The Case of Suvivirsi
There is a recurring leitmotif in Finnish discourse that intimately concerns the subject of this book. Every spring, the common practice of singing a particular hymn in public schools is questioned, leading to a more-or-less heated discussion of the relationship between education, religion, and music. The hymn is called Suvivirsi (lit., “Summer hymn”), number 571 in the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran hymnal (Virskirja 1986). Suvivirsi is commonly sung in public ceremonies of Finnish schools to herald the beginning of the summer holiday, making it one of the best-known Lutheran songs in Finnish culture.1
Those who question the presence of Suvivirsi in public-school ceremonies usually refer to the regulation restricting devotional practices in Finnish public schools. This regulation is based on the Finnish Constitution, which acknowledges every citizen’s positive and negative freedom of religion, stating that “no one is under the obligation, against his or her conscience, to participate in the practice of a religion” (Constitution of Finland 1999, 3). Suvivirsi is a Lutheran hymn, and because Lutheran hymns are composed in order to be sung as part of religious rituals, incorporating them into a public-school ceremony implies that the latter is a religious ritual (see, e.g., Heinimäki and Niemelä 2011).2 There have been various responses to this argument. Because the premise that denominational religious material should not be imposed on every student is widely accepted, justifications for maintaining the practice have been mainly sought by denying the validity of the other premise, namely, that singing Suvivirsi makes a school ceremony devotional.
Many of those who defend the singing of the hymn at school refer to its central place in Finnish cultural tradition, which, according to the argument, distances a religious song (or at least this one) from its original religious meaning when sung in a school ceremony intended for all Finns. Hence, singing the song in a church would be an entirely different thing from singing it as part of a school gathering. Some also argue that Suvivirsi has significance as a national symbol, making it worthy for all Finns to sing, regardless of their faith, as a token of their patriotic sentiment—which is perhaps somewhat surprising, since the hymn is of Swedish origin!3
The debate over Suvivirsi in schools has, for the most part, remained informal, waged in the pages of newspapers by various public interest groups and politicians.4 But senior bureaucrats have also intervened in such disputes. Such thread of discussion arose in March 2014 when, in response to an anonymous complaint filed to the Finnish Chancellor of Justice, Deputy Chancellor Mikko Puumalainen issued the following statement (excerpt):
I see it as problematic from the standpoint of religious freedom and equality that . . . events . . . are organized in schools that have religious content and that can be even taken as confessional by content. . . . Ceremonial traditions may include confessional elements, even if the ceremonies would not otherwise be religious or confessional. . . . While one particular hymn would not . . . change the ceremony to religious practice, such particular hymn can still have significance from the standpoint of freedom of religion (Uskonnon harjoittaminen kouluissa 2013, 8).5
Puumalainen justified this as follows:
Even if following the traditions can be valuable in itself, in legal surveillance one has to take as one’s point of departure the content of the tradition from the standpoint of, among other things, fundamental rights. To maintain that the school ceremonies are part of Finnish culture and tradition is likely to create an oppressing element. . . . Because the teachers are in an authority position in relation to the underage students, in [ceremonial] situations the oppressive element may become emphasized and can amount to the child’s fear of being left out. It is also necessary to ask why the common festivals or end-of-the-season ceremonies in school should . . . be integrated into the practicing of religion, and in this way, why their communal nature should be broken. . . . Both from the standpoint of negative freedom of religion and European Court of Human Rights juridical practice, it would be better justified . . . that, no events led by the teachers, other school personnel, or personnel of a congregation that include content of certain conviction would be organized in schools (Uskonnon harjoittaminen kouluissa 2013, 9–10).
Referring to earlier decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Puumalainen argued that it might be seen as unethical to subject someone to certain religious practice in public school against his or her will, even when the context would not be predominantly religious. Puumalainen also stated that “references to the traditions do not . . . liberate the state from its duty to obey the rights secured in the European Convention on Human Rights” (Uskonnon harjoittaminen kouluissa 2013, 4).
Even if the practice of singing Suvivirsi was not really the main point of Puumalainen’s statement, he implied that even one hymn could be interpreted as a religious practice when sung as part school ceremonies intended for the participation of all students. Indeed, when asked by the media about how Suvivirsi should be dealt with in schools from then on, the chancellor’s representative specified that “Suvivirsi is also religious,” thus implying it would not be an exception to the rule (Reinboth 2014a).
Thus, the hymn again became the focus of public debate, also made timely by the impending end-of-school ceremonies. On the basis of Puumalainen’s statement, the National Board of Education began checking the instructions to be issued to schools, despite considerable dissent from some educational administrators and teachers (Yleisradio 2014a). Fueled by immense media coverage, a wave of public protest erupted, led by several politicians and opinion leaders, who used the case of Suvivirsi as an opportunity to indicate their public stances on matters of religion, culture, and society. The Office of the Deputy Chancellor received more than one hundred complaints in response to Puumalainen’s statement (Yleisradio 2014e), some of which assumed that Puumalainen had specifically targeted Suvivirsi in making his statement. The public debate also became fertile ground for the expressing of extreme social and political views: “Now these hymnbook clowns, counselors and deputy counselors of justice etc. collect sympathies to their decisions from immigrants, gays, and all sorts of atheists” (Reinboth 2014b).
