Michelle Francett-Hermes

Mattering the Sámi: Making space for inclusion of the Sámi in teacher education in Finland

In my doctoral research I study decoloniality in teacher education at the University of Oulu from two perspectives: i) culturally responsive teacher education for teachers in Sámi cultural and linguistic contexts; ii) teacher education for teachers in majority contexts. While inclusion and diversity in education has made developmental leaps, it still operates much on eurocentric assumptions of ontology and epistemology and the logic of coloniality. By opening up to other onto-epistemologies the academy and teacher education can be enriched and the inclusion of others, and more specifically the Sámi, can become more holistic. A part of my research focuses on the Finnish Ministry of Culture and Education -funded Ketterä Korkeakoulu - project which enables formally unqualified teachers in Sámi contexts to gain formal linguistic and pedagogical proficiency, quickly. The objective here is to include a decolonial and indigenizing perspective to the development of the pedagogical study unit (60 ECTS) that is offered in the training, with an emphasis on indigenous methodologies and research ethics from planning to implementation and evaluation of the pedagogical studies. The second area I examine is the curriculum development for basic education teacher training programs at the Faculty of Education at the University of Oulu (2018-2020). Here, the objective is identifying decolonial and its ally processes pursued and carried out in the curriculum reform process as well as colonial/modern powers operational in upholding hegemonic euro-finno-centric assumptions and structures, with the aim of identifying decolonial resources that can be used for dismantling colonial legacies and making space for the Sámi in the future.

In both areas of my research I focus on the processes and agential powers of de-/coloniality, producing new understanding on the practical aspects involved in what it means to decolonize education.

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