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Learning from Animals

Students at Vesala Secondary School take care of an average of fifty greenhouse plants and animals every week. Most of the school’s extra-curricular activities and learning revolve around this activity. By caring for animals, students learn multiple valuable skills that they can carry into activities outside of school. Studies also show this to be an effective way to reduce exclusion.

What are the goals you are looking to achieve with the experiment?

The goal is to observe what amazing things can be achieved when humans and animals interact with one another. We want to study how these interactions bring together people of all ages and how they encourage students to engage in initiative actions. The goal is to make students active learners and to develop their sense of responsibility. We also want to create a functional collaborative network consisting of a variety of entities where everyone wins. Our aim is to increase well-being and school satisfaction. We want to make this kind of activity and networking an essential part of everyday school life.

Is this a new experiment or is this based on an existing one?

The greenhouse located in the school was already built in 1991 and the animals have also been with us since the beginning. However our work has just recently been opened to the variety of entities and the collaboration between elderly people is new. Also the help of Helsinki’s Youth Department has enabled us to let our students work as active instructors in this process.

How will the experiment be scheduled and how will it be put into practice?

The experiment will begin during the beginning of the school year in 2016 and it will continue on until the end of the school year. This experiment will be a part of everyday school life that we will improve and develop through the course of it.

How does this experiment encourage schools to change?

This experiment demonstrates how a functional learning model can be put to practice on a large scale in schools and how schools can support the excitement and build student agency by collaborating together with third sector entities.

Contact Information

School(s): Vesala Secondary School

Contact person: Juha Juvonen

Contact email: juha.juvonen@hel.fi

Partnership(s): City of Helsinki's Youth Department, Childrens Gardening Society (Lasten ja nuorten puutarhayhdistys), Korkeasaari Zoo and University of Helsinki Department of Teacher Education.

Helsinki Finland
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