In the ensuing public discussion, several politicians testified about the validity of the Constitutional Law Committee’s earlier decision that singing a hymn in a public-school ceremony should be seen as a cultural tradition rather than as devotional practice. Some also argued that to oppose singing Suvivirsi in such ceremonies is to oppose the ways of the Finnish cultural majority, and thus impinged on their positive freedom of religion. The debate culminated in one representative of the nationalist party “the Finns,” Vesa-Matti Saarakkala, proposing a new law for the Finnish Parliament that would secure the place of Christian devotional practices in public schools (Saarakkala 2014). Around the country, there were also public demonstrations where people sang Suvivirsi together, voicing their support for its inclusion as part of school celebrations.
So efficient was the public counterstrike, that considerable pressure arose for the Constitutional Law Committee to reevaluate the matter.6 A new statement was issued after the committee had consulted legal experts (Yleisradio 2014b), making it clear that Finnish schools can continue the practice of singing Suvivirsi and other hymns in public-school ceremonies, and that such singing does not impinge on anyone’s negative freedom of religion, as the hymns are not considered religious within such a context. This decision apparently satisfied the majority, but for some it may still raise two questions: What makes a song religious in the first place? And on what premises can it be decided that a religious song becomes secular in another context? (Yleisradio 2014d).
It seems that a line was crossed in the 2014 Suvivirsi disputes, politicizing the entire discussion. While politicians of every stripe defended the singing of Suvivirsi, representatives of the nationalist party were exceptionally vocal, perhaps empowered by their recent success at the polls. All this may be taken as a sign of an emerging need to renegotiate the role of the majority denomination in Finnish public educational institutions, as the society is rapidly gaining awareness of its multiculturality and multireligiosity. Majority rights were certainly brought to the fore. Whether religious minorities were, or continue to be, heard in this discussion, largely depends on how well they are able to present their case in future debates.
The Changing Role of Religious Music in Finnish Public Schools
If there is a notion that unifies contemporary observations on the state of Finnish society, it is that, today, the society faces an increasing multitude of views on politics, society, and culture. This is also true of religious views (Kallioniemi 2005). Nevertheless, Finnish society has remained relatively monoreligious. Despite the steady decrease in membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as of December 2013, 75.3 percent of the population still officially associated themselves with this denomination (Statistics Finland 2013); indeed, it has been said that Finland is the most Lutheran country in the world. Whatever the reality, it can hardly be doubted that the Evangelical Lutheran church has played a decisive role in shaping Finnish cultural sensibility and identity and that music has been one of the fields where this shaping has taken place.
As in other European countries with a Protestant majority, the singing of a religious repertoire in Finnish schools has a long history (Pajamo 1976; Vapaavuori 1997), and Lutheran hymns have played an important role in Finnish public education from the Reformation to the twenty-first century. In addition to teaching children applicable skills and knowledge, Finnish schools were for a long time expected to prepare students for congregational life. Consequently, when the Finnish common school (kansakoulu, lit., “folk school”) was established in the latter half of the nineteenth century, it was largely seen as a preparatory school for confirmation. While the operation of public schools was transferred from the church to the state in 1866, religious songs were still assumed to constitute the most important repertoire for singing in schools. That said, it is worth noting that in the state-regulated common school, the role of singing religious material was not understood to be merely congregational. Rather, hymns and other religious songs were seen to contribute to the holistic education of the child. This thinking was in line with the Lutheran view that a religious upbringing and an education for secular life should blend seamlessly.7 It was also in line with Luther’s personal conviction that congregational singing has an important role in ensuring an individual’s wellbeing.8
In sociological terms, the fact that hymn singing was accepted to have various roles in the school already in the nineteenth century can perhaps be understood as a first sign of ideological differentiation, which eventually disconnected religious education from music education. The process took a considerable amount of time. In the 1985 National Core Curriculum, “music of the religions” was still seen as one of the six mandatory content areas of music education (Peruskoulun opetussuunnitelman perusteet 1985; Peruskoulun opetuksen opas: musiikki 1987, 1).9 The late 1980s also witnessed the issuing of a national plan for teaching Lutheran hymns in comprehensive schools (Peruskoulun virsisuunnitelma 1987; see also Pajamo 1988, 1991). In the 1994 National Core Curriculum, religious repertoire was no longer mandatory, no doubt reflecting a change from subject-oriented lesson planning to a more open curriculum. It may also be seen as a manifestation of increasing differentiation between religious and secular education. In the 2004 National Core Curriculum, hymns were mentioned only as part of the Lutheran religious education curriculum (Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteet 2004, 204–5), which meant that students from other denominations were no longer obligated to learn or perform them. In this light, it is perhaps understandable that some people oppose singing Lutheran hymns as part of public-school ceremonies intended for all students. After all, even the national curriculum states that hymns belong exclusively to Lutheran religious education. Then again, the long history of congregational songs in public education may explain why many Finns are also reluctant to relinquish hymn singing altogether.10
Religious School Music as a Practice of Civil Religion
I have thus far discussed the reluctance of many Finns to accept the claim that such hymns as Suvivirsi should be omitted from public-school ceremonies because of their religious connotations. Does such reluctance suggest a need to recognize the rights of the religious majority, as I have suggested? Or, does it reflect a wider concern for the education of all students? In this section, I will examine this question from the standpoint of civil religion.
