We first met Saku in Moscow in September where he was explaining his new education initiative, then, as a featured speaker at Slush 2016 in Helsinki last week it made sense to follow up on how it was progressing. He is passionate about the importance of education and the positive impact it can have on the future progress and development for those who are able to receive creative, stimulating empowering educational experiences. It might be considered an interesting area for a serially successful Finnish entrepreneur to turn to, when you consider Finland is already frequently ranked as the #1 country in the world for it’s school education system already. However the passion for innovation and improvements that is clear when speaking with Tuominen is perhaps the reason why the Finnish education system has remained top of the rankings for so long – because they are not satisfied with keeping the status quo, not even a successful one.
When talking with Saku it is clear that there are many, clearly identified ways in which things can be done better. The whole concept of HundRED is to find 100 examples of best practice that already exist and showcase them to a wider audience. Not all may be applicable for every other school, but the idea is to create a smart go-to tool box to enable other schools and teachers to leverage upon the insights and successes that have already worked.
When you try to examine why Finland’s education system has been delivering such great results, it can be hard to conclude exactly what the reasons are. Children start school later, are in school less time, have less homework, and less year on year testing. All of which differs from many of the other countries to be found making up the rest of the top 10, and beyond of educational country tables. Saku is clear that culture has a factor to play in this success. “Many countries ask us how to be successful too, and want to achieve similar results, but when we tell them that it requires implementing all of the elements that we use – including less homework, shorter days, more personal freedom – at this point they say, ‘no, we’re not looking for that part’, but we explain that you can’t achieve one without the other”.
Saku also compared Finland to Ireland speaking about the challenges of being a small country, and the challenges this brings of being a ‘little brother’ relative to larger neighbours. While this can be a challenge, it also means you are looking outward very early on “don’t wait, try things out. We want to support the school age group, including 15 to 18. To encourage them to do entrepreneurship and business development. We are launching an online entrepreneurship course, with the materials online, this way it will be possible to reach many more people than if it was just in one school. “
“With HundRED it is a process. It if it is in Ireland then we will want it to have Irish examples, local companies, it will be an empowering process as people find and share local examples. Schools are not currently very global, but we want them to be and believe they will benefit by doing so. Overall we are aiming at the K12 group, from age 6 to 18.”
Here is an explanation from the HundRED website
The world of education is full of great innovations. Unfortunately, they seldom manage to spread around the world. HundrED´s mission is to help schools change. We do this by seeking and sharing inspiring innovations in K12 education.
During the first HundrED Project, we are seeking 100 great innvations from Finland and 100 from the world. In addition to this, we are interviewing 100 education innovators about their vision for the future of education.
HundRED is an interesting initiative and we hope it continues to drive innovation and considered re-evaluation in all of our schools and educational systems. Even here, in Ireland, it seemed like a, small, positive step, to have the old desks replaced with new furniture to enable leaving circles. To help encourage and facilitate the benefits of peer to peer based learning as well as the traditional one to many methods of instruction that have prevailed for so long.
Finally here is a clip from him in action at last year’s 2015 Slush event