Teaching in Finland – Part 2: How we went about it


In my first post on this topic I wrote about how a chance conversation with the host of a study visit led to a really nice teaching project with Kainuu Vocational College (KAO) in Finland.

The main topic of this post is the way that the project moved from idea to something more concrete.

This is post is an overview of the more technical considerations like lining up the course structure with the requirements of a range of curricula. Yes, it’s at least as much fun as it sounds……..

At the time of writing I plan two more posts: One looking at how the course went day by day and another on “Lessons Learned”.

The latter will try and answer the question “with what I now know having run this course, how should I have run it“.

Keeping it simple 

As is often the way with development work many hours and days of work eventually boiled down to nice simple course specification document.

This set out all the traditional stuff like aims & objectives, risks and issues, and learning outcomes.

However it also gave guidance on the approach that I thought would be required to keep a class of 16-18 year old vocational students interested and engaged over a a five day course.

In this case the whole course specification took just 10 pages.

The “mother” test

I was pleased with the clarity and simplicity of the course specification. My rule of thumb is that if such a document is complex and hard to follow it probably hasn’t been thought through as well a it could have been.

Mum swimming with dolphins in America
Mum swimming with dolphins in America

The test I like to apply is “could my mother have understood this”.

This might seem like a bit of a strange idea. After all, what could a lady well into her 80s possibly know about what I am doing?

This is the point. Often such documents are read by busy people who may not have a detailed understanding of the topic.

The job of the writer is to make it as easy a possible for the reader to find and make sense of the information they need to make a decision.

The way I look at it is this: if my late mum (Hi Mum – I’m still thinking of you) could understand what I wrote then so could a busy Chief Exec.

Payment by the page?

Continue reading “Teaching in Finland – Part 2: How we went about it”

Teaching in Finland – Part 1: How it started


This is the story of one of those wonderful projects, the sort that come about by chance but turn out out to really useful and great fun.

It’s the sort of project that shows that no matter how much you plan there is still a lot to be said for keeping your eyes open and making your own luck.

As I note on my home page I started my first business, Sapience Consulting, about 18 months ago as a straightforward labour market research and business consultancy.


My old company website gives a flavour of what it was set up to do.
It has a lot about tools and techniques but with hindsight it seems rather short of hard detail about what benefits a potential customer can expect from using them.

That recent realisation led me to set up Windmill Insight Solutions ltd which is is very much aimed at helping people and organisations achieve good things.

If you has asked me at the time I was setting up sapience Consulting whether I would now expect to be packing to go off to Finland for a week to teach entrepreneurship to a group of young Finns on vocational tourism course, I would probably have suggested that you had been out in the sun for too long.

However, it happened and this blog is a way of sharing with you the events that lead up to it and how it all unfolded.

March 2011: The beginnings

Continue reading “Teaching in Finland – Part 1: How it started”

How I escaped a life of grind

Looking back

Sitting here today with two successful careers behind me and another in progress it’s easy to forget that life wasn’t always so rosy.

In this post I will be writing about the shock of moving from the nice comfortable world of education to the rather less forgiving world at work.

School – the good old days?

At school I had real status as the football playing uber-geek, excelling at science and maths while also playing football for the school first team.

At this time I had credibility with the teachers, winning the chemistry prize three years in a row, while earning the respect of my peers by playing for the football first team a year ahead of schedule.

Surely, I thoughts, with a record like that any employer would see my value and promote me accordingly. As we will see, it didn’t quite work out like that.

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