Stemming from Rousseau’s theory of the social contract (Rousseau 2019 , bk. 4, ch. 8), civil religion refers to a public mentality that unites a state by providing its operations with an aura of the sacrosanct, defining the identity of its inhabitants as citizens. In Rousseau, such a mentality consists of “social sentiments without which a man cannot be a good citizen or a faithful subject” (bk. 4, ch. 8). Rousseau took civil religion, not such as is practiced in church but in state-owned institutions, to be necessary for the social cohesion of a state. Émile Durkheim (1961) later argued that schools were one such institution where civil religion was to be implemented. In turn, Robert Bellah (1967, 1) has argued that civil religion manifests as “a set of beliefs, symbols, and rituals” that marks “certain common elements of religious orientation that the great majority of [citizens] share.” Noticing the semisecular character of such beliefs, perhaps civil religion can also be understood as a secularized, nontheistic version of a theistic religion. As such, the concept may offer an opportunity to understand why those who are not attracted to ecclesiastical religions might nevertheless partake in seemingly devotional practices and rituals in the public sphere. This would mean that the state would assume the institutional role that was previously assigned to the church or other religious bodies.
To return to our theme of religious music in Finnish public schools, it is worth noting the ways in which music education was advocated when the first common-school curriculum was introduced (Pajamo 1976; Väkevä 2015). The very first public arguments over what music should be taught in common schools focused almost exclusively on three kinds of songs: religious, national, and folk songs.11 While the demand for singing a religious repertoire in Finnish schools was based on the vital role that such singing had in Lutheran congregational life, ideals noting the importance of national and folk songs drew on the values of national romanticism, which implied that education in the arts should serve the realization of the spiritual telos of the budding nation. This was also the function that many Finnish intellectuals granted to the arts: they saw artworks as expressions of national spirit, devoted to the political cause of the national state, manifest in the culture of an ethical community that is comparable to the other civilized societies in Europe.12 It can be argued that music thus served a dual role in the formation of the Finnish nation: on one hand, providing a means for growing the people into political maturity; on the other, providing symbols that signified that Finns were capable of producing their own culture, thus justifying the nation’s position among the ranks of civilized nations.
Against this backdrop, it is easy to understand why the functions of the state and religion have coalesced in Finnish history. As Mikkola (2004) has argued, it is possible to interpret Finnish nationalism as a social phenomenon motivated by religion and at the same time as a religion in itself (see also Alasuutari 1996). In sociological terms, Finnish nationalism may be understood as an ideologically guided system of belief that has gradually differentiated itself from the belief system of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, with this process already taking seed in the mid-nineteenth century. Even if such a differentiation can be understood as a process of secularization, from another perspective it offers the basis for seeing religious sentiments as the responsibility of the state, as part of a larger cultural political project. Even today, as the commonly heard tripartite motto Koti, Uskonto, Isänmaa (“Home, religion, fatherland”) suggests in Finnish public discourse, there appears to be a longing for a “comprehensive, self-contained, and integrated system of representation” that could relieve the anxiety of social differentiation and cultural fragmentation of late modern society and its fragmenting institutions (Anttila 1993, 122; see also Sevänen 1998).
Such “unifying systems of representation” may be theoretically understood from the standpoint of interpenetration. As developed from Parson’s ideas by Münch (2001), interpenetration refers to cultural processes, in which two or more differentiated social “spheres of action” overlap with the aid of a “voluntaristic order” that provides the basis for their reintegration. Through such reintegration, the effects of social differentiation may be augmented, with common interests binding differentiated social systems together. According to Münch (1987, 21, 27), such common interests frame their own “zones of interpenetration” that help social actors apply shared ideological resources in coordinating and justifying their actions in diverse social systems.
On the basis of Münch’s theory, Sevänen (1998) has argued that, because of interpenetration, modernist differentiation took place in Finnish society within a framework of a tightly knit infrastructure that united the interests of people operating in different spheres of action. The first indication of this unification was the potential of nationalism to appeal to people across social boundaries. Another unifying factor may have been the symbolic order of the Lutheran church, which, despite the secularization of Finnish society during the twentieth century, has proved to be a powerful ingredient in the cultural identification of the civic mentality.
The arts, music included, can also be taken as zones of interpenetration, because they also provide unifying ideological symbolic orders that help people to coordinate their lives between social systems. When symbolizing national aspirations, the arts offer “safe” places for people’s interests to convene, for they support the political project of recognizing a unified nation, in spite of differing religious or other personal beliefs. From this standpoint, the current widespread acceptance of religious singing in Finnish public schools can perhaps be seen as a manifestation of a civil mentality that resists modern differentiation. In this sense, hymn singing in schools might also serve to transcend the lines demarcated by differentiated social institutions, by becoming an institution in itself. Whether people outside the Lutheran majority are to accept such institutions as guiding their lives depends on whether they agree that the symbolic order of the majority serves the common cause of the entire nation. Be that as it may, it is surely more convenient to argue for inclusion of a religious repertoire in Finnish school ceremonies on cultural or national terms than in terms of religious upbringing.
Singing Suvivirsi in a Public-School Ceremony: Critical Bildung or Spiritual Indoctrination?
