07 SES 08 B, Social Justice: Marginalization and Special Education
When student (mis)behavior is discussed, it is commonly seen as taking place in the student and seen as something to be ‘fixed’, ‘corrected’, ‘prevented’ and, to an extent, ‘understood’ by the educator. The research at hand is interested in how specific behaviors become assigned as “bad” and others as “good” in the first place. We take the lead from MacLure, Jones, Holmes and MacRae (2008, 2012) who argue that “the frames that make sense of problem behavior are discursive and not causal: one cannot simply predict that the occurrence of certain […] behaviour will lead to a problematic reputation. It is the discursive interpretation/explanation of behavior that grants meaning and significance to difference.”
Similarly, in this research margin is not seen as a static place or state of existence but as constantly produced through discursive claims for what belongs to the center and what belongs to the margin (Macartney 2012, Messiou 2011, see also Levitas 2004). Various intersections of characteristics, actions, life situations or backgrounds may constitute individuals or groups in the margin. This research is interested in the processes through which such marginalization takes place in formal education through assigning meanings to student behavior as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
The context of the research is a seemingly homogeneous area in northern Finland, in an era in which equality was highly prominent in national policies and decision making (1968-1991). We look at assigning meanings to student behavior when students have already been characterized as “problematic” by teachers in school. The research question is:
How do teachers perceive and label the behavior of “problematic” students as “good” or “bad”?
Macartney, B.C. (2012) Teaching through an ethich of belongin, care and obligation as a critical approach to transforming education. International Journal of Inclusive Education 16(2), 171-183. MacLure, M., Jones, L., Holmes, R., and MacRae, C. (2008). Becoming a problem: how and why children acquire a reputation as 'naughty' in the earliest years at school. Economic and Social Research Council. MacLure, Jones, Holmes and MacRae (2012) Becoming a problem: behaviour and reputation in the early years classroom. British Educational Research Journal 38(3), 447–471. Messiou, 2011. Collaborating with children in exploring marginalisation: an approach to inclusive education. International Journal of Inclusive Education. 1-12. iFirst article. Lanas, M. & Kelchtermans, K. (2015). “This has more to do with who I am than with my skills” Student teacher subjectification in Finnish teacher education. Teaching and teacher education 47, 22–29. Levitas R (2004) Let's hear it for Humpty: social exclusion, the third way and cultural capital. Cultural Trends 13(50), 41–56.
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