Based on the newest curriculum concerning basic education Finnish National Agency for Education (Opetushallitus) has released a guide how schools should take into account gender variations, which these days transcend girl and boy centric approaches. Gender-conscious teaching means that teachers are sensitive in recognising individuality and personality of each pupil, regardless of their background. In practice this means that teachers guide pupils to make individual choices instead of maintaining segregation in education and job market.
This line of thought also includes that teachers should acknowledge there are more genders than two and therefore pupils shouldn’t be only recognised as boys and girls. Recognising various sexual orientations and a multitude of identities is crucial in teaching as it helps to break stereotypes, prejudism and broadens one’s understanding.
The key is to realize that any person can become anything. A gender or being genderless shouldn’t dictate one’s life choices. That’s why teachers should encourage pupils pursue their abilities despite of deep cultural assumptions how one ‘should behave’. As with any possible topic teachers should be aware and be willing to discuss about new fields which might not be that known to them. Thus we achieve better level of inclusion among pupils.
Anything to comment?
Many of us have been taught deeply about important historical events, about times when our country faced a moment of crisis. In the case of Finland, such instance is probably best known as the Winter War (1939—1940). While those struggles should not be forgotten or be left out from the curriculum, there are also other historical themes which could be taught to pupils more in depth.
It’s eventually a choice what we teach and how. A constant debate exists how much emphasis is to be put on certain topics and how the ever-present lack of time should be handled in teaching. Yet, I argue that marginal issues concerning for instance ethnical minorities could be addressed better through teaching. After all, we teach since we want to create awareness and improve critical thinking, not just reproduce lessons exactly the same way as was taught earlier.
Further, marginal issues should be more present during school lessons, because:
- Today’s marginal issues could be tomorrow’s majority. During European history several natural scientific theories were put in margin due to the fact they didn’t fit into catholic church’s agenda.
- It gives opportunities to explore new fields. Not everything has yet been researched and pupils should be encouraged to enter topics which aren’t mainstream.
- They expand awareness. Teaching ultimately creates awareness and it’s our job to prepare pupils with better cognitive skills. Pupils learn to inspect a phenomenon through multiple angles.
- They offer means to handle new knowledge. Pupils face new knowledge currently at the greatest speed ever. Handling and filtering incoming data is crucial. We don’t want anyone to feel powerless amidst information flow and that they can’t have an influence.
- That’s a way to present pupils opportunities of discovery. The joy of making new findings and connecting them to earlier lessons is important for school motivation. It also underlines that anyone can make information discoveries.
All in all, this blog post leads us to question:
What topics are left out of the curriculum and why?
(I’ll come to that more in future posts).
Please share if you have ideas concerning the topic.