This takes us to my final theme, which I will approach armed with the German concept of Bildung (sivistys in Finnish).13 Bildung has had different interpretations in educational literature, but the reading that has mostly influenced Finnish discourse originated in the eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century writings of Herder, Hegel, and the so-called New Humanists active in the German language area. For Hegel, Bildung marked a process through which an individual subject grows into full spiritual maturity in terms of the ethical order (Sittlichkeit) of a society.14 If Bildung is interpreted in this way as an endogenous process of self-cultivation, a question emerges: what is the relationship of this process to publicly maintained and regulated education? This problem has largely defined continental educational philosophy in the modern era. One possible response to the problem is to make a distinction between socialization and Bildung and to argue that both influence the way education is organized (Siljander 1997). Such a position reminds us that, whenever social institutions are intervening with processes of Bildung, issues of power necessarily arise (Siljander, Kivelä, and Sutinen 2012; Väkevä 2012).
Critical notions of Bildung can be understood as perspectives that focus on this relation between self-cultivation and the coercive effect of society. From the standpoint of critical theory, this relation is mediated by social institutions that justify their operations in ideological terms. While school is undoubtedly the most important pedagogical institution in modern societies—and thus is an important framing condition for Bildung—family, religious organizations, and other social formations also influence the process of self-cultivation. In a highly differentiated late modern society, with a variety of interest groups that negotiate how education should intervene with the growth of the individual, the cultural interpenetration of social systems may offer a common symbolic ground on which to build consensus. From the critical standpoint, however, interpenetration may also conceal underlying ideological tensions that need to be brought to light, analyzed, and—when found to be problematic—contested (Kincheloe 2007; Nielsen 2007; Sünker 2006).
Often, when the negative consequences of education on an individual’s growth are considered, the concept of indoctrination pops up. Many educational theorists have held this term to mark an educative process gone wrong, even if, before the mid-twentieth century, the word was not commonly applied pejoratively (Thiessen 1993). According to contemporary definitions, indoctrination refers to a process in which students are inculcated into certain doctrines, or bodies of principles (MOT 2013, s.v. indoktrinaatio). Severely restricting the students’ freedom of self-determination, indoctrination presents itself as antithetical to Bildung and, thus, is a critical point on which to anchor a discussion of the relationship between school and society.
In recent years, some educational theorists have argued that the concept of indoctrination is not precise enough to be used as a means of educational criticism (Puolimatka 1997; Tan 2004; Thiessen 1993).15 According to these critics, philosophical attempts to define indoctrination fail—not because indoctrination does not occur, but because it is not easy to see how certain subject matter, certain ways of teaching, or even certain intentions and purposes fulfill its conditions. Whether teaching is to be understood as indoctrination is thus a very contextual matter.
Attempts to define indoctrination are often criticized as support for religious, moral, or political education (Puolimatka 1997). But charges of indoctrination have also been raised against secular education. For instance, according to Wahlström (2009, 158), the European Convention of Human Rights was originally conceived to “secure an education that was not indoctrinating,” as after World War II, Western Europe sought a way to articulate educational ideals that were antagonistic to those that guided education behind the Iron Curtain, especially ideals that opposed religious education. For many representatives, an important goal of the European human rights project was to secure Western European parents’ right to decide the religious education of their children. Such rights were generally understood to be necessary conditions for Bildung. In this light, it is easy to see why accusations that equate religious education with indoctrination are frequently met critically in European pedagogical discussion.
If we return to the Finnish Suvivirsi debate, it is also interesting to note that in 2014 the original complaint addressed to the Finnish chancellor of justice asked him “to investigate, whether public and publicly funded . . . schools and upper high schools (lukiot) . . . operate against the provisions of equity and freedom of religion and conscience, as articulated in European Convention of Human Rights, when organizing religious practices during the school hours” (Uskonnon harjoittaminen kouluissa 2013, 1). The complainant observed that “the habit of including the practicing of religion in [school] activities . . . leads to dividing the students into two groups according to their conviction” (1). Such segregation, according to the complainant, takes place frequently in “school services, religious day’s opening ceremonies (aamunavauksissa), and other religious events organized in schools.”
Two observations are in order here. First, both the original complaint and the ensuing statement of the deputy chancellor interpreted the human rights convention primarily from the standpoint of negative freedom of religion, even if the convention was originally established with positive freedom of religion in mind. Whether this is the best way to address the case of religious music in schools today may be problematized on the basis of this historical fact, without entering into discussion about the educational benefits of such music. The crucial issue would then be, whether hurting the negative freedom of a minority is sometimes necessary in order to secure the positive freedoms of the majority, or vice versa.16 This is surely a contextual and political issue, which means that the tables are easily turned with societal change. Second, the original complaint was not targeted exclusively at the Finnish tradition of singing Suvivirsi, or any other song, but more generally against imposing devotional practices of certain denominations on all students. While Suvivirsi may be seen as a positive symbol for national-cultural consensus, and its incorporation into a public-school ceremony may be taken as a polite egalitarian nod to the authority of the religious majority, its acceptance as educative content that is necessary for the general Bildung process of every student may be disputed on the basis of its being a Lutheran hymn. Then again, the song can also be defended on the same grounds.
