Why does culture need a separate plan? What resources does the cultural education plan require? How does the plan work with multi-grade classes?
Below is a list of general questions and answers related to cultural education plans. If they do not help solve your problem, you can contact bodies such as the support group for cultural education plans, the Association of Cultural Heritage Education in Finland or the Association of Finnish Children’s Cultural Centers.
A local plan makes it possible to highlight the specific features and local emphases in a given area. Children and young people can then become part of the local cultural environment.
There are regional differences between various actors, facilities, and events that can be taken into account in creating the local plan. The cultural education plan creates a framework and common operating models within the municipality and makes work easier for individual schools and teachers.
With the help of the municipality-wide cultural education plan, the entire age group can be reached, which makes cultural education fairer. A municipal cultural education plan ensures that the children’s and young people’s experiences of culture do not depend only on the interest of an individual teacher or principal or on the limited resources of an individual school. Centralized cultural education planning for the entire municipality also saves resources, facilitates the work of individual schools and teachers, and helps cultural institutions target their activities to schools.
Basic education has a general educational purpose, and knowledge of arts and culture is part of this. A cultural education plan is a diverse and extensive arrangement – it does not apply only to arts and other practical subjects. It also includes areas such as media education, environmental education, and sustainable development, and in some municipalities even physical education. Culture offers new ways of learning and also promotes the learning of other subjects. For example, music can be used to help in learning mathematics.
The minimum working group for creating a cultural education plan could consist of, for example, one primary school teacher, one secondary school teacher, and one cultural worker. One of the group members should be assigned the main responsibility for writing the plan and coordinating the project.
Experience has shown that it takes at least 10 hours or three weeks to draw up a plan. At the other extreme, it has taken over a year to create the plan. How long it takes your municipality depends on several factors, such as resources, goals, and starting situation. Creating a cultural education plan does not require any resources other than personnel – that is, someone to write the plan.
If little money is available for the activities, the plan should make the best possible use of activities that can be carried out with existing human resources in schools, libraries, and municipal cultural institutions. Instead of transporting schoolchildren to performances, for example, performances and workshops led by artists can be brought to schools.
On the contrary, the purpose of a cultural education plan is precisely to ensure that cultural experiences are not one-off. The plan is drawn up in collaboration between the municipality’s education and cultural services. The activities will continue from year to year, thereby forming a continuum. Preliminary and follow-up work are also combined with the visits.
In an ever-internationalizing Finland, there needs to be increased multiculturalism and increased understanding of it. Awareness of minority customs, traditions, or religions increases student tolerance and reduces prejudice. Similarly, Finnish culture, festive traditions, historical venues, or exhibitions help immigrants to integrate and become attached to their home region – in short, to become part of the community. Mutual tolerance and inclusivity can be promoted by improving cultural literacy, the understanding of different cultures, and the development of one’s own cultural identity.
Cultural education can strengthen children’s and young people’s sense of belonging among children of minorities, helping them feel part of their community and society. For example, education that respects local identity connects all students, teaches responsibility for one’s environment, and fosters community spirit. Putting down roots in one’s new home region can be a unifying experience for pupils from a refugee background, for example.
A teaching group made up of people from different cultural backgrounds can share knowledge and skills about cultures, traditions, and art forms. In creating the cultural education plan, it is always worthwhile to try to make the best possible use of the perspectives and special skills of students from different backgrounds. This will help ensure that the plan is genuinely multicultural. At its best, cultural education can lead to a cosmopolitan society, one where each person has the knowledge and skills they need to do well wherever they want to live in the future.
Cultural education is an excellent opportunity for schools to increase inclusion all round. Cultural education provided jointly for different groups creates a sense of community and reduces mutual prejudices.
Jointly held cultural activities allow students who need support to demonstrate their knowledge and special skills. Many special needs students have a special artistic talent, and nurturing this talent is beneficial for their identity and self-esteem. Cultural education is also a rehabilitative activity for special needs students, and contributes to their wellbeing and ability to cope. For example, different art forms are an important part of the rehabilitation of many students with autism spectrum disorder. Finding alternative means of self-expression can be a significant help to many special needs students.
Cultural education for special groups requires motivation, courage, and flexibility from the instructor. Special groups have widely differing needs, situations change quickly, and things don’t always go according to plan. Every member of every group must be valued and treated with understanding and as an individual.
There are several options for dealing with multi-grade classes. The cultural education plan can be prepared in such a way that the agreed cultural actors become familiar to the students during grades 1 to 2 or grades 3 to 6, for example. Another option is for each group to always learn about culture together, regardless of the age group of the students. A third option is to arrange a separate activity for each grade, in which case students of other grades in the multi-grade class will have their own activities.