What is the Future of ECE Teacher Profession? Teacher’s Agency in Finland Through the Lenses of Policy Documents
The education system and teacher training programs in Finland have been under reform for the past decade. All policy documents in the field of early childhood education have been renewed and this has influenced both teaching training practices and teachers’ work as well. Teachers are challenged to implement pedagogical methods to support children in becoming active agents of their learning. Further, teachers should be active agents in their own professional development. Finnish teachers’ competences and quality of the teaching are defined in recent policy documents that introduce the future competences of teachers, including expertise agency and innovative approach. The aim of this research is to understand and critically evaluate the teacher’s agency and agentic approach of these recent policy documents through thematic content analysis. In total, three policy documents were analyzed. As our theoretical framework we describe the agentic and life-long-learning approach in the educational context. We explain the Finnish early childhood education context, and current policies and practice within the field of ECEC in Finland through the viewpoint of teachers’ agency and competence. According to the results, the focus in the analysed documents was more on today and less on future aspects of the teacher’s agency. Further, the main focus of the teacher’s agency today was on notions describing pedagogical and relational agencies. Our results suggest that teachers are given a large number of different roles as well as values across the different documents. Teachers are asked to be “more of everything” now and in the future. We conclude this paper with critical reflection. We argue that policymakers in Finland in the field of ECE should take a more critical perspective on teacher’s future skill requirements especially regarding teachers’ agency.