10 SES 03 A, Reflexivity, Engagement and Becoming a Teacher
New teachers in the Danish upper secondary schools, called gymnasium, have to attend a teacher-training course (Ministeriet for Børn, Unge og Ligestilling, 2014). It is a prerequisite that the new teachers are employed at a gymnasium and they have to pass the course to stay in the job. The teachers already have a master’s degree that usually gives them the right to teach two subjects, e.g. math, danish or social science. The teacher-training course is called ‘pædagogikum’ and the purpose is to qualify to teaching in the gymnasium. In that sense, ‘pædagogikum’ is an inclusion to teaching at a specific educational level and culture. The research question is how ‘pædagogikum’ socialises to being a teacher in the Danish gymnasium: Is the teacher-training course about knowledge about subjects and pedagogy? Is it about passing exams to stay in a job? Does the course influence the teachers’ view on their teaching subject and give them new perspectives on what it means to be a teacher?
The analytical tool is Bourdieu’s sociological theory. The theory can shed light on ‘pædagogikum’ as influencing the new teachers’ understanding of subjects, pedagogy and being a teacher. Bourdieu’s theory is about positions in society and culture, and his analyses of the French educational system show how school subjects by pedagogy socialise students to a position in society (Bourdieu, 1996b; Bourdieu & Passeron, 2006). Using the term habitus Bourdieu describes how a group establishes common features, and habitus is also connected to the individual and her former experiences (Bourdieu, 1996a). In the book Distinction, habitus is connected to classification of groups in society (Bourdieu, 1995) based on cultural and economic capital in a vocation or profession. Classification and taste are two sides of a coin. Taste is part of a position in society and as an employee e.g. as a teacher. An actor adapts to social necessity, and that is located in body language and spoken words.
The theory is used to analyse how the new teachers understand the necessity of knowledge from ‘pædagogikum’ if they want to continue as teachers at the gymnasium. The teachers develop a kind of ‘taste’ during the course, they are socialised to being teachers at the gymnasium. On the one hand, they have to pass the course and thereby submit to the conventions of being a teacher. On the other hand, they are individuals with different social backgrounds and different teaching subjects that influence their choices and preferences.
The objective is to contribute to a research-based understanding of ‘pædagogikum’ to improve the course and thereby the teaching of the pupils at gymnasiums (Beck; 2008; Hjort & Raae, 2010; Frederiksen & Beck; 2013). In Denmark, there is limited research on teacher-training courses to teach gymnasiums (Haue, 2016). This paper contributes to an understanding of ‘pædagogikum’ as an adult education guiding university graduates to a job. The paper thereby contributes to research in sociology of professions (Evetts, 2003; Harrits, 2014; Noordegraaf, 2015). The paper is also the precondition for a subsequent international comparison of teacher-training courses for secondary schools.
The paper builds on five focus group interviews and observations from the theoretical part of ‘pædagogikum’ in spring 2017 (Gold, 1958; Halkier, 2008; Kristiansen & Krogstrup, 2015). Data is from two courses in pedagogy where the teachers have different subjects and from three residential courses in didactics aimed at teachers who teach math, danish and social science. The interview guide contained semi-structured questions and the point of departure was explorative. The focus group interviews lasted from 30 to 70 minutes and the total number of participants in the interviews was 25. The informants were selected to represent different kinds of gymnasiums (there are four types in Denmark). The interviews were transcribed. The total number of observation days were 10. Three main questions were asked. The first is about how the students experience a personal or professional development during the course. The second is about the part of the teacher-training course where the interview takes place and how this course is connecting to other parts of the ‘pædagogikum’. The third question is about the importance and consequence of the two different kinds of examinations they have to pass. One examination is connected to practical teaching and is oral. The other is a written paper. The practical test is part of the basis for a written statement of the student as a teacher at a gymnasium. These statements are collected from the informants participating in the focus group interviews. The written paper is evaluated and graded by examiners selected by the Ministry of Education. The papers and marks are collected in the study summer 2017.
The expected outcome of the analyses is that the new teachers during the courses develop a common understanding of pedagogy at the gymnasium. Theoretically can be said that the teachers get a sense of taste as a teacher (cf. Bourdieu, 1995). The preferences that the teachers develop are expected to vary as specified in three conclusions concerning the three questions in the focus group interviews. The first conclusion is that teachers will adjust to the necessity of completing ‘pædagogikum’ to become a gymnasium teacher. The informants can see participating in the course as a privilege giving professional development and as a necessity to stay in the job. The second conclusion is that the teachers might encounter different challenges during exams depending on their subjects from university. The reason is that the pedagogical courses and the theoretical tradition from pedagogy are closer to knowledge and traditions from university for students with danish than for students with math or social science. The third conclusion is that some teachers get a new understanding of their teaching subject. A subject at university differs from a subject taught at gymnasiums. The results open up some broader international perspectives and questions. One is how teacher-training courses are developed and implemented at different educational levels and the assumptions behind education to a profession. Another is the lack of coherence between research in an educational field, e.g. gymnasiums, and teacher-training courses like ‘pædagogikum’. Inclusion in a profession as a teacher develops a taste but in what sense does this improve teaching at a gymnasium?
Beck, S. (2008). The teacher’s role and approaches in a knowledge society. Cambridge Journal of Education, 38(4), 465–481. Bourdieu, P. (1995). Distinktionen: en sociologisk kritik af dømmekraften. Frederiksberg: Det lille Forlag. Bourdieu, P. (1996a). Refleksiv sociologi: mål og midler. København: Hans Reitzel. Bourdieu, P. (1996b). The state nobility: elite schools in the field of power. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.-C. (2006). Reproduktionen: bidrag til en teori om undervisningssystemet. København: Hans Reitzel. Frederiksen, L. F., & Beck, S. (2013). Didactical positions and teacher collaboration - Teamwork between possibilities and frustrations. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 59(3), 442-461. Gold, R. L. (1958). Roles in sociological field observations. Social Forces, 36(3), 217–223. Halkier, B. (2008). Fokusgrupper. Frederiksberg: Samfundslitteratur. Haue, H. (2016). Gymnasieskolens udforskning gennem 50 år: en uddannelseshistorikers tilbageblik. Uddannelseshistorie, 143–156. Kristiansen, S., & Krogstrup, H. K. (2015). Deltagende observation: introduktion til en forskningsmetodik. København: Hans Reitzel. Harrits, G. S. (2014). Professionsstuderendes livsstil og professionsuddannelsernes symbolske lukning. In G. S. Harrits, M. B. Johansen, J. E. Kristensen, L. T. Larsen, & S. G. Olesen (ed.), Professioner under pres: Status, viden, styring. Systime Academic. Hjort, K. & Raae; P. H. (2010). Fra frigørelse til fastholdelse: om den kritiske pædagogiks forandrede rolle i gymnasiet. In Dansk pædagogisk tidsskrift, 2010, nr. 3, s. 16-25. Ministeriet for Børn, Undervisning og Ligestilling (2014). Bekendtgørelse om pædagogikum i de gymnasiale uddannelser, BEK nr 447 af 08/05/2014.
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