The complaint that ignited the 2014 Suvivirsi debate seems to have been motivated by the observation that Finnish schools frequently work in cooperation with major congregations (mainly the Evangelical Lutheran), organizing public events and ceremonies together. According to the complaint, when addressed to all students, such ceremonies may be problematic, not only in theoretical terms of endangering the negative freedom of religion, but also because they lead to treating minority students in a potentially indoctrinating manner or at least insensitively—for instance, when non-Lutheran Evangelical students have to be led outside the ceremonial hall during a ceremony that should accommodate all students, which seems to be the case in some schools. At the most intense phase of this discussion, a public report addressed to the Ministry of Education and the Board of Education, signed by two representatives of the “www.et-opetus.fi” community (dated May 11, 2014),17 also testified that many non-Lutheran parents, teachers, and students have experienced problems in cases in which Lutheran religious performances and public prayers have been organized in public schools.18 While such practices may be taken as examples of how education supports Bildung by addressing a subject matter that holds deep significance to many Finns, they may also be taken as antithetical to the ideal of Bildung, perhaps even as indoctrinatory, to the degree that they do not involve the critical selection of educational content in relation to the students’ emerging life contexts. In critical theories of Bildung, such informed selection would be a key determinant of education done right.
To summarize this discussion, at present, a number of Finns, perhaps even an increasing number, seem not to be satisfied with the Constitutional Law Committee’s decision to include Lutheran hymns in public-school ceremonies on the grounds that they contribute to the cultural or civic Bildung of all students. For these Finns, it is a living option to consider all hymn singing as religious practice, and cases where such singing is expected from all as forms of religious, or perhaps spiritual, indoctrination. This view does not have to depend in any way on the changing roles and multiple functions of the religious repertoire in Finnish culture. A hymn is a hymn, and as such, cannot (and perhaps should not) sever its association with Lutheran devotional life.
From the standpoint of this opinion group, it would be probably be the safest bet to organize public-school ceremonies in ways that could not be associated with religious rituals, at least in any direct way. Then again, even if Suvivirsi has obviously won a place in the hearts of the Finnish majority, to oppose its singing in public-school ceremonies does not deny its cultural or national significance. While it is a hymn, it is a historical landmark in the Finnish school singing repertoire and can be appreciated (or depreciated) accordingly. What the opposition to it can remind us of is that, today, Finnish public schools increasingly cater to a variety of students from different cultural backgrounds within or outside the nation’s borders, expressing a variety of different attitudes toward devotional practices, together with an increasing awareness of their rights to both positive and negative freedom of religion. As time goes by, such attitudes may also inspire criticism against secular forms of religion, perhaps even leading to changing the symbolic orders of interpenetration targeted at unifying the Finnish people as a nation. If this takes place, other symbolic orders might be needed, and to the degree that they may be incorporated into education, they must be chosen with an eye both on the global, continental, and national legalization and on the critical need to educate individuals as culturally reflective ethical agents. Music educators should be aware of such factors and, when needed, show tolerance toward differing views, including when they contest traditional ways of music making.
This study has been conducted as part of the ArtsEqual research project, funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland and its Equality in Society strategic research program (project number 293199).
LAURI VÄKEVÄ is Professor of Music Education at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts–Helsinki, Finland. He is the editor of Future Prospects for Music Education: Corroborating Informal Learning Pedagogy (together with Sidsel Karlsen) and of De-Canonizing Music History (together with Vesa Kurkela).
This chapter is based on my keynote presentation at the Critical Perspectives on Music Education and Religion conference at Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts, Helsinki, August 21, 2014.
1. The history of Suvivirsi goes back to late seventeenth century, when it was added to the Swedish hymnal. The song soon also found its way into the Finnish hymnal and today it is one of the most commonly sung Lutheran hymns in Finland. The hymn was probably composed in 1697 by an anonymous author. The lyrics are usually supposed to have been written by the bishop of Gotland, Israel Kolmodin. According to the tradition, the good bishop was inspired by the natural beauty of the Hånger spring near Visby (Virsikirja 571 Jo Joutui Armas Aika).
2. Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church defines a hymn as “a song, religious in content, fit to be sung together” and further characterizes the practice of singing hymns as “declaration, teaching, pastoral care, prayer, and experiencing community” (Virret ja muu musiikki 2014; see also Virsikirja 1986)
3. Some say that Suvivirsi is based on German melody; others say it is based on a Swedish folk tune.
4. For instance, Finnish Union of Freethinkers and church-related opinion groups.
5. All translations are mine.
6. The vice chair of the committee, Outi Mäkelä, had earlier commented (for Yleisradio 2014c) that it is strange that the deputy chancellor wants to “raise confusion with such a matter” and doubted the authority of the chancellor to issue statements of such a nature. Also, the president of Finland made a short comment on the matter, wondering whether the deputy chancellor does not have more important duties.
7. As discussed, for example, in Luther ( 1987).
8. See, for example, Eggert (1983). Also the chief architect the first Finnish common-school curriculum, Lutheran clergyman Uno Cygnaeus stated that school singing is imperative, as it “unites and uplifts hearts” (1910, 198). Singing should be studied “not only for later life, but to refresh and refine time together in the school itself” (Cygnaeus 1910, 199).
9. In the form of congregational service music, music of different denominations and appreciation of great works of church music.
