Teachers Facing the Challenges of Curriculum Change in the Small Rural School in Finland.Report as inadecuate

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Over half of Finnish elementary schools are small schools employing 1-3 teachers. This paper examines the implementation of new national curriculum policies in two small elementary schools. The new policies, adopted in 1994, stress autonomous control of learning and encourage each individual school, in collaboration with the community, to draw up its own curriculum on the basis of general national guidelines. Teachers are encouraged to help students become familiar with the local environment and the needs of their own community. One of the schools studied, Suvila School, emphasized the interaction between the school and community. Changes proceeded in phases as teachers gained experience. Cooperative work in small multi-aged groups was introduced. Activity-oriented learning was accomplished by extending topic-unit duration, allowing time for student project work. Teachers functioned as instructors and work supervisors. In contrast, teachers at Ranta-Sointula School were openly critical about implementation of the new school-based curriculum. The head teacher was not interested in in-service training and cited a lack of teacher cooperation. Parents wanted traditional teaching of basic skills. The curriculum preserved traditional school practices of textbook-centered curriculum and teacher control. In general, curricula are based on certain philosophies and beliefs about education that shape teachers' actions. Therefore, curricular changes involve changes in teacher beliefs and depend upon teachers' readiness for cooperation and experimentation. (Contains 58 references.) (TD)

Descriptors: Active Learning, Case Studies, Curriculum Development, Educational Change, Educational Practices, Elementary Education, Elementary School Teachers, Foreign Countries, Multigraded Classes, Resistance to Change, Rural Schools, School Community Relationship, School Culture, School District Autonomy, Small Schools, Teacher Attitudes, Teacher Role

Author: Kimonen, Eija; Nevalainen, Raimo

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=12529&id=ED444770

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