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Helena Ruuska

Marja Helena Ruuska
Born May 7, 1958, Heinola

Master of arts 1984 (Finnish literature), licentiate 1995, PhD 2010, University of Helsinki
Qualified as a comprehensive school teacher 1980, University of Helsinki

Professor of Finnish language and literature 2009–, University of Helsinki, the Normal Lyceum of Helsinki
Publishing manager 2001–09, Otava publishing house
Lecturer in Finnish language and literature 1994–2001, Kruunuhaka secondary school
Class teacher 1980–94, City of Helsinki

Publications, awards and special achievements:
Eeva Joenpelto. Elämän kirjailija, 2015
Marja-Liisa Vartio. Kuin linnun kirkaisu, 2012

Textbooks and teaching material:
Kärki 7, teaching material for Finnish language and literature, 2015
Aleksis 7–9, teaching material for Finnish language and literature 2002–15
Piste 1–3 and 4–6, teaching material for upper-secondary school Finnish language and literature 2005 and 2006

Literary reviews in various newspapers, most recently Helsingin Sanomat 2009–

Positions of responsibility:
Vice-chairman of the Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers 2012–
Member of the national curriculum working group for the primary school teaching of Finnish language and literature 2012–14

Photo: Pertti Nisonen / WSOY
Written by Helena Ruuska (Tomas Sjöblom, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Researcher and teacher

Helena Ruuska knows comprehensive school like the back of her hand. As a newly graduated class teacher, she went through her baptism of fire at Jakomäki primary school in the 1980s. What she hadn’t learned at the Department of Teacher Education she soon acquired from taking care of 15 first-graders. “They aren’t your children,” an old-hand had reminded the novice teacher.

While teaching fifth and sixth-graders at Kaisaniemi primary school, Ruuska wondered what kind of magician was able to teach 10 different subjects. While giving instructions to 30 girls at the side of a football pitch, she realised that was best to focus on what you know.

In addition to her day job, Dr Ruuska’s also studied Finnish language and literature, allowing her to become a qualified teacher of this subject. Her career as a subject teacher began at Kruunuhaka comprehensive school and continues to this day at Helsinki Normal Lyceum.

School children, upper-secondary school students and trainee teachers have filled Dr Ruuska’s mornings and afternoons since 2009. In addition to her own teaching, she plans, coordinates and develops teaching. The teaching writing and various connected research projects are closest to her heart. Dr Ruuska’s research also includes how grammar teaching can be intertwined with teaching writing. How do students formulate the language they use?

Considering all the things that writing includes with a group of ninth-graders, spring 2015.


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