It was fall 2006 when I proposed for several people in the Finnish National Board of Education and in the Ministry of Education to put The National Core Curricula (equivalent to “national curriculum” in other countries), on a wiki, so that the citizens could discuss about it and edit it.
I got very positive replies from the Ministry. Artcihoke wrote about the idea online, while I was waiting to make the big news. Then something happened and nothing happened anymore. The last note I got from the National Board of Education was that their lawyers are considering if this is possible. Blah. End of story? Not yet.
This week some friends back in Finland started an online campaign with an aim to promote more project-oriented approach in education, so that students could study several study subjects by doing research on some theme. A theme could be for instance presidential election in USA or Baltic Sea. While doing the projects on themes student could cover studies related to several subjects, such as social sciences, history, math/statistics, biology etc.
To put forward this kind of thinking my friends wrote a manifesto, set up an online petition and opened a wiki for people to discuss about the topic. Next fall they are going to hand the manifesto and the petition for the National Board of Education. Good.
In the wiki site set for people to discuss about the idea, the first post was asking could someone add the current The National Core Curricula to the wiki. The answer was that you would find a link to the site of the National Board of Education where they have the documents. Good. Good enough? I don’t think so.
Links to documents are great. If you are, however, planning to change some document it is definitely better to have it on a wiki. So, I took the document and posted it to the wiki. Now the National Core Curriculum for Basic Education 2004 is on a wiki. You will find the wiki version of the document from here:
Feel free to edit and comment it in the discussion pages.
So here we are, finally. I could have done this a year and half ago. Why I didn’t? I didn’t do it because there wasn’t a community interested in to work with the documents. Now there are at least 20 people who already wrote the petition and are at some level interested in the topic. I know that the people in the Board of Education and the Ministry of Education are also interested in this. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as we are kind of paying them to be interested in this. Let see if this will now get any reactions from them.
You may wonder what is the status of the National Core Curricula document and how is it created in the first place?
The document is equivalent to “national curriculum” in many other countries. It is prepared by a group of experts in a frequency of 5-10 years. The document is basically defining what students in different grades should master. The current practice is that in the national level we only have this document to “guide” the work taking place in schools. Each school is then free and obligated to formulate their own curriculum and make it public in their website. In a way the National body is only giving the ends. The means are then decided in the school level. Then again the National and local educational authorities are following that things are going fine in the local level.
I think this works very well. Also the National Core Curricula document itself is really good document. I do not have any complains about it. Except one, which is not really about the content but about the process.
I think discussion on renewing and updating it should be continuous – something we do every day, not only in every 5-10 years. A wiki is a great place for this. I still think we need experts and the Ministry who will have the final word – these things should not be decided on a wiki-war. Still, the process pf preparing a document that is effecting us all, through our children, should be as transparent and open as possible.