22 SES 09 D, New Perspectives to Learning
In recent years, political debate on changes in the welfare state has put focus on welfare professions such as nurses, teachers, and educators. This is reflected in the overall political debate where the traditional understanding of a welfare state is gradually replaced by the notion of a ‘competitive state’ (ref.) Politicians and researchers indicate that the idea of the welfare policy will be associated with the competition agenda. Previously welfare had 'protection', 'treatment’, and 'care' as cornerstones, but in the future competition state the policy will change. In such statehood welfare is more about equipping all people as best as possible to succeed in the competition which the labour market entails (Kristensen 2014).
This shift has already had repercussions on the different levels in the educational system and will have it for years to come. Not only is 'economic rationality', 'efficiency' and 'innovation' becoming keywords for educational planning, but also educational governance, structure and content is undergoing some changes, which puts some important and critical issues for debate.
Recent reform processes in the Danish health education seem to be strongly influenced by the idea of the changeable, flexible, innovative society and inter-disciplinary professions. Thus the idea of general competences have emerged and been highlighted by the introduction of the term ‘generic competences’. The developers involved in the reform process even consider such generic competences as the fundamental base of developing more specific disciplinary skills (Report theme 5). As generic competences move forward disciplinary skills are downplayed.
This direction of the reform process may give rise to concern. One aspect is about professional identity, which could get blurred by the 'generic' idea, and thus become a problem for professionals in respect of identifying the knowledge base of their profession. Another related aspect is the issue of ‘disciplinarity’ and ‘coherence’ which deals with the ' disciplines’ and their internal consistency. We argue that disciplinary knowledge and coherence between disciplines are crucial to proficiency, and also, it includes the ability to act in changing situations (Maton 2011). Many curriculum researchers are even very critical to the idea of generic competences. They term it ‘genericism’ and call it an empty concept of learning, because it is rooted in ‘something unknown’ (Bernstein 2000)(Young 2011)(Beck, John & Young, Michael F.D. 2005)
Our paper is based on an ongoing research project about ‘genericism’ in Danish professional education. We critically discuss the concept of 'generic skills' and argue that the ability to act professionally and reflective, even in changing contexts, should foremost be based on extensive knowledge and skills in the basic disciplines of the professions also termed as disciplinary and procedural knowledge ' (Muller 2000). Thus the main research question for this paper is:
What consequences do recent reform actions in Danish welfare education concerning generic competence have on developing professional knowledge and competence?
The theoretical approach to the criticism of ‘genericism’ will be taken from an educational sociologist perspective, especially within a recent research tradition called 'social realism' (Maton 2010)(Muller 2000)(Young 2008).This direction has strong references to the work of Durkheim, Bernstein and Bourdieu (Maton 2014) and to ‘critical realism’ (Bhaskar 1997)
Beck, John & Young, Michael F.D. 2005, "The assault on the professions and the restructuring of academic and professional identities: a Bernsteinian analysis", British journal of sociology of education, vol. 26, no. 2. Bernstein, B. 2000, Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: theory, research, critique, Rev. ed. edn, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham. Bhaskar, R. 1997, A realist theory of science, Verso, London. Deliveries by nursing education – January 2016 Larsen, V.,f.1959-06-09 2014, Faglighed og problembaseret læring : vidensstrukturer i professionsbacheloruddannelser : en ph.d afhandling, 1st edn, Aalborg Universitet. Kristensen, J.E. (2014): Welfare Professions in competition law - in the light of the welfare policy transformation. In: Harrits, G.S.et al. (ed.) (2014) Professions under pressure - status, knowledge and management. 1st edition. Maton, K. 2011, "Theories and things" in Disciplinarity Functional linguistic and sociological perspectives, ed. F.M. Christie Karl, Continuum, . Maton, K. 2014, Knowledge & knowers : towards a realist sociology of education, Routledge, London. Maton, K. 2010, Social realism, knowledge and the sociology of education : coalitions of the mind, Continuum International Pub. Group, London. McNamara, Martin: “Where is nursing in academic nursing? Disciplinary discourses, identities and clinical practice: a critical perspective from Ireland”, Journal of clinical Nursing, 2010 Muller, J. 2009, "Forms of knowledge and curriculum coherence", Journal of Education and Work, vol. 22, No 3, 205-226. Muller, J. 2000, Reclaiming knowledge : social theory, curriculum, and education policy, Routledge, London. Report Theme 5: Generic competences (www.Sundhed2016.dk) http://sundhed2016.dk/category/nyheder-om-sunhed2016/page/2/ Young, M.F.D. 2008, Bringing knowledge back in : from social constructivism to social realism in the sociology of education, Routledge, London. Young, M. 2011: The return to subjects: a sociological perspective on the UK Coalition government's approach to the14–19 curriculum, The Curriculum Journal, Issue 2, Routledge.
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