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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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8. The formation of the teacher image


8.1. The first steps toward professionalism Students with basic capabilities for work as a teacher, their journey toward professional maturity began when they applied to become a student and were accepted into the college. Student admission comprised a two-phase selection method. In the first phase, the college’s board of teachers read application papers and chose a group of students out of hundreds of appli- cants to take part in entrance examinations. The applicants demonstrated that they met the criteria set for entrance into the college using various proof and certifications—he or she had to be at least 17 years old and had to have attended confirmation class, completed upper primary school, and be physically healthy and musically gifted. The second selection phase consisted of entrance examinations. They lasted several days, during which prospective students demonstrated their skills in various subjects. The board of teachers selected those applicants who were seen as most suitable for working as lower primary school teach- ers to become trial students. The trial student phase lasted for 6 months. During this period, the student was to demonstrate good behaviour and success in his or her studies. After the trial period, a student could become a permanent student. The teacher training college paid plenty of attention to entrance exami- nations, and the possibility of an applicant being educated as a teacher was evaluated from many perspectives. In Finland, the methods for selecting students for entrance into teacher training were continuously changing, and even today, student selection...

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