Walk, bike, ski, or sled?

With Helsinki being rainy and gray at this time of year, and missing all of the snow heaps my friends at home in Boston have been enjoying, I had to head north for a taste of winter. I traveled to the cities of Oulu and Rovaniemi to visit two schools. I’ll be writing some posts about the lessons I observed, but first I’ll share what I saw kids doing when they weren’t learning academic subjects.

It’s possible to take an overnight train to Rovaniemi, but I opted for the much faster plane ride.

Upon arriving at the Metsokangas School in Oulu, the first thing I noticed were the skis. It looked like I might be at a cross country ski center in Vermont. But then I saw the bikes. I’m 100 miles (160 km) south of the Arctic Circle, and kids are biking to school in February. Wow. It was quite a warm day, hovering right around freezing, but most bikes in the US at this time of year are stored in garages or basements, covered with a layer of dust, and in need of a tire pump. Most American elementary school students don’t even bike to school when it’s warm out. And the streets and sidewalks in Oulu were were sheets of ice flanked by huge snow piles.

IMG_5318
Skis for gym class

Continue reading