Maarja Vaino: Education shapes the cultural image of each new generation | Opinion


Studies seem to be taking a turn at a distance, as parents are once again confronted with the prospect of becoming part-time teachers. Despite the fact that this has been a heavy burden for many mothers and fathers, I would like to hope that this new look at our children’s school curriculum will not be without benefits.

I got the impression that people often don’t know or care what their children are learning in school. Parents often believe it must be much the same as they were taught back then. While it is true to some extent, as the multiplication table is still the multiplication table, a lot has changed over the years.

Curricula have been constantly changing since 2014, with changes often “happening” without parents knowing what is changed, how, and to what end. In addition, we must admit that the field of education is a fairly close area.

It is difficult for a foreigner to understand the nature of the relevant documents, who wrote them and what they are used for. This gradually facilitated changes in the volume – also in Estonian language and literature courses – and in the content of teaching.

I recently read the book by educator Urve Läänemets “Ratio Studiorum. Õppekavadest ehk kuidas korraldada kooliharidust” (“Ratio Studiorum. On curricula or how to organize school education”) and found the following ideas stimulating. Läänemets writes:

“If the goal is to set up a meaningful and professionally culturally integrated curriculum, we would first need to seriously discuss and agree on the ideological basis and subsequent values ​​on which it should be. placed, for example, at the level of the Riigikogu. / – – / Estonian programs must include culturally and socially compatible content. “

The content of education shapes the cultural understanding of each new generation. What is worth learning and what do we need to know if we are to ensure that the preamble to the Constitution remains relevant?

I can’t think of too many examples of Riigikogu debating fundamental accents in programs. There has also been little such debate in the public sphere. I guess that’s why parents post pictures of study material that they find downright surprising, either in terms of content or presentation on social media.

Therefore, we can ask ourselves who added these accents and why, as well as whether we should, from time to time, have a public debate about what our children are being taught.

Education was not much of an issue in the recent local elections. Yet local government leaders have a lot to say in education, while parents constitute a sizable constituency. Maybe we should recognize it more.

In any case, I would very much like developments in the field of education to deserve more public attention. For example, work is underway on the Estonian education business plan which the Ministry of Education and Research is expected to present in November on the basis of the government business plan. One of the main topics of the plan is the transition to universal Estonian education.

The document appears to carry the so-called common Estonian school ideology, while there is no social consensus on whether the transition should occur based on the ideas of this particular project. While the so-called affected parties may have sent in proposals, documents gathered in quiet offices tend to follow their own path.

Does the public really know anything about the document? But it should. Especially since the business plan seems to neglect Estonian students in Estonian schools as well as the education and research strategy for 2021-2035 in which Estonian culture and language studies are dealt mainly in the context of students non Estonians and foreigners.

The state does not seem overly concerned with the volume and content of Estonian education, as if we are the only ones on Earth who are fluent in birth.

The repeated proposals sent to the Ministry of Education for more Estonian language and literature courses at the expense of optional subjects and for an Estonian cultural history course did not merit a business plan.

Again, the situation is best summed up in the words of Anton Hansen Tammsaare:

“We may have allowed ourselves and our students to be swayed by aspiring and real Germans, Estonians have become Russians, optants and all kinds of underground elements for too long; just as we can always find an explanation for which we have to speak English, French, German, Russian, Swedish, Finnish, Latin and Greek, while we find some precious words and actions to protect our mother tongue. “

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