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Empowered Educators in Finland: How High-Performing Systems Shape Teaching Quality

ISBN: 978-1-119-36971-4
96 pages
April 2017, Jossey-Bass
Empowered Educators in Finland: How High-Performing Systems Shape Teaching Quality (1119369711) cover image



Empowered Educators in Finland is one volume in a series that explores how high- performing educational systems from around the world achieve strong results. The anchor book, Empowered Educators: How High-Performing Systems Shape Teaching Quality Around the World, is written by Linda Darling-Hammond and colleagues, with contributions from the authors of this volume.

Empowered Educators in Finland explores Finland's unique approach to teacher training that, combined with a national focus on equity and children, has led to strong student results on the OECD PISA and other international tests.

Since the 1930s, every child born in Finland has been provided with a box of clothes, sheets, toys, diapers, and even a small mattress; the box itself can—and often does—serve as a simple crib. Intended to ensure that all Finnish children begin with the essentials, this box also serves as a clear symbol of the nation's emphasis on equality and opportunity.

This book describes how what is commonly thought to be "just a part of Finnish culture" is actually the result of strong support for educators at all levels of government. From the Ministry of Education and Culture, to the Finnish National Board of Education, to regional and local policy makers, Finland has made deliberate choices to create and support a strong educational system. While there are unique political, cultural, and societal features of Finland—as with all countries—there are many lessons to be learned and practical ideas to be implemented across the world.

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Table of Contents

Foreword v

Acknowledgments ix

About the Sponsoring Organizations xiii

About the Authors xv

Online Documents and Videos xix

The Context 4

Finnish Policies and Practices of Teacher Education 10

Subject Teacher Education 29

The Teachers’ Academy at the University of Helsinki 32

After Graduation: Supports for Quality Teaching in Schools 33

The Role of the Teacher in Finnish Schools 33

Multiculturalism in Schools 39

Teacher Appraisal in Finnish Schools: A Focus upon Personal Responsibility and Feedback for Growth 40

Teachers’ Careers: Organic and Local Novice and Professional Development 44

Decisions for the Future of Quality Teaching in Finland 51

A Case of the “Construction” of Teacher Quality 54

Aligned and Coherent Policies around Teaching and Teacher Preparation 55

An Investment in Learning to Teach in Practice Paired with Considerable Theoretical Support 56

A Focus upon Teachers’ Agency and Responsibility 56

A Conception of Professional Development as Organic, Local, and In-time 57

A Focus upon Children—and a Refl ection of Key Ideas in Child Development 57

A Continued Investment in Strengthening Teacher Education 59

Looking Ahead 59

Sample Documents 60

Notes 61

Appendix: Methodology 63

References 65

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Author Information

KAREN HAMMERNESS is the director of Educational Research and Evaluation at the American Museum of Natural History. Her research focuses on US and international teacher education.

RAISA AHTIAINEN is a special education needs teacher and a project researcher at the Centre for Educational Assessment, University of Helsinki. Her recent work includes an investigation into issues of technology in education in Finnish schools and an examination of an initiative promoting multiculturalism in Finnish schools.

PASI SAHLBERG is author of Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? and is an international expert on teacher policies and education, educational leadership, and educational change. Twitter: @pasi_sahlberg

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