19 SES 09 B, Teachers' Empowerment, Students' Power and Participation
This paper investigates education in social science with students that are regarded neither as problems nor as subjects involved in anything related to school-failure. My study is directed at a student that seldom is seen in educational research (although some does exist e.g. Kahn 2011; Ball, Zanten & Darchy-Koechlin 2015; Koh & Kenway 2016) namely the high achieving, financially secure, well-being, strong and dedicated student. Need of health care or social benefits, signs of having any worry, trouble or difficulty in coping with schoolwork or reaching desired learning goals, are examples of what is not on display in this school. Those I direct the study’s interest towards show no sign of experiencing obstacles in their pursuit of the highest grades or the top social position; instead they seem to be intrigued by the competition and collective hunt for status.
Educational science shows links between school successes and where the students come from before entering school (e.g. Ball 2006; Öhrn & Holm 2014; Bergström 2015), but in what way does their plans on destinations after leaving school matter? What is brought into the classroom along with these students; what do they create in the social science classroom and what do they choose to bring from school when leaving it? How is education in social science created, recreated and negotiated through interaction in class in regards to the needs of the students in this study?
In Sweden there is currently an increasing level of segregation in school due to the free choice of school according to OECD (2016). The empirical field for participant observation is located in the south of Sweden. It has amongst the highest measurable success in the area, judging by grades. The field chosen for this study is a private school. Those who attend this school are not only good at getting the highest grades, they have also chosen a school that fulfils their own strive to learn from the unofficial (but well outspoken) curriculum at the school: A curriculum that favours ideals of market-relatedness, entrepreneurship, business, economics and leadership.
One out of four students in Swedish upper secondary school have their education at a private free school (Holmström 2016). The free school system is driven mainly by school enterprises in one of Europe’s most privatized education (schoolyear 1-12), therefore this type of empirical field has started to appear during the last 20 years. Scientific interest is directed towards a highly segregated educational landscape, but instead of focusing on disadvantaged this study put on the ones at the top under review: The most successful with great goal-fulfilment are studied with aims to understand power, success and its dimensions in social science education in the specific circumstances on the chosen school.
The theoretical framework used for the study is built up by Beauvoir’s (1976, 1953) conception of the other. In the studied school a focus is on “the first”. Beauvoir writes that there can be no first without the other. Otherness is not performed at the school, but is a requirement for the identity of this school and its students. Sartre’s (1969) thoughts of nothingness as a foundation for a being that is separated from authentic consciousness contributes with an understanding of that what is not and how it can be understood as versions of “being”. Hannah Arendt’s (2006; 1981; 1958) writings on politics, responsibility for the common world and the world alienation that a turning away from politics and common responsibility is related to the subject content of social science and the students' way of not being as political as the Swedish national curriculum calls for.
Arendt, H. (1981). The life of the mind: San Diego, Calif. : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981, 1. one-volume ed. Arendt, H. (2006). The Crisis in Education Between past and future : eight exercises in political thought (pp. 170-193). New York: Penguin Books. Arendt, H. (1958). The human condition. Chicago, Ill.: Ball, S. J. (2006) Education policy and social class: the selected works of Stephen J. Ball (New York, Routledge). Ball, S.J., Zanten, A.V. & Darchy-Koechlin, B. (red.) (2015). World yearbook of education 2015: elites, privilege and excellence : the national and global redefinition of advantage. Beauvoir, S.D. (1976). The ethics of ambiguity. New York: Kensington Pub. Co.. Beauvoir, S.D. (1953). The second sex. London: Cape. Holmström, Christian (2016) Ekonomifakta http://www.ekonomifakta.se/Fakta/Valfarden-i-privat-regi/Skolan-i-privat-regi/Elever-i-friskola/ (2016-04-11). Bergström, Y. (2015). Unga och politik: Utbildning, plats, klass och kön. Stockholm: Premis. Khan, S.R. (2011). Privilege: the making of an adolescent elite at St. Paul's School. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Koh, A., & Kenway, J. (2016). Elite Schools: Multiple Geographies of Privilege: Routledge. Lave, J. (2011). Apprenticeship in critical ethnographic practice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. OECD (2016), “Sweden should urgently reform its school system to improve quality and equity”, http://www.oecd.org/sweden/sweden-should-urgently-reform-its-school-system-to-improve-quality-and-equity.htm. Sartre, J.-P. (1969). Being and nothingness : an essay on phenomenological ontology: London : Routledge, 1969. Walford, G. (2009). Critical ethnography and education. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Öhrn, E. & Holm, A. (red.) (2014). Att lyckas i skolan: om skolprestationer och kön i olika undervisningspraktiker. Diss. Göteborg : Göteborgs universitet, 2014. Göteborg.
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