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Heidi Rautionmaa and Arto Kallioniemi

Arto Kallioniemi and Martin Ubani

The Finnish solution for RE in public education is a unique model if we compare it to the solutions used in other European countries. In Finland RE is given according to the pupils’ own religions. The Finnish model of RE implies the idea of democratic, civil society, where different faiths, beliefs and worldviews can coexist. The curriculum of RE in Finland emphasises religious literacy and religious competence. Furthermore, elements of cultural heritage and identity are also present in the curriculum. The pupils need skills for inter-religious dialogue and also skills for living in a multi-religious society. The Finnish approach to RE emphasises tolerance towards others. The subject teachers of RE have very good education; they have a master’s degree from a university and they are also qualified to teach some other school subject, usually psychology. Although RE is not a PISA-subject it has a role in comprehensive education in supporting the formulation of pupils’ attitudes and worldviews in Finnish schools.

Hannele Niemi, Auli Toom and Arto Kallioniemi


How to be Prepared to Face the Future?

Hannele Niemi, Auli Toom and Arto Kallioniemi

Hannele Niemi, Auli Toom and Arto Kallioniemi

Miracle of Education

The Principles and Practices of Teaching and Learning in Finnish Schools (Second Revised Edition)

Edited by Hannele Niemi, Auli Toom and Arto Kallioniemi

Finnish pupils’ success in international student assessment tests and the characteristics of the Finnish educational system are the focus of interest all around in the world. The significance of Finnish educational policy and societal atmosphere are continuously discussed. This book provides explanations, answers and reflections to these questions. Over 30 expert authors have contributed to this book by bringing their own specific research-based points of view.
The second edition of the book introduces the new national curriculum for basic education that now provides guidelines for school-based curricula. Students’ learning with engagement and schools as learning communities are core visions of the reform. The authors also reflect on the PISA 2012 results. The book gives an example on how to use PISA information for national improvements. In Finland, all evaluations are enhancement-led and this also includes PISA measurements.
The book illustrates how teaching and learning of different subjects is realized in Finnish schools and describes the essential characteristics and methods of teaching, learning materials and research on these issues.
The book provides important insight and reflections to international researchers, teachers, students, journalists and policy makers, who are interested in teaching and learning in Finnish schools. It shows the results of the systematic and persistent work that has been done on education and schooling in Finland.
The main features of education in Finland are:
- Strong equity policy.
- Teachers as autonomous and reflective academic experts.
- Flexible educational structures and local responsibility for curriculum development.
- Evaluation for improvements, not for ranking.
- No national testing, no inspectorate.
- Research-based teacher education.
- Teachers’ high competence in content knowledge and pedagogy.
- Trust in education and teachers.

The Role of Teachers in the Finnish Educational System

High Professional Autonomy and Responsibility

Hannele Niemi, Jari Lavonen, Arto Kallioniemi and Auli Toom

The aim of this chapter is to introduce the main features of the Finnish educational system and how they are related to teachers’ work. The chapter describes teachers’ professional autonomy and responsibilities in the Finnish schools. Many cornerstones, such as equity, for example, have remained principle to organizing education and schooling, but multiple societal changes and changing conceptions of teaching learning and knowledge set new demands for teachers. Currently, the Finnish educational system is in the middle of significant reforms at all levels of education that bring many demands to teachers’ pre- and in-service training. This chapter summarizes the key elements of the reforms and reflects on how teachers and schools could be supported in the midst of these reforms and how they could become learning communities both for students and teachers.

Hannele Niemi, Auli Toom, Arto Kallioniemi and Jari Lavonen

This chapter summarizes the main themes that emerged in the individual articles of the book. Even though the contexts of the presented countries differed, the primary questions from each were quite similar. Many reflections focused on teachers’ professional autonomy, their voice in reforms, and their pedagogical leadership in both centralized and decentralized systems. Solutions varied, depending on the system, but a common theme was that high expectations and many tensions related to teachers’ professional roles and their contributions to educational systems exist. Teachers’ work has expanded both in and outside classrooms along with the requirements to support students’ learning of twenty-first-century skills and competencies. Therefore, teachers need to learn new methods and establish new partnerships with other teachers and educational actors, including administrators. Teachers’ professional work requires autonomy and support. It also requires that their viewpoints be considered when reforms are planned so that they have opportunities to take leadership roles in and ownership of their own work. The chapter concludes by stating that teachers are part of educational ecosystems; therefore, we must identify, analyze, and manage educational systems and their subsystems and understand what comprises teachers’ roles within the systems. Teachers’ work depends on macro-level systems as well as institutional cultures; however, they are also actors who influence those systems and processes.

The Teacher’s Role in the Changing Globalizing World

Resources and Challenges Related to the Professional Work of Teaching

Edited by Hannele Niemi, Auli Toom, Arto Kallioniemi and Jari Lavonen

The teacher's role is changing rapidly throughout the world. Traditional ways of working as a teacher are being challenged and teachers are faced with new areas of expertise they need to manage as educational professionals. These characteristics, challenges, and changes in the teacher’s role have been identified internationally and are both conceptual and practical. Teachers’ work now includes much more than teaching in classrooms and has expanded to designing new learning environments, collaboration and networking with others and mentoring colleagues. The Teacher’s Role in the Changing Globalizing World addresses the significance of considering these issues, researching them, and emphasising the importance of actively influencing and protecting the parameters of the teacher role.