Interaction between students and class teachers in vocational education and training: ‘Safety distance is needed’


  • Sanna Ryökkynen University of Helsinki, Doctoral Programme of School, Education, Society and Culture (SEDUCE)
  • Raija Pirttimaa
  • Elina Kontu



Vocational education and training (VET), interaction, critical pedagogy, guidance, power, social justice, content analysis


Interaction between students and teachers is fundamental and has therefore been widely studied in education. However, there have been few studies on intensive spe-cial support being provided to vocational education and training (VET) students. Firstly, the focus of this article is on students’ perceptions of interactions with their class teachers. Students (aged 17–34 years) from four Finnish vocational institutions providing intensive special support were interviewed. According to the findings, the demands students placed on their class teachers and for interactions with them were modest and their perceptions of both were favourable. Interactions seemed to be study-orientated and class teachers behaved as active initiators, with students echo-ing their opinions. Students’ narratives excluded future career plans, talking about students’ strengths or future ambitions or dreams. Secondly, the aim of this study is to review Finnish VET critically. In the reformed VET system, competence-based ori-entation emphasises individual guidance and support. Therefore, as the dialogue between teacher and student seems to enable successful trajectories, it is essential to make this apparent. Part of education’s larger purpose is to make room for students’ voices and interpretations during their study, which includes both acquiring qualifi-cations to undertake certain work, and subjectification as an empowering element and socialisation of the social, cultural and political order.


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How to Cite

Ryökkynen, S., Pirttimaa, R., & Kontu, E. (2020). Interaction between students and class teachers in vocational education and training: ‘Safety distance is needed’. Nordic Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 9(2), 156–174.



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