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The Historical Background of School System and Teacher Image in Finland

Merja Paksuniemi

The purpose of the book is to identify and describe the teacher image that was inherent at the teacher training colleges in Finland during 1921 to 1945. It also points out what kind of pedagogical philosophies influenced the foundation of the Finnish school system. The book provides a historical point of view of teaching at the teacher training colleges and introduces the pedagogical methods which were used. The focus is on a teacher training college for women, located in Northern Finland, Tornio.

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1. Introduction

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The basic factors of a Finnish teacher’s professional identity are defined by society1. Teaching is bound by culture and is moulded both through the skills required for daily work and a society’s expectations of the task of a teacher. As society changes, so does the role of a teacher.2 A teacher’s task is not only to impart the prevalent social and cultural values to his or her pupils, but also to act as a force for societal reform. A teacher should be a critic and a reformer, guiding pupils toward critical thinking concern- ing the prevalent conditions. Criticism and reflection make societal reform possible.3 Earlier research focusing on the Finnish teacher training system has focused mostly on the subjects taught at teacher training colleges4. Prac- tical skills and other college activities, on the other hand, have received less attention. How should the teacher image be studied from an historical perspective? What factors influence the teacher image? In this study, the teacher image will be examined from the following perspectives: the first step toward the teaching profession; the development of the teacher per- sonality; and the process factors that strengthen the teacher image. With the help of the source material, I will study the requirements of entrance tests for teacher training programmes, the selection of applicants, the teaching of practical skills, and what is emphasised in college supplemen- tary activities. The aim of this research is to clarify the teacher training process and to focus on the following perspectives: What kinds...

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