Monday, 12 October 2009

Teacher Training: Major Reforms, Part One

In 1971, the Teacher Training Act moved all teacher training to the university level. These teacher training reforms mirror the school reforms of the 1970s. Seven universities at that time had teacher training departments, one of them Swedish-speaking. These programs all led to a master's degree in education, the formal training for all teachers in Finland, including the primary school level.

Primary teacher training, originally a three-year program at teacher training colleges, expanded to a four-year, then finally five-year programs in universities in the late 1970s (Sahlberg, 2007). The reforms to prepare teachers as professionals and researchers create the foundations of teacher training reforms.

The attention to teacher training within the general educational reforms illustrated the objective of professionalizing and "academizing" teacher training (Begrem, et al., 1997). It also closed the gap between educational science and teacher education. Finnish teachers, even those not currently engaged in any educational research, thus maintain a strong knowledge of educational theory (ibid.).

Finnish teacher training maintains popularity and high quality. In 1982, only 10% of applicants were accepted into teacher training programs (Whittaker, 1983).

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