National Curriculum Development as Educational Leadership: A Discursive and Non-affirmative Approach

Michael Uljens, Helena Rajakaltio

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter reconstructs the making and implementation of the new national curriculum in Finland (2012–2016). This research draws on non-affirmative theory of education and discursive institutionalism. The curriculum making process is perceived as a non-hierarchical educational leadership process where the National Board of Education (NBE) mediates and positions itself concerning (a) aims, (b) contents and (b) methods between transnational policies, national political decision making and policy work, various pressure and expert groups as well as school practice. The data consisted of interviews with three key actors within the Steering Committee of Curriculum Development (SCCD) and document analysis. The results demonstrate a shift towards stronger political steering, which in fact is a deviation from previous, trustbased policy regarding national education administration. In terms of discursive institutionalism the policy culture in Finland framing the curriculum leadership is still coordinative and dialogical, i.e. typical of a political consensus culture with broad governments, providing more autonomy for the educational administration. Second, curricular aims in the New Curriculum from 2016 reflect a movement towards a competence based curriculum, i.e. a more performative educational ideal is supported. The key competencies promoted are now similar to those promoted by the OECD since 2006. Third, a collaborative and development oriented professional culture around teaching methods is strengthened. Learning of the contents should now promote the development of more general key competencies. There are no indications of that the school system in Finland would be leaving a strong subject centered curriculum and evaluation.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationBridging Educational Leadership, Curriculum Theory and Didaktik - Non-Affirmative Theory of Education
EditorsMichael Uljens, Rose Ylimaki
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-58650-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-58648-9
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book


  • curriculum
  • curriculum theory
  • non-affirmative education theory

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