ERG SES C 09, Children and Education
This paper focuses on the theoretical framework for early intervention in education. Early intervention (EI) has been given a significant position directing work especially in kindergartens all over the Western world resent years. According to international and national policy documents for early intervention, standardized tests and programs are emphasized working with EI to detect and prevent difficulties at an early stage in children’s lives (EC 2006; UNESCO 2006; OECD 2006; White paper no. 16 (2006-2007)). Inspired by the American EI-tradition these programs are legitimated through a cost-effective argument showing that EI has positive societal and economic long-term effects (Karolyn , Kilburn & Cannon 2005).
However critique has been raised against these directives given from the national level pointing to several problematic issues between program-oriented early intervention programs and the goals of inclusive education (Arnesen, 2012; Haustätter 2009; Pettersvoll & Østrem, 2012). This criticism point to the deficit model and the deterministic sides of early intervention and how is problematic in light of inclusive theory. The criticism is outlined in this paper and it is argued that early intervention is in danger of becoming an “instrumental mistake”, as described by the Norwegian philosopher, Hans Skjervheim, in the 60-70s. The point is, drawing from Skjervheim’s theoretical framework, that the early intervention approach does not take into consideration the ethical obligation of treating children as ends not only as means in education. By reducing the child to an object one loses the opportunity to consider the ethical, aesthetical and emotional experiences that is of great importance to understand and handle the child as active co-creator in their own lives and as learners.
This paper will outline Skjervheim’s theory of participation and fellowship. Departing from a hermeneutic and phenomenological point of view, Skjervheim claims that positivistic epistemology is inappropriate in the social sciences. The object-oriented approach is inadequate of measuring how human beings as intentional active creatures making sense and matter of their world. He describes this as objectivism, where man is reduced to an object for instrumental purposes (Skjervheim 1996). Skjervheim attack the professional view of objectivism in personal interaction. According to Skjervheim, human interaction is rooted in the crucial relationship of possible conversations that can manifest itself in two different ways. He makes a distinction between entering a conversation as a participator or a spectator.(Skjervheim 1996)The first type of communication is driven by the fact that we are participants working together towards a specific problem or phenomenon, in other words we have a common subject. The second type is approaching the other persons statement not getting involved with the problem, but simply registering the fact that the other referring to that subject matter. This type of communication makes us into spectators of human interaction. The participative attitude is one of the fundamental elements for developing and acting in an inclusive social environment (Haustätter 2007).
Arnesen, A.L. (2012) Inkludering i det utdanningspolitiske barnehagelandskapet. [Inclusion in the lanscape of kindergarten] In Anne Lise Arnesen(ed). Inkludering. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Europeean Comission (2006). Efficiency and Equity in European Education and Training System Brussels: European Commission. Hausstätter, R. S. (2009). Ingen sto igjen – men hvor løp de hen?[No one left behind- but where did they run] In Spesialpedagogikk 5, 26-35. Haustätter, R. S. (2007). Students reasons for studying special needs education: challenges facing inclusive education. In Teacher Development. Vol. 11, no 1, p. 45- 57. Karolyn, L. A., M. Kilburn & J. S. Cannon (2005) Early childhood Interventions: Proven Results, Future Promise. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. OECD (2006). Equity in Education. Thematic Review. Norway country note. Paris: OECD Pettersvold, M. og Østrem, S. (2012). Mestrer, mester ikke – jakten på det normale barnet.[Can, can not- looking for the normal child.] Otta: Res Publica Skjervheim, H. (1996) Participant and spectator, In: Hans Skjervheim selected essays. Bergen: Department of Philosphy. UNESCO (2006). Strong Foundations. Early Childhood Care and Education. EFA Global Monitoring Report 2007. Paris : OECD. White paper no. 16 (2006-2007). Noone left behind: Early intervention for lifelong learning. Norway, Oslo: Department of Education .
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