“Many have been waiting for such an education opportunity, so the students who were admitted are happy and enthusiastic. We’ve gotten off to a good start,” states Gunilla Holm, who holds a Swedish-language professorship in education. “We had a large number of applicants, so we could pick the best students.”
The programme will accept 40 new students each year, so that in 2020 there will be 200 students. The staff in the growing programme will be gradually increased. This year, the Swedish class teacher programme now has four university lecturers. In autumn 2017, five more university lecturers and two professors or assistant professors will be employed. These positions are currently open for applications.
During their first autumn of studies, the new class teacher students have shared courses with education students as well as subject teacher and kindergarten teacher students.
“In schools, teachers often work in multi-professional teams together with school welfare officers and guidance counsellors. Now the students get to work together with other professional groups already during their studies,” says Holm.
Theory and practice support each other
Students have also learned to understand and value research-based education. During one course, they got to follow research work in person.
“They have realised that research is important, interesting, fun and valuable,” Holm explains. Theory and practice have been balanced.
Study visits and observation in a real school environment have let the students see the school world while still studying at the University. In the spring, they will have their first practical training period.
The focus areas of the Swedish-language class teacher education are multilingualism, diversity and social justice in the Swedish-speaking schools of Finland. These focus areas run through the studies; for example, the students have visited a multilingual school. During their very first course, the students did exercises where they were asked to consider the privileges of their own position while understanding that many groups in society are held back, for example due to a lower ability to function. This prepares students to recognise social injustice and understand various groups in society.
Changes in Swedish-speaking education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences
With the education reform in autumn 2017, the education at the Faculty will consist of a single degree programme with nine study options, out of which three are in Swedish: class teacher education, kindergarten teacher education, and general and adult education.
The number of new students admitted to kindergarten teacher education will increase next autumn, when cooperation with Åbo Akademi University comes to an end. The bilingual programme for subject teachers will be able to intensify its Swedish-language profile, as the resources of class teacher education will enable education studies for teachers to be offered in Swedish.