The Learning Renaissance

Finland – Showing the Way With a Subject-Less Curriculum

The idea that a curriculum can be constructed around subject knowledge has always been suspect… who decides which content and does the content reflect contemporary needs or historic antecedents?

As knowledge expands exponentially, there is no firm raft of content or knowledge which will see a learner comfortably through their working life, let alone their wider life. However, there are vested interests keen to maintain their particular chunk of curriculum knowledge intact in a changing world. In my own subject of history, there have always been the reductionists who see the subject as the receptacle of the essentially narrative national history, the sanitised and authorised history of ‘who we are’ as a nation. So an essentially fairytale version of the past is propagated to provide a national identity, which edits out any unwelcome blemishes.

The balance of subjects in the curriculum tends to stress the national language, mathematics and sciences as the immutable core of learning. Vocational and artistic subjects are marginalised as the ‘icing’ rather than the body of the cake that is national education.

More forward-looking countries now regard this thinking as archaic and are radically re-engineering learning.

For example, there are significant changes in assessment, because assessment articulates what is considered important in learning. This is why teachers end up, whatever their original intentions, in teaching to the test.

Finland looks to a different approach. The most important point of departure for this is a recognition that the traditional curriculum ends up being a rationing process – it measures success minds by rationing success and identifying failure. Such a quality control process is horrendously wasteful of talent and motivation of students and teachers.

Elisabeth Williams article on the search for a new curriculum, which does away with subjects and concentrates instead at the process of learning and project-based activities which allow all children to develop their learning processes is important for us all to grasp.

Re-Examining Success cover

I make my own contribution for curriculum re-design in Re-Examining Success.

The link to Elisabeth’s article is here: Finland Will Become The First Country In The World To Get Rid Of All School Subjects | Elisabeth Williams | CuriousMindMagazine


About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world. My books, Future Proof Your School and Re-Examining Success together with this blog, explore how better learning outcomes for all can be achieved.

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