Finland - Guidelines
As Finland is a small country, we already teach quite a lot about our neighbours at school. Anyhow, there is lot to do to improve this teaching and make it to have more dimensions and new approaches. Teachers could be better informed about our neighbours and there could be more emphasis on small nations, like for examples the Baltic countries, not only the cold war world powers.
In history teaching it is important to understand the controversial points of view in history teaching. At first informing and understanding history are not the opposites of each other. The other way round: understanding needs information and the more we understand, the more we want to get information.
The position in Finland between Sweden and Russia is very flowering, if we think about history teaching. There is both eastern and western influence to be seen in Finland, and that makes it easier for us to understand our neighbours. It could also be very useful to have Baltic countries as examples of other nations in a relatively same kind of position. In history teaching we could compare different ways of coping and acting in such situations. Then the role of Finnish nation wouldn’t become too eminent in our education, but rather could be compared with other countries.
In history teaching is often tend to talk about “us” and “them”. It is important, however, to understand, that every person has many identities, and generalising makes things too simple. The neighbours can be inside a country as well, so it is important to talk about those aspects, too. National identity, as all other identities, is a dynamic progress and should be seen that way.
When dealing with difficult or unpleasant things we have to rely on facts. In history teaching it is important to remember, that history could have been different. It is not given; it is the result of our choices. In this aspect values are always an important part of history teaching. There are a lot of controversial examples of interpreting historical facts, which could be good examples in lessons. Though Belarus and Poland won’t play a very important part in our national curriculum, we could choose some interesting cases of different interpreting from history of those countries.
It would be also be interesting to see what other countries teach about us. During lessons we could compare different curriculum and make comparisons. The big nationalities see the World different than the small ones, and the new countries have different points of emphasis than the old ones. That’s why we see these kinds of seminars are very useful, since they make us to see ourselves in a bigger context.