Kalle, 14, handles the microphone with apparent skill while interviewing Arto Alho, teacher of media education and mother tongue and literature. Behind the camera is Kalle’s classmate Joel, 14.
Kalle and Joel are in weighted curriculum education in media at Vuoniitty Comprehensive School. The eighth graders are satisfied with their choice. “I'm interested in news production and camera operation. I heard about weighted curriculum education in media from a friend, but wasn’t sure right away whether to apply. I'm glad I decided to do so,” Joel says.
In weighted curriculum education, Kalle and Joel have learned about interview techniques, operating a camera and updating the school’s social media accounts, among other things. “I just broke the school record in Instagram likes by posting an update that got 170 likes,” Kalle says.
Both Kalle and Joel believe they will end up working in the media sector. In the future, they might find themselves working in news reporting or video game design, for example.
Local school or weighted curriculum education?
Vuoniitty Comprehensive School provides weighted curriculum education in music and media. Weighted curriculum education in music starts in third and seventh grade, while weighted curriculum education in media starts in seventh grade. Weighted curriculum education involves studying a specific subject or subject area more than in general education.
In Helsinki, weighted curriculum education is available in digital visual arts, performance arts, visual arts, Latin, physical education, physical education and home economics, nature and science, mathematics, mathematics and natural sciences, media education, music, modern dance, art expression, dance, movement and expression, dance arts, technology education and communications.
To gain admission to weighted curriculum education, a pupil must take an aptitude test. The tests, which are held in January and February, include various exercises designed to test the pupil’s ability to study the weighted subject area they have applied for. The application period is in November-December and the application form is submitted in Wilma.
Learning by doing
According to teacher Arto, both weighted curricula are appealing to pupils. The popularity of weighted curriculum education in media has increased in particular in recent years.“We get a lot of pupils from outside the local school admission area, such as from East Helsinki,” Arto says.
Weighted curriculum education in media is included as a separate subject in the pupil’s timetable and studied two hours a week. Otherwise, their education proceeds according to the regular curriculum. In seventh grade, pupils learns about the different aspects of media production, such as filming, editing and interviewing. In the eighth and ninth grade, pupils can specialise in the type of media studies that interest them the most.
“Weighted curriculum education in media is based on learning by doing. We try to give pupils access to tools as soon as possible so that they can create their own media content. In addition to this, we teach pupils about media culture, media ethics and critical media literacy,” Arto says.
Visit to a newsroom
Pupils in weighted curriculum education in media also get to go on various visits and participate in projects outside of the school. For example, the media class has been involved in the Yle Uutisluokka media education project, in which young people decide what news to report on. The news are published on Yle channels and on the school's website.
According to Arto, weighted curriculum education in media is suitable for everyone who is interested in media – and perhaps working in the media sector in the future: “The aim is to establish a strong network of partners from the outset that offers opportunities to learn about further education and training.” The aptitude tests for sixth-graders take place in January and February. No prior skills are required: “The aptitude test is not about testing things like whether the pupil knows how to use various devices. Instead, it includes exercises that measure teamwork skills and visual perception, for example. There is no need to feel nervous about the test.”
Arto invites all sixth graders interested in weighted curriculum education in media to take part in the aptitude test: “It would be great to see more pupils with an immigrant background apply as well.”
The school gym is bustling. Ninth grade pupils in weighted curriculum education in music are preparing for the premiere of the musical Shrock, which is set to take place tomorrow. Ruut, 15, plays the role of the princess: “We've been training all autumn. This week we've been practising from morning to evening to prepare for the premiere.”
Music Teacher Susanna Hallaste has also been working long days, and enjoying every minute. This is the seventeenth musical she has overseen at Vuoniitty Comprehensive School: “The final project of the ninth graders in weighted curriculum education in music is always a great challenge and delight. We write the script ourselves and also write some of the songs. The roles are tailored to allow everyone to perform to the extent they want.” Pupils can start weighted curriculum education in music in either third or seventh grade. Those who started weighted curriculum education in music in third grade are automatically admitted to weighted curriculum education in music in seventh grade. “No prior background in music is required. Every year we also admit pupils who have never engaged in music as a hobby.”
Text: Eveliina Lauhio