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Maarit Rossi

- Paths to Math, Finland
Maarit Rossi was nominated for the Global Teacher Prize 2016 and she was chosen as one of the top ten best teachers in the world
Maarit Rossi was nominated for the Global Teacher Prize 2016 and she was chosen as one of the top ten best teachers in the world

What are the key challenges in teaching math in Finland and globally?

The challenges in teaching math are global ones - something I learned during the Global Teacher Prize Awards. Students aren't motivated, and in some cases they even hate math. I meet a lot of adults who tell me how much they dislike the subject. This means there is a lot to change in teaching math in Finland and globally.

On a positive note, we do see a lot of these changes happening in mathematics all around. What needs to change in addressing the motivation problems is the structure of the lessons. The lessons are too stiff and they always progress the same way. Often the lessons are too short to trial versatile teaching methods. Learning material might be limited and teaching methods narrow. Math needs to be more social, not just numbers, but relatable to the life of the students. We still have a lot of work to do.

Teachers are highly skilled, which is the wonderful aspect of it. It is possible to change the way we educate and for Finland to make the top list in the field yet again.

What kind of changes can teachers achieve with their teaching?

At this moment I am touched by how social and global young people today are. The fact that we can produce global citizens in Finnish schools is interesting to me. It is so important for students to understand the changes happening in the world and to be prepared to face challenges that may arise rather than fearing them.

In math, students may be able to research issues like recycling locally or globally - all as part of learning STEM. Students may be able to use the tools given to them to solve these issues for a good environment and make a change in the world.

What is the best motivation for teachers to develop themselves professionally?

My personal motivator is the pedagogical freedom us teachers have in Finland - we are trusted. I have been lucky to have had a superior who has trusted me. I have been able to produce my own learning material and trial it. There has never been any doubt if I’m following the national core curriculum or not. Parents have also had great faith in my work. These are the things that have really motivated me in my profession.

Another thing that motivates me is global education. As a young teacher I went to Hungary. I have been involved in international projects like Comenius. I don't think it's good to go in too deep in your own classroom, but rather be open to collaborate with colleagues and schools locally or internationally as a means to gather great educational ideas to apply in your own work. Everyone has something to give and to learn from others.

Content of the interview HundrED