23 SES 13 E JS, Unpacking The Many Meanings Of Justice In Education: Analyzing justice from multiple perspectives
Joint Symposium NW 07, NW23, NW 27
In special needs education issues of inclusion, pluralism and justice is contested. The new Finnish national curriculum for the comprehensive school, implemented 2016, stands out as an example of a curriculum that strongly supports pluralism and human rights education. Its value base and educational aims show a clear movement towards a globally oriented curriculum where social justice issues form the core (Zilliacus, Holm, and Sahlström, submitted). Despite a strong articulation for social justice, there is a need to clearly address existing understandings of social justice and link it to concrete school and classroom practices. More explicit aims to eliminate social and educational inequalities, including issues such as special needs education structures and bullying, would create an even stronger allegiance to equity and justice. Even though we in this paper discuss the issues via the new Finnish curriculum and a case study of two upper comprehensive schools in Finland, similar structures and processes can be found in many other European countries. In educational policies special needs education is described as a practice for social justice. However, there has been a long debate about whether the separation of pupils into special needs classes is an act of social justice or an unjust segregating practice (Vehmas, 2010). In our ethnographic study, the everyday school practices of the special educational needs (SEN) class were differentiated and separated from the rest of the school community, and as a result, the SEN-students were not even regarded as part of the school community. SEN-students worried about, for example, how the low learning expectations placed on them hindered their future educational possibilities. The school’s response was to individualize and personalize the problems and the structural limitations instead of addressing the unjust school processes and structures. A similar issue arises in with regard to bullying where the schools consider bullying as deviant behavior as opposed to ‘normal’ behavior and therefore focus on changing the behavior of individual students (Bansel, et al., 2009; Davies, 2013). Bullying is constructed as a problem of individual students and their deviant behavior, when in light of our results, it would be more important to approach bullying as an issue of structures, contexts, norms and power relations such as those related to racism and ableism (Davies, 2011).
Bansel P, Davies B, Laws C, Linnell S. 2009. Bullies, bullying and power in the contexts of schooling. British Journal of Sociology of Education 30: 59–69. Davies B. 2011. Bullies as guardians of the moral order or an ethic of truths? Children and Society, 25:278–286. Duncan, N. (2013) Using disability models to rethink bullying in schools. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice 8(3) 254–262 Vehmas, S. (2010) Special needs: a philosophical analysis. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 14(1), 87-96. Zilliacus, H., Holm, G. & Sahlström, F. (submitted). Taking steps towards institutionalizing multicultural education – The national curriculum of Finland.
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