‘Human rights and democracy are not self-evident’: Finnish student teachers’ perceptions on democracy and human rights education
This article discusses democracy and human rights education (DHRE) in Finnish teacher education, drawing on existing literature, curricula and a survey of student teachers’ perceptions. Earlier studies suggested that DHRE in Finnish teacher education is unsystematic, implicit, and dependent on the teacher’s individual interests. These studies highlight a sense of national exceptionalism, where DHRE is assumed to be self-evident. In 2019, we conducted a survey of student teachers (n=300) in one university. Data content analysis reveals that student teachers now see DHRE as relevant and timely, and by no means self-evident. Student teachers believe that DHRE needs to be explicit and part of their professional education. Although the Finnish national curriculum addresses DHRE explicitly, there is a lack of implementation and explicit DHRE teacher education. We contend that the data reflects societal change, and that the notion that democracy and human rights are self-evident needs to be challenged in Finland.
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