Comparing teacher autonomy in three European countries: Estonia, Finland, and Germany

Maria Erss

Abstract


In the era of global educational competition manifested in the international comparative studies of student achievement many countries have chosen a stronger standardization of curricula and increased pressure on teacher accountability which has raised concerns regarding teacher professionalism and autonomy. This study focuses on cross-cultural research of teacher autonomy casting light on the varying responses of nation-states to the tension of standardization and decentralization of education as well as structure and agency problematic. The three main research questions are:
1) What theoretical frameworks are there about teacher autonomy and control?
2) How does the education policy shape teacher autonomy and control?
3) How do teachers perceive their professional autonomy and control over themselves?
In addition to creating two theoretical models three empirical studies were conducted. First, upper secondary school curricula and teachers' newspapers from Estonia, Germany (Bavaria) and Finland (1990-2011) were analyzed using critical discourse analysis. Then an interview study was conducted with 10 Estonian, 10 Finnish and 13 German teachers. The result: Curriculum discourse is in contradiction with teachers' experiences as expressed in newspapers and interviews.


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Euro-JCS is indexed in CAPES/QUALIS (Category: Education |  Classification: B3)