President Karis: We must all support student teachers in their career path

Alar Karis at the TLÜ meeting with student teachers.
Alar Karis at the TLÜ meeting with student teachers. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia/Raigo Pajula

President Alar Karis has called for more recognition for student teachers, as September 1, traditionally the start of the new academic year in Estonia, arrives.

"At the beginning of the new school year, we tend to think about those who are starting school. However, we can, and we must, consider teachers and all other educators, who accompany young people on their educational paths, more than we have been," the head of state said at a meeting with student teachers at Tallinn University (TLÜ).

The head of state also expressed his satisfaction that more and more people have opted to study pedagogy in recent years, while the state has significantly increased the number of study places at Estonia's universities, for those who want to become teachers.

The president, himself a former rector of both Tartu University and of Tartu University of Life Sciences, said: "A young person starting out as a teacher may very well be encouraged by the idea of ​​changing the world with his or her work, but this enthusiasm can quickly dissipate when work worries keep on rising."

"For this reason, trainee and new teachers need additional support from the principal and their colleagues. Furthermore, we can all give a boost to the enthusiasm of all young people who have chosen the teaching career path," President Karis went on, via a press release.

A large number of those studying to become teachers are in fact doing so while already working, meaning these two things must be successfully juggled, in order to avoid burnout.

The head of state noted that the public mainly tends to talk about the complexities and burnout related to teaching.

Teachers from other age groups also need to be taken into account, the head of state added.

"Otherwise, young people may develop a dread of the teaching profession or feel that they are not yet ready for this profession, if they come straight from high school. However, we do need more teachers in schools. Society is searching for a solution, by involving people from other fields in the teaching profession, but the right balance between in-the-field knowledge and teaching skills must be struck. In the same way, the strongest qualities from the various different generations must be found and amplified, as age is not the main criterion in education," President Karis went on.

Those students who attended the meeting with the president shared their reasons for deciding to go into the teaching profession, and offered solutions on how to introduce the teaching profession to other young people. 

"The yen to become a teacher can start as early as, for example, at high school, when helping the teacher and standing in front of the whole class, in so doing getting one's first, albeit brief, teaching experience," the head of state advised.

As to President Karis' question on what kind of support student teachers expect, the importance of assistant teachers in Estonian schools was stressed. 

This would significantly help implement both inclusive education and the transition to Estonian language learning as pursued by the current coalition.

"We are bold enough to state, when we need to, that many young people from Russian-speaking homes cannot deal with an Estonian-only school, at least at the beginning, hence why we could offer them a sabbatical year in which to learn the Estonian language," the president added.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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