When children ask “Are we there yet?” you can encourage them to predict the time of arrival at your destination.

Sailboats never travel at a steady speed. The speed is defined by the wind speed and direction, as well as the waves. A fun activity for the whole family is to analyze these factors – if the speed remains at six knots the journey will take ten hours, but what if the speed increases?

Cooking teaches the children about chemical reactions. If you're making pancakes, for example, you can measure their area or how many pancakes will come out of the batter. An example math problem: “John is making pancakes. The batter is 1,200 milliliters. One pancake requires 0.6 deciliters batter. How many pancakes can John make?”

Finnish

Reading forms the basis for all learning. The children practice their mother tongue by conversing extensively, analyzing different phenomenon and debating issues on both sides. The students will read dozens of books from various genres as well as magazines in addition to traditional textbooks. Reading tasks have included reviewing books and learning how to give critique.

Children will research their topics online whenever an internet connection is available. After completing a reading task, everyone will analyze the content together and connect it to their previous knowledge. Handwriting skills are practiced by writing log books, shopping lists and letters as well as filling out activity books.

Media education can be taught in the form of filmmaking. The children will make videos about their progress at the school on a sailboat. The children will also learn about social media as a phenomenon as well as its benefits and risks. What exactly happens to a photo or video posted on social media or the internet in general?

Geography, nature, cultures, religions

Humanities and natural sciences are rooted in the world around us. Every country visited is an opportunity to learn about the locals' lives and observe the natural world. Children can even do research on the country's geography, religion, culture and nature in advance.

Trips to the jungle, coral reefs or mangrove forests will provide first-hand experiences of the environment, biodiversity and the effects of global warming.

Example tasks:

Meeting sea creatures in their natural habitat provide a real boost to learning. After encounters with animals and plants children have been truly inspired to do extra research and see nature as a single organism.

Children calculated buildings' ages, researched the size of the Roman Empire and compared Ionic and Corinthian columns in Syracuse, Sicily.

In Barbados the children learnt about sugar cane farming and considered how much sugar is in different candy. Even darker chapters of history, such as slave trading is relevant to discuss in the Caribbean.

Languages

Children learn English in everyday use. Various games and applications enable the practice of pronunciation and spelling. Still, most of the learning is gleaned from meeting local children. These interactions motivate the children as they see that they can communicate in another language.

Nine months out of the coming year will be spent in Spanish speaking countries. Therefore Spanish is a natural addition to the curriculum.

Physical education

Because the school is constantly surrounded by water, it is logical to do water sports. Swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding and acrobatics using the mast form the basis of the PE classes. Local children have provided opportunities to practice soccer and other sports while learning about other cultures.

Assessment
Textbooks and ready-made tests have provided an excellent guide to tracking the children's progress in their studies. Learning can be assessed through self-assessment, teacher assessment as well as placement tests.

Self-assessment

Once a month the child will assess their abilities and motivation. They will assess their skills on reading, writing, math, physical education, music, English and respecting others. The child will determine their own level using the Finnish national core curriculum as a guide.

Reading assessment includes reviewing books the child has read as well as analyzing the narrative voice, characters and the reading experience.

Teacher assessment

The parent or the teacher writes down aspects assessed using the specific curriculum used. The child is assessed daily and their progress is observed and recorded.

Placement tests

Sanoma Pro provides ready-made tests that help parents to track their child's progress. Age appropriate material may be found also from British or Australian resources.

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