“The more we know, the more we feel what we know is limited” : Finnish student teachers engaging with Chinese students’ ideas about culture, language and interculturality

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter problematises the notion of interculturality in teacher education, focusing on a case study from Finland. Finnish teacher education does not promote a single view and/or ideology of interculturality. As such student teachers at Finnish universities receive different types of introduction to the notion and its companions such as multicultural, global and even sustainability. This means that their take on interculturality in education can materialize very differently when they start working in schools. This is not a problem as such. However, a lack of curiosity and awareness towards other perspectives and ideologies might blind future teachers in both making decisions and taking actions about the notion at school and beyond. Introducing students to become aware of and weigh the pros and cons of diverse perspectives on interculturality is thus important. In this chapter, based on a two-year project during which student teachers for primary education were asked to get acquainted with different ways of conceptualising interculturality in education globally, we examine how groups of student teachers specialising in ‘diversity and interculturality in teacher education’ discuss and examine Chinese student teachers’ take on language and interculturality in education in essays written on the topic. Choosing Chinese students was intended to urge Finnish students to step outside their ideological comfort zone, and to unthink and rethink interculturality, since Chinese ideological takes on the notion are virtually unknown in the Nordic country – although they share similarities with many ‘Western’ perspectives. We argue that confronting future teachers with alternative and disruptive voices on interculturality can enrich their preparedness for dealing with complex and thorny situations of diversity in the classroom and beyond – thinking beyond a single ideological box and building up the will to listen to others’ discourses on interculturality – while looking at themselves in the mirror of the other. Dialogical discourse analysis is used to analyse how the Finnish students reflect on what the Chinese student teachers have written.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical and Creative Engagements with Diversity in Nordic Education
EditorsVander Tavares, Thor-Andre Skrefsrud
Number of pages21
PublisherLexington Books
Publication date2024
ISBN (Print)9781666925852
ISBN (Electronic)9781666925869
Publication statusPublished - 2024
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences

Cite this