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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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3. At the roots of the Finnish school system


3.1. Aiming to produce educated citizens for society In 1723, a royal decree stated that parents had to teach their children to read or send them to be taught by the parish under threat of a fine. In 1773, confirmation classes were made compulsory, and in 1776, it was declared that the literacy skills of parishioners had to be checked before they took their first Holy Communion. The education organised by the church em- phasised teaching literacy and learning the catechism and Christian doc- trines. Supporters of the primary school ideology advocated separating education from the administration of the church and making it the respon- sibility of society, but the church did not approve, fearing that the teaching at primary schools would be too liberal. The content of the Finnish school system and the direction of education were defined by the church until the middle of the 19th century. Beginning in the Reformation, the corner- stones of education had been the Lord’s Prayer, the Confession of Faith, and the Ten Commandments.70 Uno Cygnaeus (1810–1888), who founded the Finnish primary school system, adopted the basic idea of Pestalozzi’s pedagogy,71 which states that investing in the education of individuals is important from a social development perspective. Each adult was to make sure that children expe- rienced “even development of body and soul.” Schools were to teach both theoretical and practical subjects, such as crafts and gymnastics. The task of the school was to make sure that information became internalised in...

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