Literature as a Tool in Multicultural Education: Perceptions of Finnish Student Teachers on Reading Multicultural Literature in Finland
Multicultural education presents many challenges. In Finland, one of the largest challenges is the fact that the distribution of the immigrant population is highly imbalanced: almost 90 percent of immigrants live in metropolitan areas while in other areas of Finland there are few or none at all. For this reason, schools’ and teachers’ experiences with immigrant students vary widely and even the teacher training schools may have difficulties producing teaching graduates with experience working with immigrant students. In teacher education, reading fiction can be used as a tool for gaining understanding of different aspects of society and offer a chance to understand those in different situations. However, fiction has been an under-used method to support student teachers’ professional growth. In this article we describe an experiment in which student teachers read and discussed multicultural literature in literature circles as part of their studies in multicultural education. Reading multicultural literature gives young teachers a chance to understand the diversity of multicultural issues beyond the monocultural or touristic perspective.