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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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5. The first steps toward professionalism


After the Finnish Civil War, there were attempts to unify the values of Finnish citizens using the school system. Teachers embodied values that, in turn, unified the people.175 Teachers were selected for this demanding task according to certain criteria. The following were required of those applying to the first year of a female teacher training college: 1) Is 17 years of age or will turn 17 before the end of the calendar year, 2) has been vaccinated and has attended confirmation class, 3) has attended upper primary school, and 4) has musical tendencies and a healthy physique as certified by a doc- tor.176 Although there was no mention of an upper age limit for college appli- cants, in practice, those who were 30 years of age were considered to be too old177. In 1922, the college committee considered lowering the mini- mum age limit to 15, but as the minimum age for working as a qualified teacher was 20 years, the committee was satisfied with 17 years. It set an upper age limit of 22 years, when people’s thoughts were at their most productive.178 The aim was to select a group of a certain age for the col- lege so that it would be possible to influence their teacher image179. The acceptance criteria for the male teacher training college were very similar. The applicant had to have attended confirmation class, be at least 18 years of age, an upstanding and healthy young man, and proficient in at least the knowledge...

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