10. Taira (2012) argues that there is a historical connection between Lutheranism and Finnishness in Finnish discourse and that atheism has traditionally been associated with anti-Finnishness. From this standpoint, the reluctance to give up hymn singing in schools may reflect the institutionalization of the Lutheran faith in Finnish society and how it has been reflected in the collective psyche of the majority.
11. But many teachers and educational administrators continued to oppose singing secular songs in school at the end of the nineteenth century, and there is reason to believe that a religious repertoire continued to be the most important subject matter in common-school singing classes until the mid-twentieth century.
12. The need for constructing a cultural profile for the Finnish nation was driven by the colonial status of Finland over the centuries. There is no space here to discuss Finnish nationalism in any extensive way. It should be noted, however, that cultural and religious institutions have played an important part in the process of creating and maintaining the country’s independence, in concert with educational institutions.
13. It is often stated that Bildung does not translate easily into English. The Finnish dictionary defines “sivistys” as “knowledge and spiritual maturity” that is acquired “by way of education” or through a “process of self-cultivation” (MOT 2013, s.v. sivistys).
14. Hegel describes this process thoroughly in The Phenomenology of Spirit (Hegel 1976). For a discussion of the relation between Sittlichkeit and Bildung, see Elements of the Philosophy of Right (Hegel 1991, §145–57).
15. One way to develop this critique is to scrutinize attempts to define indoctrination and to show that all of them fail (Puolimatka 1997). For instance, to criticize teaching that does not base its content on scientific inquiry as indoctrination can fail when the content includes notions that cannot be scientifically justified (such as moral principles and, perhaps, religious beliefs). Moreover, it is not clear how to define a doctrine as the content of indoctrination: for instance, it is not always easy to draw a line between scientific theories and doctrines. Another attempt to define indoctrination is to pay attention to how the teacher teaches. For instance, if the students are not provided opportunities to critically consider all relevant options for the notion to be learned, or the grounds for believing it as true, they may be said to be indoctrinated. Critics have argued in opposition to this that there are beliefs that have no alternatives or that are axiomatic in the sense that they need no further reasons. Besides, it may be maintained that it is impossible to consider all living options for all educational content, especially at the lower grades. It has been further suggested that one way to define indoctrination is by identifying the intention or objective of the teacher as indoctrinatory. Such attempts have also raised criticism, for it is not clear how such intentions are identified unless the teacher is vocal about his or her attempt.
16. This may also be true in the more specific case of music education: according to Bowman (2007), music education is always both inclusive and exclusive.
17. The purpose of the online community is to provide information about a nondenominational school subject that is named “Ethics” in the English translation of the Finnish national curriculum (elämänkatsomustieto, lit., “life stance knowledge”). This subject is mandatory for students who do not participate in religion classes.
18. One of these communications was issued by a teacher who reported having had to participate in a church- and state-funded Virsivisa (lit., “Hymn quiz”) project despite being non-Lutheran. Funded by the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Finnish Board of Education, the project aims to teach Lutheran hymns to students of the third and fourth grades as part of their everyday schoolwork (http://www.virsivisa.fi; see also “Tällainen on Virsivisa” 2014). Some juridical experts have seen the quiz as problematic because it also was meant to be played outside the Lutheran religion classes. As the constitutional law professor Veli-Pekka Viljanen argued for Helsingin Sanomat, Virsivisa can perhaps also be taken as a different case than the practice of singing Suvivirsi in school ceremonies, for such practices can be seen as “religious traditions practiced in Christmas festivities or other distinct events” rather than as cases of the teachers incorporating “religious materials systematically in other teaching” (“Tällainen on Virsivisa” 2014).
Alasuutari, Pertti. 1996. Toinen tasavalta: Suomi 1946–1994 [The second republic: Finland 1946–1994]. Tampere, Fin.: Vastapaino.
Anttila, Jorma. 1993. “Käsitykset suomalaisuudesta—traditionaalisuus ja modernisuus.” In Mitä on suomalaisuus?, edited by Teppo Korhonen, 108–34. Helsinki, Fin.: Suomen antropologinen seura.
Bellah, Robert. 1967. “Civil Religion in America.” Dædalus 96, no. 1: 1–21.
Bowman, Wayne. 2007. “Who Is the ‘We’? Rethinking Professionalism in Music Education.” Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 6, no. 4: 109–31. http://act.maydaygroup.org/articles/Bowman6_4.pdf.
Constitution of Finland. 1999. https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/kaannokset/1999/en19990731.pdf.
Cygnaeus, Uno. 1910. Uno Cygnaeuksen Kirjoituksen Suomen kansakoulun perustamisesta ja järjestämisestä [Uno Cygnaeus’s writings for establishing and organizing Finnish common school]. Edited by Gustaf F. Lönnbeck. Helsinki, Fin.: Kansanvalistus.
Durkheim, Emile. 1961. Moral Education. New York: The Free Press.
Eggert, Kurt J. 1983. Martin Luther, God’s Music Man. http://www.wlsessays.net/files/EggertLuther.pdf.
Hegel, Georg W. F. 1976. Phenomenology of Spirit. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
———. 1991. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Heinimäki, Jaakko, and Jussi K. Niemelä. 2011. Kamppailu Jumalasta: 12 erää uskosta [The struggle over God: 12 rounds of faith]. Helsinki, Fin.: Helsinki-kirjat.
