Q&A

Center for Solving Global Challenges

Contents

  1. General Questions
  2. Global Challenges
  3. Location and School Property
  4. Learning
  5. Adults
  6. Discipline and Conflicts
  7. School Structure
  8. School Community
  9. Funding
  10. Future Plan

 

 


General Questions

What is the age range of the school?

The school is aimed for students aged 13-17.

Who is eligible to apply for the school?

Anyone who is interested in participating in solving global challenges in a cooperative and open environment

What kind of programs does the school offer?

The school offers three kinds of programs.

  • (Three year high school program with official accreditation system. – This is under consideration)
  • An exchange or gap year program for students who want to fully immerse themselves into this kind of problem-solving work.
  • A one month camp program, which is aimed at homeschoolers or student groups during the school year and for anyone during the summer.
  • A one week visiting experience program for student groups where the students can experience the wide range of work that is being done, get to explore different problem-solving methods and interact with their peers.

What kind of screening process does the school have?

The screening process involves an interview of the student candidate and the family. Key issues include how the family has prepared for the separation and how ready and interested the student is to participate in the study methods of the school.

Who chooses the students?

Students are selected by a panel of teachers, and in future possibly also students.

How does the enrollment process work?

There will be an online application form, which families can fill out. Then the panel will interview the student candidate and the parents and then the panel will make the decision after the application period has ended.

What kind of students will thrive at PANKA?

PANKA is for any student who has a real interest in participating in global problem-solving and basic social skills and support from their parents or guardians.

What kind of qualities, skills and knowledge are required from new students?

Good social skills, reading and writing skills, basic or preferably better than basic computer skills, high interest in learning new things from multiple disciplines.

How will student well-being be taken care of?

The community is an open learning environment with constant communication and development. It will be tough both physically and mentally. This is why there will be plenty of time for the students to talk about their own things and pursue their own interests. Each morning there will be a morning circle where the students can bring up issues that bother them. There will be comprehensive systems to deal with local problems and challenges, especially social ones. As a democratic community it will be constantly evolving to improve and find new ways to deal with questions at hand.

Can I be a student at the school if I have ADD/ADHD or other similar diagnoses?

Mental disabilities may be a problem at the school, but since neither ADD nor ADHD are really classified as mental disabilities but rather disorders and there is great dispute if they exist mainly due to the way the schools are organized, and in other kind of environments they would not cause problems. We believe that this will need to be considered case by case and that such diagnoses will not automatically disable you from attending PANKA. So, please apply and we will see.

Do you accept students with special educational needs?

As with mental disorder diagnoses (above) we need to consider each case individually. Some special needs may be too big and consuming that we would not be able to provide enough support, but if you really want to join our program, please apply and we can look into it.

How much is the tuition?

The estimates at the moment vary between 600 – 1100 € per month.

Are there sponsorship programs available?

We aim to have a sponsorship program.


Global Challenges

Why should children solve global challenges?

Children have a great capacity for creativity and flexibility. We believe that given enough information and support, children can be great problem-solvers.

How are the challenges chosen?

We will start the first school year with a set of pre-selected challenges, but we will also be discussing with the new students and pick new challenges together if necessary. After the school starts, we will be open for new suggestions and try to be sensitive to the changes and new challenges in the world. In the end it is always the school meeting (all school community members together – teachers, staff, students), which will make the decisions.

Can people outside the school suggest challenges?

Yes. We will provide an online platform for this.

How are the results of the research published?

This may change according to the challenges at hand. The working groups can choose their own ways of reporting. The school will have a comprehensive website where the results will most likely be published and with the help of our partner organizations the results will be spread around the world.

Can students in other schools participate in the problem-solving processes and projects?

Yes. We will be streaming our working sessions and others can join through a chat and by joining our online problem-solving platform(s).

How are the students divided into groups to solve problems?

The students can choose which challenges they want to solve and which groups to join. The school meeting will decide how the students are required to participate or if participation will be based on individual choice.


Location and School Property

Where is the school located?

