Today we have two guests: Andrei Voronine, the founder of the next-generation school NYsKOOL, and Minna Suominen, the Head of Education at NYsKOOL.
Tell me, Andrei, how did you come up with the idea to create NYsKOOL?
My daughter is nine years old, and we travel a lot. Ever since she started school (and that was before the pandemic), I have been thinking how great it would be if she could switch to online learning while travelling and a week later join her class in person again.
I believe that travelling and seeing other cultures is as important as academic learning. Now, post-pandemic, tens of millions of parents travel with their kids around the world doing home and world-schooling.
They need a quality education for their kids without sacrificing their freedom of movement. Online schools are great, but children need social interaction and emotional intelligence development.
Another part of the idea reflects the rigid structure of the traditional school approach. Children are grouped in classes and each class studies the same subjects at the same pace. One of the parents I talked to said: “Only a traditional school could assume that a group of 25 kids aged 11 have the exact same interests, learn at the exact same speed, and should do everything together! Why can’t schools acknowledge that children are individuals and not puppets?”
So, I thought, is it possible to build a school that provides top-quality education and combines it with total flexibility an individual approach but keeps social interactions and hands-on activities that are so important for kids?
This is how NYsKOOL idea was born – the globally distributed hybrid school.
Minna, how do you combine freedom of movement with quality teaching and enabling social interactions?
We teach in three main ways: live online classes with hands-on activities that children really enjoy; self-learning with engaging and fun apps with teacher’s supervision and hands-on activities in the physical learning hubs. Children also have sports activities and go to play outside.
Andrei, what’s a learning hub?
It is a space where children can learn together face-to-face, spending the day in activities and games, joint projects, accompanied by competent teachers. We are building a network of learning hubs around the world. Families can move around, while kids will continue learning with the same teachers and classmates joining local learning hubs for in-person activities. Through our partner, we already offer 10 learning hubs in the USA.
Is it true that right now you are opening a learning hub in Barcelona?
Yes, we are happy to share the wonderful news – very soon, by the end of October, our first European learning hub will open in the Poblenou neighbourhood in Barcelona. The address is C/ de Pere IV, 192, 08005. It will be located next to a large playground, where children will enjoy playing outside, and a large sports complex with a swimming pool.
Minna, which curriculum do children follow at NYsKOOL?
We follow the world-famous Finnish curriculum. This is the only educational system that not only produces the highest academic results but also happy children. Finnish children study fewer hours than in other developed countries and have almost no homework. Yet they achieve higher academic results than their counterparts in other countries who are pushed to study long hours. And we want to bring this magic to all the children in the world.
I have long experience in teaching in Finland and have developed curriculums for my municipality. Hopefully, my experience will help other teachers in NYsKOOL to better understand and apply the Finnish model.
Minna, what other aspects of the Finnish educational model are different from others?
In Finland, we move away from teaching subjects, which are too theoretical for children. Instead, we focus on the development of what we call transversal skills. They are:
- Thinking and learning to learn
- Cultural competence, interaction, and self-expression
- Taking care of oneself and managing daily life
- ICT competence (confident and critical use of electronic media for work, leisure, and communication)
- Work-life competence and entrepreneurship
- Participation, involvement and building a sustainable future
Minna, what grades do you teach in NYsKOOL now and what diploma, if any, you will provide?
At the moment we have started with a primary school for ages 6-11 but will be adding grades to provide a full school curriculum to the age of 18. The Finnish curriculum is very similar to International Baccalaureate (IB) and we already follow IB standards so that NYsKOOL graduates will be able to receive an IB diploma.
Andrei, choosing a school is a big decision for parents. How do you help them to decide?
It is a very important decision, especially when parents consider switching from a traditional school. We are happy to arrange calls and in-person meetings to answer questions and do in-depth interviews with parents and children before they join NYsKOOL. But the best way is to try! We offer free open classes both online and in-person at our Barcelona hub, once it is open at the end of October.
Interviewer: Andrei, Minna, thank you for sharing this new approach to education and your exciting news about the opening of the Barcelona hub. Good luck!
To find out more, please:
Come to our website www.nyskool.org
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