Developing students’ enterprise and proactive approaches to life have been goals of Finnish public education since its introduction. Still, education in Finland today is criticized for not reaching these goals and for overlooking the development of students’ enterprise. The role of enterprise education is ambivalent. On the one hand, enterprise education is advocated as the solution to many of the alleged problems in public education; on the other hand, the pedagogical ideas that enterprise education builds on appear to coincide with the contemporary understanding of “good education.” The thesis discusses what sets enterprise education apart from other types of education and teaching. Notably, the pedagogical foundations for enterprise education are not necessarily solid or sufficiently explored. Thus, the overall aim of the thesis is to explore the conditions for developing enterprise in education.
Sloyd, as a school subject that promotes handicraft-based education, has long been attributed as having the potential to develop students’ character and person; similarly, it is also identified as being well suited for developing student enterprise. Enterprise education is not specific to sloyd, however. In fact, developing enterprise is a cross-curricular goal for basic education. In a subject-focused educational structure and culture, the development of an enterprising mindset in students is a common concern for all teachers. Thus, an understanding of the conditions for enterprise education must not be limited to one school subject; rather, the nature of the phenomenon requires a cross-curricular approach. Altogether, the conditions for enterprise education appear to be in need of further research. In addition to a subject-focused structure, other influencing factors that are mentioned in discussions on enterprise education include the need for a more enterprising working culture in school. Importantly, another key factor is the individual teacher’s pedagogical philosophy, which constitutes the frame of reference that informs how he or she understands and interprets his or her profession. Notably, the conditions for enterprise education are poor unless a teacher’s pedagogical philosophy emphasizes a focus on enterprise.
The empirical research uses a hermeneutical approach and focuses on exploring teachers’ views on the conditions for reaching the national goals related to students’ enterprise. The interview study was conducted among class and subject teachers around Swedish-speaking Finland. The study shows that teachers view themselves as the most important factor for a focus on enterprise. Teachers have also identified a vast number of contextual factors that influence, support, or counteract a focus on enterprise. Structure, culture, resources, and curriculum, as well as numerous societal factors, all interact to affect the conditions for enterprise education. The prevailing culture of subject focus poses a challenge to enterprise education. At the same time, however, a focus on enterprise can be seen as a natural tendency in grades one to six. Indeed, teachers of all grade levels interpret the development of a proactive approach to life as one of education’s core values. Altogether, the thesis offers a deepened and nuanced understanding of the conditions for enterprise education. While the public education system in Finland seems to have some favourable basic conditions for enterprise education, multifaceted challenges must be faced if the national goals related to enterprise are to be reached.
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
|MoE publication type||G4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)|