Me & MyCity: A Positive Prelude to Working Life
Finland’s Me & MyCity program offers middle school students an intensive, day-long simulation of what it means to be a professional, consumer, and citizen.
Me & MyCity is an internationally-recognized, award-winning education innovation designed for the Finnish primary school curriculum. The program is built on a unique concept: a study module with a learning environment that focuses on entrepreneurship, the economy, and society for sixth-grade students aged 12 and 13. This learning environment is a miniature town where students work in a profession, function as consumers and citizens, and experience what it means to be part of society.
Society on a Sixth-Grade Scale
The Me & MyCity study module includes a training day for teachers, learning materials based on the Finnish national curriculum, and a visit to the Me & MyCity learning environment.
The teacher training day is designed to help teachers experience the ten-lesson study module that their students will complete before they actually visit the simulated learning environment. During this training, the teachers develop ideas about how to make these ten lessons more interactive and how to link them to the familiar society in which their students live. Many times, teachers have given us feedback after the training about how useful it was for them to hear and learn about entrepreneurship, the economy, and society. Many have said that they do not have enough of this kind of knowledge.
For the students, this ten-lesson study module is preparation for a much-anticipated day of intensive role-play. Among other activities, they complete a job application and job interview, create rules for their community, and learn about salaries, taxation, and advertising. During the study module, students start to understand their own role as a part of the community and gain information about the economy and different organizations within everyday society.
When students visit the Me & MyCity learning environment, they enter a 500-square-meter miniature town, which includes business premises for 15-20 companies and its own custom-designed banking system. For one day, reserved well in advance as part of the program, a group of 70 visiting students will work in professions, earn salaries, and act as consumers and members of their own society. A day in Me & MyCity is based on a pre-planned script, and each student's profession has its own job description. The pedagogical role-play is always adapted to reflect the local business life of the community where the children live with their families and attend school.
A Partnership for Education
The first Me & MyCity program began operating in 2010. As of 2015, there are eight such programs around Finland. It reaches 70 percent of our nation's sixth grade students during the school year. Me & MyCity has a high impact on the Finnish education system and society, in no small part because the simulated world of the learning environment always represents the real world. The companies are real companies who actually operate and hire in the children's world outside of school. The role-plays, which the program plans in cooperation with these companies, are modeled on real jobs that the students might one day have -- or that their parents already have.
The project is funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (25 percent), local authorities and municipalities (25 percent), and approximately 120 companies and various foundations (50 percent). Me & MyCity activities are coordinated and carried out by the Economic Information Office (TAT) located in Helsinki.
While Me & MyCity still operates exclusively in Finland, the study module is flexible enough that it can be adapted to different regions and societies. Indeed, the program's 2013 recognition by the European Commission and 2014 award from the World Innovation Summit for Education (in Doha, Qatar) shows that many countries are interested in this concept. Modifying Me & MyCity to other education systems and societies would not change its basic concept, which is as follows:
The Me & MyCity study module fosters entrepreneurial skills and attitudes among students and offers them positive experiences of working life. Students emerge from the program feeling that they have learned about how enterprises operate, have developed financial skills, and have gained a stronger understanding of cooperation skills and customer service within their enterprises.
These qualities are just as important as more traditionally academic subject matter. We should make sure that all children learn what it means to contribute to and thrive in their society.
Editor’s Note: For more information about the WISE initiative’s focus on global innovations in education, visit their website.