ge-media, spatial citizenship

Finland confirms: Geography and GIS essential in renewal of the core school curriculum

Does anyone doubt that Finland continues to give their youngsters the best education in the world?  Now they are introducing geographical studies throughout their core basic curriculum. This blog introduces the changes and suggests some aspects of geo- that have become so important in Finnish school education.

Finnish curriculum reform

Talking about curriculum reform

Finland has been reflecting on the aims of their education system and as a result is renewing their national core curriculum for basic education. The process has involved all stakeholders, particularly education providers, educators, parents and pupils and will be completed by the end of 2014. On the basis of this consultation, the Finnish Ministry of Education has just released statements about basic, core primary and secondary teaching.

These education leaders believe Geography and the use of geo-media must be central to a core curriculum in school education.

In a video Ms. Irmeli Halinen, Head of Curriculum Development at the Finnish National Board of Education, discusses the basic education curriculum reform in Finland and identifies key components involved in the change.

Geo-media (or geographic media) is an important new perspective, added as part of the core competences all pupils must develop. Geo-media is described as media that uses the spatial localisation of information, i.e. that uses geoinformation (GI). It includes all representations of space, covering a wide range of outputs from verbal description, multimedia to visualisation (Gryl and Jekel, 2012).

SPACIT, geo-media competences

Geo-media competences

Geo-media was first used as a term in the network project, which sought to elaborate on the potential offered by geo-technologies in school education in developing ICT, problem solving, critical analysis and other important competences. The project shared more than 3000 examples of geo-media through its activities and on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, @Twitter).

Since then a teacher training competence model and curriculum for introducing geo-media in classes has been developed by the Spatial Citizenship project. Now a teacher training course and materials are available for download from the Web site.

In Finland, teachers will prepare new local curricula based on this core curriculum by the beginning of school year 2016–2017.

Geocapabilities logo

GeoCapabilities Project

This approach connects closely with the goals of the GeoCapabilities Project, seeking to develop professional development and teacher training developing  teachers as leaders in curriculum change and where ‘capabilities’ rather than only competences are an important perspective.

So how should other countries respond?


Finnish school curriculum (in Finnish) - English versions will follow

Basic elements of curriculum reform: presentation

About Spatial Citizenship

Spatial Citizenship Project: Progress Report

Spatial citizenship competence Model


Gryl, Inga; Jekel, Thomas (2012). “Re-centering geoinformation in secondary education: Toward a spatial citizenship approach.“ Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization. 1 47: 18–28.

Further Reading

Carlos, Vânia; Gryl, Inga (2013): “Where do Critical Thinking and Spatial Citizenship meet? Proposing a framework of intersections.” In: Jekel, T., Car, A., Strobl, J. & Griesebner, G. (eds.): GI_Forum 2013, Berlin: 437-446.

Gryl, Inga; Jekel Thomas; Donert, Karl (2010), GI and Spatial Citizenship, , p2-12, In Jekel T, Donert K and Koller A (eds.) (2010), Learning with GeoInformation V, Berlin, Wichman Verlag

Gryl, Inga; Schulze, Uwe; Detlef, Kanwischer (2013):  “Spatial Citizenship. The concept of competence“, In: Jekel, T., Car, A., Strobl, J. & Griesebner, G. (eds.): GI_Forum 2013, Berlin: 282-293.

Gryl, Inga; Schulze, Uwe; Detlef, Kanwischer (2012), “Spatial Citizenship – Dimensions of a Curriculum“, In Jekel, T., Car, A., Strobl, J. & Griesebner, G. (Eds.) (2012): GI_Forum 2012: Geovizualisation, Society and Learning. Herbert Wichmann Verlag,



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