23 SES 02 D, Policy Reforms and Teacher Professionalism (Part 1)
Paper Session: to be continued in 23 SES 03 D, 23 SES 04 D
This project deals with the educational restructuring movement, viewed as ‘world movement’ and as a result of a variety of changes in policies, societies, world-economies, governments, etc. and its profound and general impact on education and the teaching profession (Lindblad, Goodson, 2011). At the level of educational system these changes can be described with the help of concepts, such as decentralisation, privatisation, marketization and New Public Management. This neo-liberal way of restructuring has become a broad-based movement across countries, though differing in various national and regional contexts. However, of sociological interest is that different consequences of similar policy measures in diverse national and regional contexts are also related to the different strategies and actions of the occupations studied (Lindblad, Goodson, 2011). In this study, the focus is teachers’ professional work in Sweden under restructuring. The main object is not to capture the restructuring or policy implementation effects as such, but from a specific point of view to study the consequences for the conditions of the teachers’ profession of what is called the performative turn (Foss Lindblad, Zambeta, E. & de Lima J., 2007). Facing a stronger emphasis on tests, assessment and learning outcomes, what kind of strategies and actions do teachers develop to maintain an inclusive class with a more heterogeneous and increased diversity of students? In other words, how to maintain “A school for everyone” when confronting greater demands for differentiation? In a nutshell; how to solve the contradiction by offering a compulsory and cohesive school to every student (including lower secondary level) at the same time as differentiating and selecting for further levels?
In an ongoing research project I have been meeting and discussing with teachers working in Stockholm, at the level of lower secondary school (Hultqvist, 2011). The purpose of my project is to get a deeper knowledge of the conditions of the teacher’s work. How do they, within the framework of a heterogeneous and compulsory school – deal with the need to differentiate, with stronger emphasis on learning outcomes and students performances?What do their subjective experiences as teachers tell us of changes in the profession? My interest is to study how teachers are dealing with this contradictory mission; offering a cohesive and equal school at the same time as confronting students from various backgrounds, which make it hard to select and distinguish along meritocratic lines.
The research project has been developed within the theoretical framework of the sociology of education, with its origins in Emile Durkheim, developed in the theoretical works of Basil Bernstein and François Dubet, among others. The contribution of Bernstein gives valuable tools for understanding the shift from a weak to a strong classification, which is exemplified with in the stronger emphasize on subjects, learning outcomes, standardization, etc. In the book, Le déclin de l’institution, the French sociologist François Dubet studies the role of the school as a social institution in the modern project and how this role has changed as consequence of societal changes (Dubet, 2002). The development of a more equal school system, in Sweden, presented in the seventies as “A school for everyone” has encountered difficulties for the meritocratic model. Dubet analyses this contradiction between a democratized mass education system and the meritocratic model, with its consequences for the teaching profession. I found it fruitful to participate in teacher’s subjective experiences and to analyse their views of the teaching profession against the perspective of changes of the school system.
Bernstein, B. (1971)On classification and framing of educational knowledge// I: Knowledge and Control. New direction for sociology of education. London: Collier Mac Millan. Bunar, N. (2009) När marknaden kom till förorten. (When market came to the suburb) Lund: Studentlitteratur. Foss Lindblad R. Zambeta, E. & de Lima, J. (2007). Education restructuring as a world movement: On the production of educational change in political and professional contexts. AERA 2007 meeting. Dubet, F. (2002) Le déclin d’institution. Paris: L’épreuve des faits, Seuil. Goodsson, I. & Lindblad, S. (2011) Professional Knowledge and Educational Restructuring in Europe. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Hultqvist, E. (2011) Om lärarnas förändrade yrkesvillkor (About changes of teachers’s working conditions). Pedagogisk forskning i Sverige, no 3 2011.
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