Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

At the Roots of Finnish Elementary Education - How Were Children Raised in the First Finnish Elementary Schools?

Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

At the Roots of Finnish Elementary Education - How Were Children Raised in the First Finnish Elementary Schools?

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study dissects the history of Finnish elementary education and the way children were raised during the initial phase of Finnish education in the 18th century. The development of Finnish education was studied through contemporary decrees and laws and studies of Finnish school history. The preliminary aim was to focus on the principles and practices of raising children in Finnish schools. This study focuses on (1) describing the birth, goals, and practices of Finnish elementary education and development toward compulsory education, (2) describing the way children were raised toward the contemporary goals, and (3) dissecting the connection between teacher training and the goals of raising children in Finnish schools. All these viewpoints are discussed from the viewpoint of how the aspirations and objectives were realized and implemented in practice in raising children. As a conclusion, we discuss the influence of the past in today's educational practices.

Keywords: Education, History of Education, Finnish Educational System, Child Raising, Elementary Education.

Introduction

Nowadays, in developed countries such as Finland, both parents of the vast majority of families with children under school age are in full-time employment. Along with the changes in working life, the role of day-care centers and schools in rearing has strengthened (Maatta & Uusiautti, 2012). Professionals define what is good child rearing and what kind of rearing should be implemented inside citizens' homes. The rearing task has become professionalized (Bimbi, 1992; Greenwood & Hickman, 1991) and from the parents' point of view, parenthood can be considered shared with public education institutions (Bauch, 1994; Bjornberg, 1992; Cutting, 1998).

In the society of rapid change, the future generation is likely to differ from the present and therefore, educational systems are in constant change too (Jakku-Sihvonen & Niemi, 2007; Naumanen & Rinne, 2008). The changes cause uncertainty about the norms and what kind of rearing is the best for children (see Lahikainen & Strandell, 1987; Young, 1995) and what would be the best for the society too (e.g. Milligan, Morretti, & Oreopoulos, 2004); and this topic is under constant debate (see e.g. Howard, 2003). This kind of development is evident in the educational history of Finland (lisalo, 1979; see also Simola, 2005).

In this article, we direct our attention to the past. We dissect the history of Finnish elementary education and the way children were raised during the initial phase of Finnish education. Here, the concept of elementary education refers to the first form of basic education in Finland but which was not yet defined compulsory or comprehensive. Certain educational trends influenced on Finnish educational system laying the foundation of today's Finnish education. Our article focuses on the period that started in the 18th century and the development of Finnish education was studied through contemporary decrees and laws and studies of Finnish school history. The article is based on our previous educational historical studies on the history of Finnish teacher training colleges (Paksuniemi, 2009; Paksuniemi & Maatta, 2011a,b,c; Paksuniemi, Uusiautti, &Maatta, 2012, 2014) complemented with a review of previous research and an analysis of relevant laws and decrees. Our preliminary aim was to focus on the principles and practices of raising children in Finnish schools.

This article focuses on (1) describing the birth, goals, and practices of Finnish elementary education and development toward compulsory education, (2) describing the way children were raised toward the contemporary goals, and (3) dissecting the connection between teacher training and the goals of raising children in Finnish schools. All these viewpoints are discussed from the viewpoint of how the aspirations and objectives were realized and implemented in practice in raising children. …

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