Finland has been topping multiple rankings for many years in a row. When it comes to school education, the country attracted a huge interest around its successful results in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2000. It came first among 32 OECD countries in reading, third in science and fourth in maths, and has been hovering around the top countries since then. Here the success can be attributed to many things: timely policy shifts, teaching methodologies, etc. But one success ingredient of the recipe is undeniable – teachers with well-rounded skills and sound knowledge of their subject.
As the European Union sees entrepreneurial skills an integral factor contributing to the creation of welfare, the inclusion of entrepreneurship courses into the Finnish university curriculum for teachers doesn’t seem to be odd. University of Turku (further UT) is one of the first universities in Finland that made entrepreneurship training modules for pre-service teachers compulsory. Up till now, the entrepreneurship modules are offered to teacher students both as obligatory and elective courses. This year, UT offers a renewed 3-ECTS elective Enterprise Education in Basic Education that will allow students to embark on an exciting journey of entrepreneurial self-discovery.
Teaching + entrepreneurship: compatible?
According to Jaana Lepistö, Adjunct Professor at UT whose expertise revolves around Entrepreneurship and Craft Education, with the course Enterprise Education in Basic Education they are trying to achieve three main goals. First, students will unearth possibilities of applying operating methods based on entrepreneurship to teaching in basic education. They will see how entrepreneurial pedagogy can find its way and may be implemented in their teaching work in comprehensive schools. Second, teacher students will be structurally guided through the corpus of national and international research on entrepreneurial education so that they can form a pedagogical idea of how to put it into practice. And third, the elective course will allow students to explore entrepreneurship from different perspectives and see how they can engage in cooperation with various societal stakeholders and make use of them in their teaching.
What’s in the pack?
The elective course Enterprise Education in Basic Education has been modified several times during its existence to stay relevant to the demands of the modern school system as well as address its future challenges. Currently, the course comprises, but is not limited to, the following topics:
– entrepreneurial education terminology;
– basics of entrepreneurial pedagogy;
– methods of operation related to entrepreneurial pedagogy in comprehensive education;
– entrepreneurship as a social phenomenon;
– active participation and inclusion as part of the teaching work;
– school as a community and co-operation;
– development of the school organisation and school activities and societal challenges;
– contacts with parties outside of the school.
Modes of study
As many other courses, this elective includes a variety of lectures delivered by both the responsible course lecturer and external experts from the field. The course also suggests ten hours of group studies, six of which are school visits. During these visits, teacher students observe the implementation of entrepreneurship concepts in the classroom by their more experienced colleagues. However, a fair share of the course is required to be done individually. Like true entrepreneurs, UT teacher students submerge into the exploratory search of their own unique possible application of entrepreneurial skills. So far, this elective has been offered only in the Finnish language.
Though already being a highly prestigious professional field in Finland, teaching occupation keeps evolving into new phases what allows fully-fledged teacher graduates to safely experiment in classrooms with new methodologies.