#Peruskoulu2040: Kolme skenaariota tulevaisuuden peruskouluun

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


Continuous social, demographic, and digital change is challenging school systems worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic, with its remote learning experiences, has further fuelled the debate on the future of learning, including the future of a Finnish 50-year-old comprehensive school (peruskoulu). In particular, the discussion focuses on the curriculum as a guide to learning objectives and methods and the teacher’s role. The concern of global economic and political actors that schools are not meeting the skills needs of the future has been translated into the emphasis on transversal competences alongside traditional knowledge-based subjects, also in Finland.

There is limited futures research on learning in the context of comprehensive schools. This study examines future developments in Finnish comprehensive school through images of the future and scenarios created based on a Delphi panel. The aim is to outline alternative views on what and how is taught and learned in the future comprehensive school and how the curriculum guides that. The focus is on the transversal competences and the curriculum process, which also frames the objectives of the transversal competences. The systemic framework of the research is built by combining Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory with the curriculum-making system. The desirability of future images and scenarios is reflected in the light of developmental psychology and educational research.

The Delfoi panel (n=30) consisted of experts traditionally involved in Finnish curriculum-making at different levels. The panel editorialised on twelve future theses in an argumentative one-round Delphi. The panel showed that views on school development are partly contradictory. The main consensus was on the importance of transversal competences. The data was analysed using the futures table method, resulting in three alternative images used to create scenarios describing the choices and decisions that could lead to these future images.

The scenario ”The smart always survive” builds on personalised e-learning based on competency descriptions in a context where schools as physical buildings have disappeared. In the future vision of ”Open to the world”, schools are social value drivers, emphasising the importance of culture and knowledge as a basis for transversal competences. The curriculum is updated in a fast cycle. In the scenario of ”A safe nest in a turbulent world”, the school is a safety net for families, with a mission to ensure the well-being of pupils. The national curriculum governs teacher- and knowledge-centred learning, while national tests assess learning.

A reflection of the future images and scenarios in the light of previous research showed that all scenarios have both desirable and threatening features. A trend towards inequality in learning outcomes, undermining schools’ role in providing a foundation of general knowledge and ability, a reduction in teachers’ autonomy or the increasing role of global actors in steering national education policies could be undesirable developments.

In the ”Open to the world” scenario, the school culture could optimally support students’ cognitive development and transversal competences. The role of teachers in curriculum-making would be strengthened. The study concludes that the current National Curriculum for Basic Education directs the development of this type of school. However, the situation in schools does not fully correspond to the description. Schools need sufficient time resources, development skills and strong leadership to develop as learning and dialogical communities.

The study’s conclusions highlight the importance of research-based school development and of considering the systemic nature of schools when making decisions for the future. It is essential that understanding of pupils’ learning and its conditions should be the basis for all decisions concerning the school. Pupils’ learning experience between their capacities and the demands of different systems is described in the study by a new concept of ’learnership’.
Original languageFinnish
Place of PublicationTampere
ISBN (Electronic) 978-952-03-2876-4
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (articles)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028

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