Finnish nightmares

When it comes to teaching methods, the Dutchies seem to be very keen on group work.
Illustration: Henk van Ruitenbeek

When it comes to teaching methods, the Dutchies seem to be very keen on group work. Something that is considered to be the ultimate Finnish nightmare appears to be something very mundane here. 

In the North, group work is usually implemented only when it’s absolutely necessary for the task itself. And even then it sends cringes down the Scandinavian spine. Here, it feels like group work is the primary method of learning, and also done ‘purely for the sake of it’. Sometimes the end product seems to be even less important than the interactive process of working on it. 

 It feels like group work is the primary method of learning 


Here, group members seem to feel responsible for the entire group task, whereas group assignments back home are basically just individual parts brought together. Most importantly, in the North, commenting on someone else’s part of the work would be considered as stepping on their toes. Here people seem to be accustomed to giving feedback to each other, and even quite critical comments are tolerated well.

For the Dutch, opposing opinions and occasional debates seem to be as humdrum as their lunch sandwiches. It’s still a big ask for a reserved Finn to cope with the endless group work, the wrangling over visions, and the flood of feedback. Let alone the lunch sandwiches…

Annie Sallyla, MSc student of Nutrition and Health from Finland

Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience going Dutch? Send it in! Describ an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefly. 300 words max. Send it to resource@wur.nl and earn twenty-five euros and Dutch candy.

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