NAD Finland & Sweden Educational and Cultural Tour—A Reflection
director, southern union conference
Debra Fryson has worked for the SDA church for almost 40 years. She has taught students from Kindergarten through college, has served as a Library Media Specialist at the elementary, academy, and college level, and has served in a variety of administrative roles at the conference, union, and division levels of the church. She currently works as Director of Education for the Southern Union Conference in Norcross, GA. Debra is blessed with four wonderful daughters and six fantastic grandchildren.
nternational rankings of student achievement identify Finland as a high-performing country, more often than not outranking the United States, so when NAD announced a study tour to Finland and Sweden I was excited for the chance to discover the phenomenal things that were happening in classrooms there. Our visit included public and Adventist pre-schools, elementary, and secondary schools. Many of the things we observed were tried and true best practices that we have known from the inception of Adventist education.
I observed in early childhood centers a philosophy that focused on the importance of children learning through play. One remarkable preschool in Sweden is an outdoor school where classrooms have no walls and children learn through an exploration of nature, God’s lesson book. In elementary and high schools, teachers go deep rather than wide as they cover instructional content. They also understand the importance of brain breaks. After 45-60 minutes of instruction, students must go outside in the fresh air for 15 minutes and engage in some form of physical activity or play. Manual arts are also an integral part of the curriculum. I observed third and fourth grade students being taught to sew and knit while sixth grade students applied math, science, hand-eye-coordination, literacy, team work, art and other skills in woodworking class.
Throughout the NAD Finland & Sweden tour I saw living examples of principles and best practices our church was given in the early 1900s through the inspired writings of Ellen White. As a result, I have committed to renewed study of Education and Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students. I also seek divine guidance to implement these tried and true best practices in a way that empowers students to excel in faith, learning, and service.
Finland & Sweden From Our Eyes
NADE Tour Debrief Hightlights