Finnish Class Student Teachers’ Perceptions of Religious Education
Nyckelord:RELIGIOUS EDUCATION, TEACHER EDUCATION, PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHERS, STUDENT TEACHERS
In this article we explore the perceptions of religious education of Finnish class teacher students. The research questions are: (1) What makes RE an important, positive or negative subject?(2) How the students perceive RE? (3) How do students differ in their attitudes towards RE: (a) in different institutions, (b) based on the personal level of significance of religion, and(c) depending on gender?
The data was gathered with a survey that included qualitative open-ended questions and a quantitative section. The data was collected from students (N= 538) in eight teacher education institutions in Finland. According to the study most of the students view religious education as an important subject. They emphasize elements such as education in ethics and values, acquirement of cultural skills and the pupils’ growth as factors that make the subject important. In addition, the student teachers view the subject mostly in positive or neither positive nor negative terms. Pedagogical practice was considered both the solution and problem among the students when they evaluated the aspects that make RE positive and negative. There were some results connected to the personal significance and the location of the teacher education institution. However, gender and age did not make much of a difference to these perceptions.