Proud to be a teacher in the Happiest Country in the World

Today, on March 20, is the United Nation’s annual International Day Of Happiness. The World Happiness Report has also just been released. According to this report, Finland is the happiest country in the world 2021 fourth year in a row. What delightful news these are also for us Finnish teachers! Like everyone else during this pandemic time we have tried our best to take care of ourselves, our loved ones as well as our jobs. We have worked hard trying to figure out how to help our students and colleagues despite all the obstacles. We have been very lucky to be able to teach most of the year pretty normally face to face. Only the last two weeks have been mostly distance learning time in our lower secondary schools during this semester. We can’t be certain of the length of this distance period right now but we are really hoping it won’t last longer than the planned three weeks. Motivating yourself and your students has now been more important than ever.

In Finland we have a strong autonomy of teachers. We can freely choose our teaching methods that we use in lessons. We are trained to reflect on ourselves as teachers and find out and use our own strengths. Relatedness is neither forgotten. It has been a pleasure to notice that especially during the last two weeks Finnish teachers have been there for each other using several motivational actions in order to get the best out of the circumstances. There has been so much help available as well as ready made materials and ideas. Teachers have shown support to each other and given their best to be social despite the distances. We haven’t for example realized before how many teachers possess pets in our schools. So many pictures of dogs in social media among colleagues, so many smiley emojis. We have so much to be grateful for.

During this semester, MOTI Education teachers have collected ideas about motivation. All of the teachers in MOTI Education have been testing different motivational tasks and styles for years as we have searched for the best atmosphere and learning results with our students. It has been delightful to notice that we have been able to adopt theories that we used to study in the Finnish teacher training. One of the most known motivational theory by psychologists Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan is based on an idea of the three psychological basic needs “autonomy, competence and relatedness” and is called self-determination theory. The Finnish philosopher Frank Martela has compared self-determination theory and its three basic needs as key elements for happiness in life generally. Martela bases his opinion on hundreds of researches and is convinced that the schools and educators who are able to support these three psychological principles are having better learning results among their students. And not only more profound learning results but following these three needs is more likely to bring up more active citizens and increase happiness of people and natural well-being.

The Finnish national core curriculum was renewed last time in 2016 and one of the main goals was to concentrate on increasing the motivation and joy in learning. It will be done by encouraging the students to take an active role in their own learning and increasing the students’ thoughts of what is the relevance of learning and provide experiences of success for every student. These are all ideas that can be found on motivational theories. We have been finding ways to implement all these in practice. Our first online course “Motivation and Well-being” starts the series of short courses that are showing and teaching those practices that we have found to be the best ones in our own classrooms. We are proud to open this first course for you to explore. Let us hope that it motivates you and brings you some happiness.