The school is located in Pielavesi municipality, which is located about one hour drive from Kuopio city, which is the 9th biggest city in Finland and is located in the centre of Finland. The school is located by a beautiful lake and surrounded by forest. The nearest village, the Pielavesi village is located about a 15 minute drive from the school.

In what kind of buildings and surroundings is the school located?

We aim to have an inspiring and diverse environment, where the students can work in many ways and have hands-on experiences in many fields of study. We also want to be close to nature so that the students can experience the connection and interdependence with the environment.

See the location page for more details.

How can international students reach the airport?

We will organize transportation.

How will you ensure that the location is safe?

Finland is a very safe place for such a school. As a tight and socially active community, we will quickly find out if there are any external threats and we can react efficiently. Internal conflicts and potentially dangerous situations will be dealt with immediately involving the whole community, which will ensure a positive social pressure to build a safe and responsible environment.


Learning

Are there any lessons at the school?

Lessons can be offered by both teachers and students, but the attendance is always voluntary.

How do the students learn the basics like maths, grammar and science?

Most of the students who attend the school already know the basics and those who still need to do work on these skills, will do so since they will be essential in contributing to the main function of the school. They will have internal motivation to learn the basics since they are essential for functioning in the school. Lessons and support is offered for students if considered useful.

Do you have classrooms?

We have functional rooms, where students can focus on certain studies, e.g. chemistry and physics, biology, etc. In addition we have spaces for working groups.

What do students learn from problem-solving?

Problem Based Learning (PBL) is a recognized educational method where the students engage in real-life problems or challenges and try to solve them using different kinds of problem-solving methods. PBL method is very empowering and practical. Students learn to take charge of their own learning, find meaningful information, cooperation and team working skills, leadership and negotiation skills, and of course they learn about the facts and complexities of these real-life cases.

Are there any tests?

No, unless they support the learning and the problem-solving processes.

How does the school prepare the students to the real life after school?

By supporting them to learn essential skills needed in life, e.g. cooperation, argumentation, information finding, self-directed learning and research skills.

How can the students get into universities or find work after the year programme?

The work at PANKA prepares our students to work in the research field. The publicity the Panka Academy will receive, makes our students interesting candidates for any university.

How easy is it for students to continue their studies in another school?

We offer our students the possibility to get accredited for their work and achievements at the school. We also record all the work and create a comprehensive portfolio for each student. This can easily be transformed into credits in other schools.

How long are the school days?

The students build their own schedule with the help of the staff. Their days can vary from a few hours to double digit hour days. When people are enthusiastic about their work, it doesn’t matter how many hours they spend, it doesn’t feel like a burden to them.

How do students study arts and crafts?

There will be arts, crafts and music rooms available at all times for the students to do creative work. Students are encouraged to use their creativity in multiple ways. Professionals support and guide the students in their work.

What kind of resources are available for students?

The campus is equipped with diverse spaces where students can practise research methods from various fields. Arts and crafts tools and equipment is plentifully available. We have a good library, and computers and tablets to allow students to access the internet at all times.

What kind of pedagogy is used?

The teachers are free to choose their own methods and these are discussed in school meetings and teacher meetings. Teachers are encouraged to develop and experiment with new methods and listen to student feedback.

Is it possible to be a day student if you live nearby?

Yes. Local young people are welcomed to become students in the school and they are given the option to live at home or at the campus.

How is the learning evaluated?

Students will build a comprehensive portfolio of their studies and will constantly reflect on their work together with their work group.


Adults

What is the role of adults at the school?

Adults help the students in the beginning of their studies to get accustomed to various problem-solving methods and guide them in finding groups and challenges to work on. Adults take care of safety, community building and the campus, and make sure that the environment is inspiring and diverse.

How are teachers and staff members chosen?

The core team which has created the concept will choose the initial team. After that the students will participate in the hiring of new staff.

What is the role of the school principal?

The school principal is the main contact person for parents and the media unless the school meeting decides to create a public relations office. The principal is the main person responsible for the day to day life at the school, while most of the decisions about the functioning of the school are made at the school meeting, where every student and staff member has one vote.

How are parents involved?

Parents are welcome to visit the school and provide their skills and knowledge to the students on a short-term basis. If the students approve, a parent can become a staff member.

