This paper examines Finnish (n = 464) and Iranian (n = 556) teachers’
views on their competence to teach purpose. ‘Purpose’ is defined as
a stable intention to accomplish something that is both meaningful
to the self and of consequence beyond the self over time. The study
revealed that all Iranian teachers evaluated their competence for
teaching purpose as being high, regardless of the subject taught.
In contrast, among Finnish teachers, there were statistically
significant relationships between the subject taught and teachers’
self-perceptions: religious education seemed to provide a subject in
which Finnish teachers can guide students to consider explicitly their
purpose in life and plans for the future, while science and mathematics
appeared to offer the most challenging contexts for teaching purpose.
Hence, the results challenge Finnish in-service and pre-service teacher
education programmes to create new approaches and new cultures
for mathematics and science education, which intentionally take into
account the moral aspects of teaching. Moreover, regression analysis
revealed that teachers’ ethical sensitivity predicted their views on
teaching purpose in both countries. Results indicate that improving
teachers’ ethical sensitivity skills in teacher education programmes
could provide a significant path for supporting teachers’ competence
in teaching purpose.