ERG SES C 06, Vocational Training and Education
Due to the fact that pupils without completed education easily can be excluded from the labour market, different political strategies focus on the prevention of school dropouts (Dale, 2008). The Europe 2020 strategy, the EU’s current growth strategy, has amongst others the goal to reduce school dropouts in the EU to rates below 10% (European Commission, 2012a, 2012b). The strategy has also an impact on the national education and curriculum strategies in Norway and Germany (e.g. Kultusministerkonferenz, 2007, Kunnskapsdepartementet, 2012, Report No. 16 to the Storting (2006-2007), Stortingsmelding 31 (2007-2008), Report No. 44 to the Storting (2008-2009), Stortingsmelding 22 (2010- 2011). In Norway, one of the strategies for the prevention of dropouts is a reform of lower secondary school that envisions education to become more practical, diverse, motivating and relevant. As part of this reform, the new school subject arbeidslivsfaget, a vocational oriented subject, has been introduced to lower secondary school (Utdanningsdirektoratet, 2011). According to Report No. 44 to the Storting (2008-2009), the three main reasons for the introduction of the arbeidslivsfag are (i) to introduce vocational education and training (VET) to the pupils and through this reduce the dropout rates from VET in upper secondary school, (ii) to recruit more pupils to choose VET in upper secondary school, as future prospects indicate that society will lack labour with certificate of apprenticeship and (iii) to raise the status of VET through introducing practical knowledge as equal with academic knowledge. There exist equivalent vocational oriented subjects in lower secondary school in Germany, for instance in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).
Vocational oriented subjects in lower secondary school emphasise employment and vocation, but are also part of the generic purpose of curriculum and schooling with an emphasis on Bildung. However, a shift in the first decade of 2000 has resulted in that curricula nowadays emphasise competencies and no longer are legitimised through theories of Bildung (Scholl, 2012). This shift has also implications on schooling in general, as expectations and goals become important for the legitimation of schooling. Therefore, I focus on the question how vocational oriented subjects in Norway and Germany (NRW) are legitimised in view of global and local policy expectations. This paper compares the main purpose and goals of the two subjects, including conditions for school reforms and the strategies that promote these reforms.
I draw on conceptual frameworks deduced from perspectives on a changing grammar of schooling (Hofstetter & Schneuwly, 2013). Young (2010, 2011) discusses traditional education systems and current education policies and argues that they do not necessarily promote goals as pupils’ participation in schools and accomplishment of upper secondary school. Education systems based on the elite school idea maintain the boundaries between a society’s elite and the mass by denying the mass access to what Young calls for “powerful knowledge”. Therefore they contribute to preservation of social divisiveness and inequality. According to Young, this is done by school systems that differentiate pupils by dividing them into groups that follow different tracks, for example “elite tracks” and vocational tracks (Young & Muller, 2010). Young (2010, 2011) describes current educational policies as the opposite to the elite education system because boundaries are weakened through a de-differentiation of knowledge and institutions. For instance, boundaries between school knowledge and everyday knowledge are weakened and generic learning outcomes and skills are emphasized instead of subject-specific curriculum criteria. However, Young criticizes this development because it will not promote “powerful knowledge” either and instead, detain pupils’ knowledge that is important for an objective understanding of the world.
Dale, E. L. (2008). Fellesskolen – reproduksjon av sosial ulikhet. Oslo: Cappelen Damm AS. European Commission (2012a). Europe 2020. Retrieved from: http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_en.htm# European Commission (2012b). Europe 2020 Targets. Retrieved from: http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/europe-2020-in-a-nutshell/targets/index_en.htm Hofstetter, R & Schneuwly, B. (2013). Changes in Mass Schooling: school form and grammar of schooling as reagents. European Educational Research Journal, 12(2), 166-175. Kultusministerkonferenz (2007). Handlungsrahmen zur Reduzierung der Zahl der Schülerinnen und Schüler ohne Schulabschluss, Sicherung der Anschlüsse und Verringerung der Zahl der Ausbildungsabbrecher. Retrieved from: http://www.kmk.org/fileadmin/veroeffentlichungen_beschluesse/2007/2007_10_18- Handlungsrahmen-Schulabbrecher_01.pdf Kunnskapsdepartementet (2012). Strategi for ungdomstrinnet: Motivasjon og mestring for bedre læring - Felles satsing på klasseledelse, regning, lesing og skriving. Retrieved from: http://www.regjeringen.no/upload/KD/Vedlegg/Grunnskole/Strategiplaner/F_4276B_str ategi_for_ungdomstrinnet.pdf Ragin, C.C. & Amoroso L.M. (2011). Construction Social Research. Los Angeles: Sage. Report No. 16 to the Storting (2006-2007) Early Intervention for Lifelong Learning. Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. Report No. 44 to the Storting (2008-2009). Education strategy. Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. Scholl, D. (2012). Are the Traditional Curricula Dispensable? A Feature Pattern to Compare Different Types of Curriculum and a Critical View of Educational Standards and Essential Curricula in Germany. European Educational Research Journal, 11(3), 328-341. Steiner-Khamsi, Gita. (2013). What is Wrong with the ‘What-Went-Right’ Approach in Educational Policy? European Educational Research Journal, 12(1). Stortingsmelding 31 (2007-2008). Kvalitet i skolen. Kunnskapsdepartementet. Stortingsmelding 22 (2010-2011). Motivasjon – Mestring – Muligheter: Ungdomstrinnet. Kunnskapsdepartementet. Utdanningsdirektoratet (2011). Læreplan og veileder i arbeidslivsfag. Retrieved from: http://www.udir.no/Lareplaner/Forsok-og-pagaende-arbeid/Arbeidslivsfag/Lareplan-i-arbeidslivsfag/ Young, M. (2010). Alternative educational futures for a knowledge society. European Educational Research Journal 9(1), 1-12. Young, M. & Muller, J. (2010). Three educational scenarios for the future: Lessons from the sociology of knowledge. European Journal of Education 45(1), 11-27. Young, M. (2011). Curriculum policies for a knowledge society? In L. Yates & M. Grumet (Eds), Curriculum in today’s world: Configuring knowledge, identities, work and politics. London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
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