What kind of powers do teachers and staff members have?

Teachers and staff members don’t have any special powers. The community is run democratically so that every member of the community has equal power. Some people may be assigned some roles, which grant them rights to make decisions regarding certain aspects of the school community, but all individual decisions are under the school meeting rule.

How do you make sure that the adults are trustworthy and safe?

Adults at PANKA have no power over the students and if adults misbehave towards the students the school meeting has the power to issue consequences. All lessons and group meetings are voluntary and teachers are strongly encouraged to listen to student feedback on their teaching.

Do students have space and privacy?

The boarding students have their own quarters where only the students living in that particular room have access. Special spaces are reserved for silent working and meditation or mindfulness sessions. Space is also reserved for rough play loud noises. It is important that aggression can be expressed in a safe environment, especially as we’re working on sometimes very frustrating topics. Professional counselors are available for personal reflection and counselling.


Discipline and conflicts

How are conflicts solved?

There will be selected ombudspersons both from staff and from students who will solve conflicts, and if their help isn’t enough then there’s a conflict resolution panel made up of both staff and students. The panel will will then solve the situation and has the authority to set consequences.

Are there rules? How are they created?

A basic set of rules will be set when the school starts, but all of them are subject to change by the school meeting. The school meeting can also issue new rules as and when necessary.

What kinds of freedoms and responsibilities do the students have?

The students are free to plan their daily schedule and which lessons or work groups to attend if any. Many of the work groups will be binding so that if you decide to start working in one, then you’re expected to continue until the workgroup finishes it’s work. Some consequences may follow for not committing to the group.

How is bullying handled?

Due to the nature of the school we expect there to be very few cases of bullying. The ombudspersons will be the first to deal with the cases, and then if needed the conflict resolution panel, and finally the school meeting will deal with the situation. Necessary measures will be taken in order to stop the bullying.


School Structure

How is the school governed?

The school has a principal or headmaster who is responsible for the day to day operation of the school, but who mainly delegates his/her power to the school meeting. The school meeting consists of all the people studying and working in the school regardless of age or ability. The school meeting makes decisions democratically either through majority vote or consensus decision making.

What is a regular day like?

In the morning there is a gathering where announcements are made, lessons offered and work groups organized. If there is a need for a new challenge, the morning meeting will discuss and choose a new one.

After the morning meeting the work groups start working on their challenges, and students can decide to go to lessons or join the working groups. They may also choose to do something Independently.

The working groups can decide their own schedule and can work for as long as they choose. Around noon there is a lunch-break and a snack time during afternoon. After dinner there is a light evening program which may include watching documentaries or movies, playing board games or computer games or doing some arts, meditation or other evening activities.

The school meeting decides on sleeping hours or quiet time in order to guarantee enough rest and peaceful time for everyone.

The day to day operation of the school is subject to change by the school meeting.

Is there some kind of hierarchy at the school?

No. Adults and students have various roles chosen by themselves or ordered by the school meeting. In these roles they may have more influence on certain aspects of the school life.

How does a school meeting operate?

There are various ways of running a school meeting. The school meeting will decide how to operate. Initially we will be using a sociocratic method where issues are discussed in a circle so that everybody gets a chance to talk and approve or suggest changes to the issue at hand. Eventually as the community grows, we will most likely switch to more majority vote system where there is a chairperson who assigns turns to speak and in the end of discussion there will be a vote by hands with the majority decision.


School Community

How is the boarding organized?

There will be separate areas for students of different ages. The students will sleep in rooms of 2 or 4 students. Adults living in the campus will have a place of their own.

How often do students go home / have holidays?

The students will go home once in a year during the Christmas Holidays.


Funding

How is the school funded?

There is a budget attached as a separate file. Income will come from private investments, local municipality support, crowdfunding and a bank loan.

How is the school budget built?

The initial budget will be created by the core team, but afterwards the budget will be discussed and decided at the school meeting.


Future Plans

Are you planning to start schools in other countries also?

There is a plan to create a wide network of similar schools around the world to allow for as many students to participate as possible.