The Dialogue between Authority and the Human Spirit
The author gives an overview of the Teachers’ Newsletter he edits and the Haridus (Education) mailing list. This list has 750 subscribers.
In addition to students, teachers, school directors and educational science faculty, a number of Ministry of Education staff and MPs take part. The writer, who has studied in the Nordic countries, considers his list to be a manifestation of civic society. At the same time the education list is a reminder of the enrichment training for teachers and school administrators, since the problems being discussed are analyzed due to the participation of educational experts fairly thoroughly.
The more important discussion topic has been how to prepare an educational strategy for Estonia: whether to proceed from expert recommendations or political consensus? Typical discussions: should education be subject-centered and child-centered? Should schools be “temples of knowledge” or service organizations? Does the grading system encourage students to learn or is it a disciplinary measure? Should there be standardized national examinations or should every school administer its own? There are many other questions.
In three and a half years, over 15,000 e-mails have been exchanged in the list. Half of the 750 list members have posted at least twice, while the rest have merely browsed. Leading contributors by institution are the parliament with 519 postings; the Ministry of Education, 303: University of Tartu, 749; the Tallinn College of Educational Science, 741; the Tiigrihüpe information technology center, 432; county governments, 292 and education-related non-profit organizations, 277.
According to University of Tartu Law Institute professor Ülo Vooglaid, the mailing list shapes the new culture of thought and lays the ground for education reform in Estonia.