Strong position for arts and cultural education in basic education - Taideobservatorio
The Observatory for Arts and Cultural Education, Finland
The project collects and disseminates information on the practices, research and policies in the field of arts and cultural education in Finland, reinforces the connections between research and practical work, and supports cooperation between operators in the field of arts and cultural education and the operating conditions of the field as well as international cooperation.
null Strong position for arts and cultural education in basic education
Arts and cultural education is an important part of building a child's and young person's diverse worldview and general education. The research unquestionably shows that high-quality and student-centred arts and cultural education significantly supports social and academic development, school wellbeing, comfort and the development of skills needed in the future. However, the position of arts and cultural education in basic education has deteriorated dramatically in recent decades. At present, the school system does not sufficiently support the development of these areas, which contributes to undermining the equal accessibility of arts and cultural education.
The Observatory for Arts and Cultural Education, Finland, presents the following areas at the forefront of curriculum and development work:
The position of art subjects in basic education must be strengthened, considering the diverse range of art forms;
The possibility of participation in arts and cultural experiences must be improved in the school environment and cooperation between different educational institutions, recreational activities and basic education must be developed.
The position of arts and cultural education has deteriorated
Arts and cultural education in comprehensive schools, in its current form, is unable to equalise the inequalities in children's and young people's participation in arts and cultural education. This increase in inequality is due in particular to the fact that participation in arts and culture is learnt in families. This means that the opportunity to engage in hobbies and later study art is accumulated for children and young people whose home supports cultural participation. At the same time, the possibility of contact with arts and culture remains unrealised for a large proportion of children and young people, producing serious inequality in our society. (Anttila 2021; Ilmola-Sheppard et al. 2021; Ursin 2016; Heikkilä 2020).
In the school of the future, the teaching of artistic subjects reaching all pupils must be increased. The position of art and skills subjects in school has significantly deteriorated as reforms and resource structures have changed over the decades (Hyvönen 2006; Juntunen & Anttila 2019). Art subjects are taught less than other compulsory subjects in comprehensive schools. It should be possible to study art subjects equally in each grade of basic education, and art subjects in grades 8 and 9 should not be placed in a competitive position as part of the provision of optional subjects. Cuts in art subjects in class teacher education, poor mastery of subjects by teachers and an increased number of incompetent teachers produce great variations in learning outcomes (see e.g. Finland 2019; Laitinen, Hilmola & Juntunen 2011). The comprehensive school would provide a natural opportunity to gradually move on to subject teacher practice. A subject teacher in the arts could start teaching in the lower grades, continuing to grade 9 and upper secondary school. In addition, the position of arts and art subjects should be strengthened by developing the general upper secondary school diploma as part of the general upper secondary education and the matriculation examination (Ylirisku, Härkönen & Vepsä 2022).
The significance of the school's arts and cultural education
High-quality art education supports social and academic development and the pupil's identity building, inclusion and wellbeing. Concern about the exclusion and ill-feeling of young people is a serious challenge for education.
Recognising, making visible and sharing different personal strengths typical of art subjects strengthens wellbeing. The impact of making art on wellbeing should be considered as part of young people's coping and development. In addition, studying art subjects supports learning skills and produces meaningful experiences. When the health impacts of art have been studied, it has been shown that creative expression promotes school wellbeing and satisfaction. By promoting creative expression, pupils' ability to take responsibility for their learning is also supported. In addition, creative thinking and developing ideas in cooperation with others form the competence base for all fields of education and future professions. (see e.g. Fancourt & Finn 2019; Knell 2015; Pulkkinen 2015; Fiske 1999.)
Comprehensive curriculum orientation
The current core curriculum emphasises the democratic values (inclusion, equality, diversity and sustainable society) that create the foundations of Finnish culture and society. A prerequisite for their implementation is the implementation of the ideology of the curriculum in the activities and framework of the schools, which enable thematic and holistic learning. A clearer link between art subjects and the overall goals of the curriculum must primarily be perceived as a structural and emphasis-related issue of teaching. However, high-quality art education is above all an essential part of a versatile worldview and general education, the achievement of which must be guaranteed equal opportunities for each pupil (see e.g. Hiltunen, Ruokonen & Tervaniemi 2022).
Art education in comprehensive school should also provide personal experience of art forms that are not part of the subjects to be taught. For example, familiarisation with performing arts takes place occasionally in schools, even though they are part of general education and create opportunities for pupils to develop and express themselves.
It would be important to safeguard the continuum of art education from early childhood education and care to professional education and to foster a lifelong relationship with art and culture. At the same time, the learner is involved in different forms of education and hobbies. Student-centred art education plays an important role in the development of key skills, such as creative thinking, problem-solving ability, resilience in difficult or unresolved situations, and diverse self-expression. Strengthening cooperation between arts and cultural education institutions and different levels of education, early childhood education and care, youth services and social and health services improves the wellbeing of children and young people and builds new kinds of study paths. The education system should, therefore, recognise the pupil's simultaneous participation in the teaching of several forms of education, such as comprehensive schools, adult education centres and educational institutions providing basic education in the arts more strongly than at present.
Age-level cultural education plans for the core curriculum
All municipalities are responsible for organising cultural activities, the content and implementation of which is decided by the municipality. For this reason, there are huge differences in the quality of cultural education plans and their implementation. The implementation of equal cultural education requires a national set of criteria and an obligation. Art and cultural activities organised as part of the school promote the creative skills, cultural competence and learning skills of children and young people. The cultural education plan allows pupils to familiarise themselves with local culture, art institutions and different art forms. They are a key factor for equal inclusion of children and young people. Cultural education plans should be a binding element of the curriculum for all Finnish children and young people to become part of arts and cultural content.
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Ylirisku, H., Härkönen, E., & Vepsä, J. (Eds.) (2022). Arvioinnin äärellä: Lukion kuvataiteen arviointia ja lukiodiplomia kehittämässä KAARO-hankkeessa. Aalto University. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-64-0751-7
Vision work in different fields of art
Metsälä, S; Anttila, E; Kauppila, H; Kleimola, P; Koskinen; Koskiniemi, M; Köngäs, K; Leinikki, S; Lehmus, J; Punkki-Heikkinen, R; Päivikkö, U; Saarela, S; Tucker, A; Valta, A.; von Numers-Ekman, K; Valkeapää, J.; Ylikorva, M.; Linjama, E.; Paappanen, P. (2022).
Esittävien taiteiden kasvatuksen ja koulutuksen visio 2030. https://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-353-063-8
Taidekasvatuksen ja -koulutuksen kansalliset visiot https://www.uniarts.fi/projektit/taidekasvatuksen-ja-koulutuksen-kansalliset-visiot-2030/