Kallioniemi, Arto. 2005. Uskonnonopetuksen haasteet kulttuurisessa murroksessa. Helsinki, Fin.: Didacta Varia.
Kincheloe, Joe L. 2007. “Critical Pedagogy in the Twenty-First Century: Evolution for Survival.” In Critical Pedagogy: Where Are We Now?, edited by Peter McLaren and Joe L. Kincheloe, 9–42. New York: Peter Lang.
Luther, Martin. (1524) 1987. “To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany That They Establish and Maintain Christian Schools.” Translated by Albert T. W. Steinhaeuser. In Works of Martin Luther, 4: 74–97. Albany: AGES Software. http://media.sabda.org/alkitab-8/LIBRARY/LUT_WRK4.PDF.
Mikkola, Kati. 2004. “Uskonto, isänmaa, isänmaausko: Uskonnollisen argumentaation ulottuvuudet Topeliuksen Maamme kirjassa” [Religion, fatherland, fatherland-religion: the dimensions of religious argumentation in Topelius’s Maamme book]. In Uskonnon paikka: Kirjoituksia uskontojen ja uskontoteorioiden rajoista [The place of religion: writings on the borders of religions and theories of religion], edited by Outi Fingeroos, Minna Opas, and Teemu Taira, 209–44. Helsinki, Fin.: Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden seura.
MOT. 2013. MOT Kielitoimiston sanakirja [MOT dictionary of the Institute of the Languages, Finland]. http://ezproxy.uniarts.fi/login?url=http://mot.kielikone.fi/mot/taideyliopisto/netmot.
Münch, Richard. 1987. Theory of Action: Towards a New Synthesis Going beyond Parsons. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
———. 2001. The Ethics of Modernity: Formation and Transformation in Britain, France, Germany and the United States. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.
Nielsen, Frede V. 2007. “Music (and Arts) Education from the Point of View of Didaktik and Bildung.” In International Handbook of Research in Art Education, edited by Liora Bresler, 265–85. New York: Springer.
Pajamo, Reijo. 1976. Suomen koulujen laulunopetus vuosina 1843–1881 [Singing teaching in Finnish schools 1843–1881]. Helsinki, Fin.: Suomen Musiikkitieteellinen.
———. 1988. Peruskoulun virsitieto [Hymn knowledge for comprehensive school]. Helsinki, Fin.: Kirjapaja.
———. 1991. Hymnologian peruskurssi [The basic course of hymnology]. Helsinki, Fin.: Sibelius-Akatemia. Kirkkomusiikin osaston julkaisuja 2.
Peruskoulun opetuksen opas: musiikki [The guide for teaching in basic education: music]. 1987. Helsinki, Fin.: Valtion painatuskeskus.
Peruskoulun opetussuunnitelman perusteet [Core curriculum for the comprehensive school]. 1985. Helsinki, Fin.: Valtion painatuskeskus.
Peruskoulun virsisuunnitelma [Hymn plan for the comprehensive school]. 1987. Helsinki, Fin.: Suomen ev.lut. kirkon keskushallinto.
Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteet [Core curriculum for the comprehensive school]. 2004. Opetushallitus. Määräys 1–3/011/2004. Vammala, Fin.: Vammalan kirjapaino.
Puolimatka, Tapio. 1997. Opetusta vai indoktrinaatiota: Valta ja manipulaatio opetuksessa [Teaching or indoctrination: power and manipulation in teaching]. Helsinki, Fin.: Kirjayhtymä.
Reinboth, Susanna. 2014a. “Apulaisoikeuskansleri: Uskonnolliset tilaisuudet pois kouluista” [Deputy chancellor: religious events away from school]. Helsinki Sanomat, March 24. http://www.hs.fi/kotimaa/a1395629878403.
———. 2014b. “Suvivirsi aiheutti palautetulvan” [An overflow of feedback caused by Suvivirsi]. Helsinki Sanomat, April 25. http://www.hs.fi/kotimaa/a1398346003347.
Rousseau, Jean Jacques. (1762) 2019. The Social Contract, or the Principles of Political Right. http://www.constitution.org/jjr/socon.htm.
Saarakkala, Vesa-Matti. 2014. Lakialoite koulujen kulttuurikristillisten traditioden vaalimisesta [A bill upholding the cultural-Christian traditions of the schools], blog, March 26. http://www.saarakkala.fi/blogi/2014/03/26/330.
Sevänen, Erkki. 1998. Taide instituutiona ja järjestelmänä: Modernin taide-elämän historiallis-sosiologiset mallit [Art as institution and as system: the historical-sociological models of modern art life]. Helsinki, Fin.: Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden seura.
Siljander, Pauli, ed. 1997. Kasvatus ja sosialisaatio [Education and socialization]. Helsinki, Fin.: Gaudeamus.
Siljander, Pauli, Ari Kivelä, and Ari Sutinen, eds. 2012. Theories of Bildung and Growth—Connections and Controversies between Continental Educational Thinking and American Pragmatism. Rotterdam, Neth.: Sense.
