The maker movement in Finnish education dates to 1866 when craft education was accepted as a compulsory subject in the school curriculum (Rasinen, Ikonen, & Rissanen, 2006). The subject has emphasised design, innovation, creativity and aesthetics, as well as the use of science and mathematics knowledge in the design activities. Workshops were established in every school for supporting students design, create and share useful artefacts. Therefore, there has been a long ‘maker tradition’ in Finnish compulsory school.
In the past 10 years, the challenges of the Finnish education system were discussed in a similar way to Taiwan and Singapore, as described in this introductory section. The discussion was done, for example, in different forums and national projects, such as the National Teacher Education Forum (Ministry of Education and Culture [MEC], 2016) and the Basic Education Forum (MEC, 2018); the following questions have guided the discussion (Vahtivuori-Hänninen et al., 2014):
These questions facilitated also the discussion during the design of the National Core curriculum for Basic Education (NCCBE) (Finnish National Board of Education [FNBE], 2014). The NCCBE introduced transversal competences, which were grouped in the following categories: taking care of oneself, managing daily life; multiliteracy; digital competence; working life competence; entrepreneurship; participation involvement; building a sustainable future; thinking and learning how to learn; and cultural competence, interaction and expression. In order to achieve these transversal competences, the curriculum recommends that teachers encourage their students to engage in scientific and engineering practices (cf. Krajcik & Shin, 2015), like:
Critical and creative knowledge practices, such as searching for information and generating new ideas
Collaborative knowledge building, and the use of knowledge in different situations
Constructing and working with abstract or concrete artefacts, like texts and concept maps, Lego robots and 3D printers, along with digital tools in different learning environments both in and out of school.
Consequently, the original idea related to the use of workshop in the design and creative activities has resurfaced in the NCCBE.
Recommendations related to scientific and engineering or design practices have also been significant to the maker movement over the past decade. According to Halverson and Sheridan (2014), the maker movement emphasises active involvement in the use of knowledge and creative design, the production of physical and digital artefacts and sharing these artefacts with others. Digital tools and devices have made it possible to promote a new kind of entrepreneurial spirit in terms of designing products and providing services for other people.
In addition to describing the transversal competences included in the NCCBE, the goals for these competences were examined through subject-specific aims of the curriculum. This approach was intended to help teachers understand the meaning of the competences and how they should be developed (Halinen, 2018). The science and technology curriculum, as a part of the NCCBE, emphasised core scientific and technological knowledge, with inquiry and design processes being promoted as necessary for learning science. The inquiry and design processes included both critical and creative thinking, which are also considered to be essential transversal competences.
During the inquiry process, critical thinking is needed to identify research questions and connect a specific claim with evidence. Creative thinking is also required when designing an artefact because students must consider unusual and radical ideas related to the design. Furthermore, they need to develop their critical thinking skills whilst taking into account several points of view related to the design and evaluation of their ideas. Maker activities are also useful for promoting scientific and engineering practices, as they teach students to study both the natural world and the world of design, making them effective for achieving the aims outlined in the NCCBE. Digital tools can be used for building designs that are apt for 3D printers. Whilst engaged in maker activities, students generate innovative ideas, as well as create and develop interesting things in digital and concrete forms, using both new and old technologies. Such activities encourage students to take part in the creation process and start making things on their own (Dougherty, 2012; Martin, 2015).
Many developments and research projects, competitions and TV series have been supportive of the maker movement. For example, the 6-year LUMA-SUOMI program (2013–2019) (https://suomi.luma.fi/blogi/), funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture for €5 million euros, is responsible for increasing the quality of science learning and outcomes, including creativity and student engagement in cooperation with teachers, schools, parents, administrators and stakeholders.
Currently, there are several research projects in Finland focused on developing innovations in education, including maker activities, that follow the new curriculum. For example, Professor Kai Hakkarainen is leading the Co4-Lab (2018) project (https://www.helsinki.fi/co4lab), which supports pedagogic development in schools by using long-standing research. Practices of invention pedagogy are developed together with schools through repeated explorative cycles of investigation. The project is committed to the open sharing of pedagogic innovations and seeks collaboration with schools committed to pedagogic development. Co4-Lab also organises inspiring maker and creative school projects in primary and lower secondary schools.
In a competition called This Is Working—Moving Toy, only certain materials, specified in the list of materials, can be used in the construction of a moving toy. The toy must be creatively designed from materials recycled in the school, so nothing needs to be purchased. This encourages students to think about the rational use of materials: what is needed and how to make it. Ideas should be discovered by the children themselves or in cooperation with one another. The competition is organised each year; local competitions are held all over Finland, followed by a nationwide final competition.
In summary, at a strategic level, the maker movement is well recognised and emphasised in the Finnish NCCBE and in school practice. Several examples of maker-related development and research projects exist, and they continue to support the development of maker-based education.