During my first week in Jyvaskyla, I met my University of Jyvaskyla adviser who is a lecturer in the Department of Education and her specialty is textiles. The University of Jyvaskyla has one of the largest teacher training programs in Finland.
Later that week, she took me to the Norssi school (grades 1-9) located on the University campus to observe a practicum student. In Finland, students attend their neighborhood school and Norssi is the neighborhood school for the area around the University. It is where teacher candidates from the University begin to teach lessons. My adviser and I along with the students’ classroom teacher were scheduled to observe a young woman teaching her first textile lesson.
When we arrived at the classroom, the young woman, who looked like a high school student herself, was preparing for the lesson and came over to sit with us for a few minutes before the class started. After a moment of introductions, she broke down in tears from nerves. She exclaimed, “this my dream job, one I have been preparing for it for all my life.” She was shaking she was so nervous. I was taken aback by her emotion and desire to be a teacher. In that moment, I reflected on the status of teaching in primary and secondary school as a career in the U.S.: it is not highly respected.
In Finland, teaching is one of the most respected professions and only students at the very top of their class are accepted to teacher education programs. At the Fulbright Finland Orientation, we learned that in Finland it is harder to be accepted to a teacher training school than to medical school. Imagine.
My adviser explained the process for acceptance at the University of Jyvaskyla Education program.
This is not for a job but for place in a teacher education program. Imagine.
Teaching is a complex and complicated job. A successful teacher needs content knowledge and a variety of skills and characteristics to do the job well. They are:
In the long term, more rigorous requirements and assessment of whether a person is well suited for the profession might benefit teacher candidates and school aged students. Imagine.
I am a high school art teacher from Boulder Valley School District in Colorado studying craft education in Jyvaskyla, Finland. I am in Finland through a grant from the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching program and the Fulbright Finland Foundation.