In between the need and the uncertainty: Estonian teachers' ambiguities, experiences and reflections in tackling extremism in the classroom

Heidi Maiberg, Alar Kilp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Schools are one of the primary settings for fostering skills to support
students in understanding the causes, motivations and outcomes of extremism (Vallinkoski et al. 2021). This article presents the results of a pilot study focusing on Estonian educators’ experiences with discussing and tackling extremism in the classroom. The questionnaire of the study is created based on a similar study conducted in Finland by Vallinkoski, Koirikivi and Malkki (2021), with the permission of the main author and adaptions for the Estonian context. Less than half of the teachers mentioned instances where they had met students supporting or following an extremist ideology. Most of the latter were not fully certain about how to classify the cases they had in mind. The examples that were mentioned most often were right-wing extremism, conspiracy theories, Islamism, coronavirus, Nazism and Communism. Estonian teachers are enthusiastic about the positive role of education in the prevention of extremism. However, they struggle with the ‘ambiguity’ of extremism, partly due to the Estonian system of education that does not include a nation-wide program for prevention of extremism or counter-radicalisation in education. Correspondingly, teachers feel quite uncertain about what their exact duty, role and mandate is as far as extremism is concerned.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107–128
Number of pages21
JournalSociety Register
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2022

Cite this