Reclaimed – “Teacher Education in Finland”

August 19, 2012 Off By JR

You can find all kinds of information about the Finnish teacher education programs, so for this post I may only show some blurbs from my notes.

There are four factors that result in a strong teaching profession:

  1. common, consistent, long-term policy
  2. educational equality
  3. devolution of decision power to the local level
  4. culture of trust (ok, heard this before. it may be a result of a long history of highly educated teachers, similar to how doctors and lawyers may have been the only highly educated people in a community)

What are some similarities in teacher education in high performing PISA countries?

  • two types of teachers
    • primary (gr 1-6)
    • secondary or subject (gr 7-12)

What I found interesting about the subject teacher education here was that the students are in school for about 5 years and finish with a master’s degree (300 cr).

  • major
    • 85 UG + 85 Gr
  • minor
    • 50 UG + 10 Gr
  • pedagogy
    • 25 UG + 35 Gr
  • communication/language
    • 20 UG + 5 Gr

I am still running the comparison to our programs at the University of Saskatchewan. One interesting note is that there are two small theses, and one master’s thesis. One thesis is for the BSc (say for physics) and one is a pedagogical thesis. Then from what I understand there is a master’s thesis in the major subject area, but it can have a pedagogical component.

Two main approaches to assuring high quality teachers were presented; outcome based, and input based. Output based is more behaviouristic and uses techniques that may be found in industry. It focuses on the product, describes discrete outcomes (used for test design) and neglect teaching as a process. This approach focuses on competition and possibly teaching to the test. On the other hand the input model reflects an enhancement-led model. Assessment is used for improvements rather than punishment (be aware of what people say and what they do). Input models focus on learning as a process and describe larger aims for learning, have an emphasis on co-planning, and teachers conduct the assessments. However, this approach has an inherent issue around discussing the quality of learning outcomes.

So lets ask the class, “how would we improve the quality in teacher education?”
Our suggestions fit into about four categories

  1. paradigms
  2. education problems (courses, aims for courses)
  3. induction phase (supporting professionals early on)
  4. motivation (working hours, pay)

The University of Helsinki approach to redesigning their teacher education program is influenced by a couple of variables (anyone that saw the movie tonight understand why I chose the word ‘variables’)

  • research based model (subject, teaching & learning, needs of learners, policy/history)
  • content
  • research on teacher education: structure of teacher knowledge, forms of knowledge (professional…practical)
  • EU and national strategies
  • Feedback from the students on learning outcomes and evaluations of the program

In the afternoon we dove a little deeper into subject teacher education specifically. (maybe more on that later).

This evening the summer schoolers attended “Lapland Odyssey” at the Finnish Film Foundation. It was a pretty cool theatre, comfortable chairs, they actually had pull out tables on the back of each chair, and the movie was hilarious. We followed that up with some socializing at the local watering holes. What I noticed, and liked a lot, about the movie was the lack of special effects. The camera work, and finer details were of far superior quality compared to many of the blockbuster films I have seen lately. There is still value in old techniques, and computers cannot necessarily replace that. Too bad Hollywood has forgotten its roots.