The Construction of Finnish Teacher Education

In this study the historical construction of Finnish teacher education from the beginning of the 20th century to date is scrutinized. Especially the education of primary school teachers changed drastically when university education replaced teacher’s colleges. From the 1970s onward practically every teacher in Finland has been educated in the university. Also, so called subject teachers education has experienced the strengthening of educational sciences. Because of academization teacher educators’ duties have altered as they are expected to concentrate nowadays more on research than instruction. Teacher students should adopt research-based ideology in their studies and when they have graduated they are expected to practice according to that ideology. In our study, we have researched these policies and changes that have taken place in teacher education and how they have affected all those concerned.

In separate volumes of the study we have examined teacher training and didactical textbooks for teacher students. Also, committee reports and evaluation reports (where agendas are clearly stated) concerning teacher education have been researched not to forget writings of eminent teacher educators. In these documents the academization process is noticeable. The balance between theory and practice, the truly perennial question of teacher education, has been studied thoroughly. By studying this balance, we have tried to understand how the expectations of academic life meet the quite practical demands of teacher’s everyday work. In our studies, we have used historical method and rhetorical analysis, which we have found rather productive and analytical tool. Especially when studying critically the prevailing Finnish teacher education, which tends to represent itself as international, high-quality and clearly research-based context.

The first stage our project has concentrated on making as thorough view of the development and the central ideas of the Finnish teacher education as possible. Most of our published papers deal with these themes. Also, we are doing co-operation with researchers accomplishing teacher education research in Sweden (Kampen om lärarutbildungen: Aktörer och paradigm i Sverige och Finland 1946–2011) and Chile. In the second stage of our study we are looking forward to examine how teacher students appreciate their education and especially how teacher education have affected orientations and practical skills in teachers’ everyday work.

Associate Professor Jari Salminen, Associate Professor Janne Säntti, PhD Mikko Puustinen, MA Anna Koski, MA Ari Vuorio, MA Yenny Hinostroza Paredes