The concept of phronesis as a background philosophy of teacher education

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Linna building, auditorium K 103, address: Kalevantie 5.

Markku Niinivirta

Doctoral defence of M.Ed. Markku Niinivirta

Fronesis opettajankoulutuksen taustafilosofiassa : Snellman-korkeakoulusta valmistuneiden steinerkoulun luokanopettajien kertomuksia tiestään opettajuuteen (The concept of phronesis as a background philosophy of teacher education : Narratives by Snellman College’s Waldorf Steiner class teacher student alumni with reference to their individual paths toward the profession)

The field of science of the dissertation is Education (Teacher Education).

The opponent is professor emeritus Jarmo Toiskallio. Professor Veli-Matti Värri acts as the custos.

The language of the dissertation defence is Finnish.

Practical wisdom in the background philosophy of teacher education

In this dissertation, the encounter between the theory of phronesis and contextual practice has formed an understanding of how the actors seek to express themselves through readiness to act and the resulting action. In addition, the phronetic actor (teacher) seeks to find, on a deeper, more spiritual level, his or her own purpose and aim in life, which is precisely to find and bridge the link between character (moral) virtues and intellectual virtues in practical life. This can be construed as a key challenge in the teaching field. The cognizance of spiritual growth can be studied through teacher narratives when referencing their individual paths toward the profession.

The results of the study are summarized like so: Phronesis as a virtue can be understood by four phronetic features and narrative identities – intentional, situational, contextual and holistic. According to Aristotelian tradition, the starting point of ethics begins with understanding the nature of manners (ethos) and bottom-up education. In this way, we learn how to work well in every situation, while at the same time aim for good on a universal level. Comprehending the functional nature of moral and intellectual virtues and their qualitative development in education and self-education is indeed a challenging mission. When examining Waldorf Steiner Class Teacher Education at Snellman College, the Living Academy model emerged as the core element of education where the philosophical background and study requirements are combined. This opens up extensive and interesting possibilities for artistic work within educational practices.


The dissertation is published in the publication series of Acta Universitatis Tamperensis; 2330, Tampere University Press, Tampere 2017. The dissertation is also published in the e-series Acta Electronica Universitatis Tamperensis; 1834, Tampere University Press 2017.

The dissertation can be ordered at: Juvenes e-bookstore or by e-mail:

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