Naked truths

10th June 2005 at 01:00
John Muir, one of Highland's quality improvement officers for schools and occasional commentator in these columns, is no stranger to Finland, as he tells us this week (Viewpoint, page 22).

But, on his first visit, Muir certainly found himself a stranger to some of its customs, as Peter Peacock may well do on his trip next week. He recalls: "Just before I was due to leave, my colleague arranged for a farewell meeting with the inspectors, headteachers, teachers and education officers I had met.

"Before a lavish meal I was invited to join them in the ultimate luxury for a Finn, a smoke sauna, in an idyllic setting among birch trees on the edge of a beautiful lake, into which we would later plunge. As I sat there naked with colleagues who had become my friends for a season, I tried to imagine myself in a similar situation in Scotland.

"Could I ever find myself relaxing in the altogether, surrounded by smoke and steam from stones on a log fire, discussing education with my district inspector, local headteachers and the area education manager at a secluded spot by the edge of a loch in Sutherland?

"As I shared my musings with my Finnish colleague, he just laughed and said: 'In Finland, the sauna is the great equaliser. No one can tell your rank when you have no clothes on which to pin the stripes'."

The Education Minister has been warned.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today