Statistics Finland. 2013. Väestö uskontokunnan mukaan ja osuus väestöstä 1950–2013 [Population by religious denomination and the share of the population 1950–2013]. http://tilastokeskus.fi/til/vaerak/2013/vaerak_2013_2014-03-21_tau_002_fi.html.
Sünker, Heinz. 2006. Politics, Bildung and Social Justice: Perspectives for a Democratic Society. Rotterdam, Neth.: Sense.
Suomen Evankelis-Luterilainen Kirkko. Virsikirja [Hymn book]. 1986. http://evl.fi/virsikirja.
Taira, Teemu. 2012. “More Visible but Limited in Its Popularity: Atheism (and Atheists) in Finland.” Approaching Religion 2, no. 1 (June 8): 21–35. https://doi.org/10.30664/ar.67489.
“Tällainen on Virsivisa” [This is Virsivisa]. 2014. Helsingin Sanomat, May 26. http://www.hs.fi/kotimaa/a1401079533944.
Tan, Charlene. 2004. “Michael Hand, Indoctrination and the Inculcation of Belief.” Journal of the Philosophy of Education 38, no. 2 (May 24): 257–67. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0309-8249.2004.00380.x.
Thiessen, Elmer John. 1993. Teaching for Commitment: Liberal Education, Indoctrination, and Christian Nurture. Montreal: McQueen-Gills University Press.
“Uskonnon harjoittaminen kouluissa” [The practicing of religion in schools]. 2013. Apulaisoikeuskanslerin päätös [Decision by deputy chancellor] OKV/230/1/2013. http://www.okv.fi/media/uploads/ratkaisut/ratkaisut_2014/okv_230_1_2013.pdf.
Väkevä, Lauri. 2012. “Experiencing Growth as a Natural Phenomenon: John Dewey’s Philosophy and the Bildung Tradition.” In Theories of Bildung and Growth: Connections and Controversies between Continental Educational Thinking and American Pragmatism, edited by Pauli Siljader, Ari Kivelä, and Ari Sutinen, 261–80. Rotterdam, Neth.: Sense.
Väkevä, Lauri. 2015. “Music for All? Justifying the Two-Track Ideology of Finnish Music Education.” In Critical Music Historiography: Probing Canons, Ideologies and Institutions, edited by Vesa Kurkela and Markus Mantere, 45–56. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.
Vapaavuori, Hannu. 1997. Virsilaulu ja heräävä kansallinen kulttuuri-identiteetti: Jumalanpalveluksen virsilaulua ja-sävelmistöä koskeva keskustelu Suomessa 1800-luvun puolivälistä vuoteen 1886 [Hymn singing and the awakening national culture identity: the discussion about hymn-singing and melodies in service in Finland from mid-nineteenth century to 1886]. Saarijärvi, Fin.: Suomen kirkkohistoriallinen 173.
Virret ja muu musiikki [Hymns and other music]. 2014. Suomen evankelis-luterilainen kirkko [Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland]. Accessed September 23, 2015. http://evl.fi/evlfi.nsf/Documents/8ED81ADA2486F346C225728B003F3787?openDocument&lang=FI.
Virsikirja 571. Jo Joutui Armas Aika. Virsikirja.fi. Accessed August 1, 2019. https://virsikirja.fi/virsi-571-jo-joutui-armas-aika/.
Wahlström, Ninni. 2009. “The Struggle for the Right to Education in the European Convention on Human Rights.” Journal of Human Rights 8, no. 2: 150–61.
Yleisradio. 2014a. “Suvivirren laulaminen kouluissa uuteen harkintaan” [Singing Suvivirsi in schools to be reconsidered]. Yleisradion uutiset, March 24. http://yle.fi/uutiset/suvivirren_laulaminen_kouluissa_uuteen_harkintaan/7152153.
———. 2014b. “Suvivirren laulaminen voi jatkua kouluissa” [Singing Suvivirsi can continue in schools]. Yleisradion Uutiset, April 4. http://yle.fi/uutiset/suvivirren_laulaminen_voi_jatkua_kouluissa/7173951.
———. 2014c. “Suvivirsi-ratkaisun tehnyt apulaisoikeuskansleri vastaa arvosteluun: ‘Emme kiellä mitään—toimme esiin ongelman’” [“The deputy chancellor that made the decision over Suvivirsi replies, ‘We do not forbid anything—we have brought out a problem’”] Yleisradion uutiset, March 26. http://yle.fi/uutiset/suvivirsi-ratkaisun_tehnyt_apulaisoikeuskansleri_vastaa_arvosteluun_emme_kiella_mitaantoimme_esiin_ongelman/7157209.
———. 2014d. “Vapaa-ajattelijat: Missä vaiheessa virrestä on tullut muuta kuin uskonnon harjoittamista?” [Freethinkers: when did singing a hymn become something other than practicing religion?] Yleisradion uutiset, May 27. http://yle.fi/uutiset/vapaa-ajattelijat_missa_vaiheessa_virresta_on_tullut_muuta_kuin_uskonnon_harjoittamista/7265341.
———. 2014e. “Oikeuskansleri sai yli 100 kantelua Suvivirsi-linjauksesta—kanteluista ei enää selvityspyyntöjä” [Chancellor received over 100 complaints about Suvivirsi alignment—no more statement requests of the complaint]. Yleisradion uutiset, July 9. https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-7346720