Talking About Sustainability in Teacher Preparation in Finland and the United States
Keywords:Teacher preparation; popularization of scientific concepts; science teacher preparation; mathematics teacher preparation; sustainability; Finland; United States
This article reports on empirical research findings from a case study of teacher education in Finland and the United States. A sociological perspective was deployed for investigating how the concept of sustainability was addressed in two teacher education programs. One of the programs was located in Finland and the other in the US. The study was carried out in 2015 and 2016. Seventeen semi-structured, open-ended, audio-recorded interviews form the core of the research materials. A thematic analysis of interviews was conducted for identifying articulations related to sustainability in subject-matter specialized teacher preparation. Findings from this study contribute to research on teacher preparation. Notably, by articulating how context-specific culture and social norms contribute to local models of teacher education. Findings from this study indicate that teacher training practices in Finland have encouraged students to articulate sustainability in relation to critical thinking, whereas in the US, sustainability has been articulated in relation to social justice. The key point supported by the evidence is that sustainability was by teachers and teacher educators conceptualized as being about the popularization of knowledge about ecology and biodiversity. The kind of communication that was by teachers and teacher educators described as effective for popularizing knowledge about scientific phenomena were forms of teaching that expanded on content-specific knowledge by connecting it to ethical and civic frameworks of the societies in which students live.
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