Meet the Team: Christopher


Meet Christopher Petrie, our Director of Digital Learning

Growing up in Christchurch, New Zealand, Chris dreamed about becoming an entrepreneur and developing innovative technologies. Following his parents’ footsteps, Chris followed his other passion, learning, and became an educator. Chris has lived in Finland for over two years and now leads New Nordic School’s digital learning.

Hi Chris! What have you been working on lately at New Nordic School?

“Hi! I’ve been mostly working on our technology platform that will enable personalized learning for every student. The goal of technology is not to make the life of a teacher busier, but rather to save time.”

You worked as an educator yourself before, what was the best part about being an educator?

“There were lots of great parts about being an educator. One of the reasons why I became an educator was because I love learning, in all forms and domains. I have learned about music, computing, and more. I get quite easily excited about learning. So, I think what the best thing about teaching is when you are excited about learning alongside the student. You’re discovering things together and you see that enthusiasm grow within the student as well, which in turn makes you as a teacher more enthusiastic. It’s an extremely rewarding profession in that respect, and every day is different.

When I was first starting out as a teacher, my age wasn't very different from many of my students, so I learned how to how to deal with teenagers about to leave high school. I also taught piano quite a lot in my 20s. I think there's something special about the 1-on-1 interaction especially in something like music where it's very passion-driven and where you’re not necessarily going towards a defined goal but something that's more ambiguous and creative.”

Did you always want to be an educator, or did you have another dream job when you were younger?

"My dream job was to be an entrepreneur and to build and develop innovative technologies, so I’m kind of doing that now. I never dreamed of being an educator to be honest, which is ironic because my parents were both educators and I ended up becoming an educator. I used to come home from school with my mom’s piano students always coming into the house. My father was a computer science lecturer, and our family was known as an early adopter of the internet and the latest technology growing up.”

Where did you grow up?

“In Christchurch, New Zealand. I moved to Wellington after I finished my bachelor’s degree.”

What was your education like?

“I went to state schools, I had a very good education and a very supportive school at the primary level. There were some aspects of high school which I didn't like, like being forced through specific kinds and ways of learning, while not being given the freedom to explore my interests and passions. The system would want me to think and do things a certain way, which didn’t make me very motivated. At the same time, I knew grades were important for my future so I couldn’t just ignore school work. I was more interested in the arts, especially in high school. I think part of the problem was that I was always trying to divide the time between getting good grades versus exploring passions and interests which didn’t align well.”

What are you reading currently?

“I'm starting to get interested in Finnish history so I’m reading Unknown Soldiers by Väinö Linna. I really like reading things that are kind of a cross between history and fiction.”

What was your favorite band 10 years ago?

“Fleet Foxes, a modern folk-rock band.”

You've lived in Finland for quite many years now… what was the biggest culture shock for you moving here?

“Initially the biggest culture shock was that there wasn't much of a culture shock. I think there are some similarities between this low-key, relaxed kind of culture between New Zealand and Finland. Both are also quite liberal countries that have a population of around 5million people. The more I learn and experience, the more the differences are becoming a contrast.”

If you could choose any place in the world to open a New Nordic School, where would it be?

“Nepal would be good at some stage. I have volunteered in several schools there and observed a lot of rote learning, which is terribly ineffective and can destroy a love of learning.”

Interested in becoming a partner school?


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