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Understanding Finnish student craft teachers’ conceptions of sustainability

Niina Väänänen (Philosophical Faculty, School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, University of Eastern Finland, Savonlinna, Finland)
Leena Vartiainen (Philosophical Faculty, School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, University of Eastern Finland, Savonlinna, Finland)
Minna Kaipainen (Philosophical Faculty, School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, University of Eastern Finland, Savonlinna, Finland)
Harri Pitkäniemi (Philosophical Faculty, School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, University of Eastern Finland, Savonlinna, Finland)
Sinikka Pöllänen (Philosophical Faculty, School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, University of Eastern Finland, Savonlinna, Finland)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 3 July 2018

Issue publication date: 15 August 2018

606

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore student craft teachers’ conceptions of sustainable craft. This is an important issue because the Finnish National Curriculum of Basic Education emphasises sustainability, especially in craft education, and teachers play a vital role in preparing pupils to meet the future challenges. Because the concept of sustainable craft is open-ended, there is a need to rethink pedagogy in craft education and higher education.

Design/methodology/approach

The data were collected in the form of essays from future craft teachers (N41) studying craft science in the Finnish higher education system. The essays concerned both general conceptions of sustainable craft and reflections on the student teachers’ craft practices. The data were analysed using grounded theory to gain a deep understanding of how student craft teachers conceptualise sustainable craft. The data were quantified and statistically assessed for dependencies between variables and transferability of results.

Findings

The study revealed that sustainable craft is conceptualised as a system and that student teachers approach sustainability from different orientations: practice, product, immaterial and holistic.

Originality/value

The emerging theory offers a new concrete tool for understanding the abstract concept of sustainability in higher education and suggests that sustainability can be addressed through tangible methods of craft. This theory proposes craft as a tool to conceptualise of sustainability for broader use in education for sustainability (ESD) and as a concrete tool for developing pedagogy for ESD.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The preparation of this manuscript was enabled by the personal grant for the corresponding author as an early stage researcher position in the University of Eastern Finland in January 2017 – August 2018.

Citation

Väänänen, N., Vartiainen, L., Kaipainen, M., Pitkäniemi, H. and Pöllänen, S. (2018), "Understanding Finnish student craft teachers’ conceptions of sustainability", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 19 No. 5, pp. 963-986. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-11-2017-0200

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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