Young people's perceptions of the significance of worldview education in the changing Finnish society

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles

Abstract

The purpose of the study is to investigate the significance of worldview education for young people in the Finnish comprehensive school context. The study examines the students’ own perceptions of the significance of worldview education, and the context is in which the young people of today encounter worldviews and build their own personal worldview. Furthermore, this study explores the purpose and aims of worldview education in Finnish schools and society in general. The goal of the study is to give voice to the students of various worldview education groups – Religious Education (RE) and Ethics – and through their perceptions provide new perspectives and encourage development of Finnish worldview education. This article-based thesis takes a mixed-methods approach and is based on three refereed research articles (Kavonius, Kuusisto, & Kallioniemi, 2015a, 2015b; Kavonius & Ubani, 2020). The data were gathered from five lower secondary schools in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen in spring 2013. The quantitative data (articles I and II) were collected as a part of the European project known as REDCo2 (Religion in Education: A Contribution to Dialogue or Factor of Conflict in Transforming Societies in Europe, N=406), and the qualitative data (articles I, II and III) consist of semi-structured interviews (N=37). The interview was based on the themes of the original REDCo questionnaire. The quantitative data were analyzed with basic statistical methods and the qualitative data with qualitative content analysis. The research problem in this study is twofold: how do the students comment on their experiences in RE and Ethics contributing to their readiness to encounter worldview plurality and tolerance of diversity, and how do the students consider that RE or Ethics contribute to their personal worldview development. This research problem is explored through three research questions: 1. How do 9th grade students perceive worldview education and worldview diversity in the Finnish comprehensive school? (Article I). 2. How do students perceive religious and worldview education and their own tolerance of worldview plurality in the changing Finnish society? (Article II). 3. How is the contribution of religious and worldview education in the development of worldviews perceived among 9th grade students? (Article III). The main findings of this study answer the research questions by showing that the students’ perceptions of worldview education were mostly positive and most of the participants considered that worldview education had contributed to their tolerance and understanding of worldview diversity. Some contribution in worldview formation was also articulated by most of the interviewees. However, there is an evident variance in the students’ perceptions about the contribution on the formation of their personal worldviews. Predominantly, RE groups were considered having differences between majority and minority RE. Teachers’ worldview seemed to be important, especially in minority RE, thus perceptions of RE appeared to be quite teacher reliant. The model of religious and worldview education according to one’s ‘own’ worldview appeared particularly challenging, and some participants did not adhere or feel connected to the tradition presupposed by their group of instruction as students’ ‘own’ tradition, in the means of a personal worldview nor family background. Furthermore, the subject contents seem to vary and depend on the teachers’ choices and emphasis. The results indicate that the Finnish worldview education could benefit from an update. The concept of worldview education according to one’s ‘own’ tradition would be a beneficial topic for investigation in a post-secular societal setting in which worldviews are increasingly diverse, fluid and complex (according to recent studies). More focus on the core idea of worldview education could sharpen the focal purpose, main goals and contents of worldview education as whole. From the perspective of teacher professionalism and teacher education, worldview reflection and teachers’ self-reflection ought to be highlighted further to develop worldview-consciousness in school context. The current Finnish model of worldview education has many components that the results of this study support, yet there are components in need of further consideration. Thorough investigation of the current model as a part of the whole school context in Finland might open up new viewpoints and options for worldview education in a changing, plural Finnish society. keywords: worldview education, religious education, ethics education, worldview diversity, basic education
Original languageFinnish
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Kuusisto, Arniika, Supervisor, External person
  • Ubani, Martin, Supervisor, External person
  • Kallioniemi, Arto, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2021
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences
  • 614 Theology

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