32 SES 06 B, Inclusion as Organizational Learning of Preschools and of other Educational Organizations
The Swedish school system continuously undergoes challenges and changes. Pre-school classes, schools and leisure-time centres (extended education) are both part of the school organization and constitute individual sectors within it. As individual sectors they are likely to be influenced in different ways by the increased immigration in autumn 2015 and onwards (Skolverket, 2016b), the revised curriculum from 2016 (Skolverket, 2017) and the concentration of people with foreign background in certain districts (Augustsson, 2017). These developments raise expectations on collaboration between the sectors, as precribed in the curriculum and Education Act. There is, however, an imbalance in the collaboration that the curriculum prescribes. Therefore, there is a risk of disparity where certain leisure-time centres may not be able to meet curriculum standards.
The purpose of this paper is to argue for the need of a more precise practice for collaboration (organizing) and cooperation (implemention) between teaching staff in pre-school classes, schools and leisure-time centres, as specified in the current curriculum (Skolverket, 2017).
Previous research suggests that the activities of the school sector are often prioritized in favor of the activities of the leisure-time centres (Augustsson, 2017; Boström & Augustsson, 2016; Haglund, 2015). The leisure-time centres are expected to adapt to the needs of the school sector instead of integrating their activities, as specified in the curriculum and Education Act (see Ackesjö & Landefrö, 2014; Calander, 1999; Haglund, 2009; Munkhammar, 2001; Närvänen & Elvstrand, 2014). Integration refers to a mutual adjustment from all parties involved. Without reciprocity, it becomes a matter of assimilation where the leisure-time centres have to adapt to the school sector. The consequence may be that the school organization as a whole finds it difficult to live up to all 24 curriculum demands for the leisure-time centres (Augustsson, 2017; Skolverket, 2017).
A dilemma in the revised curriculum (Skolverket, 2017) is that there are no clear definitions of collaboration and cooperation which clarify the differences between them. With collaboration, we refer to the organizing of cooperation, while cooperation is about the implementation of actual pedagogical activities (see Calander, 1999; Danermark, 2000).
The school sector expects leisure-times centres to compensate for shortages in teaching staff. Therfore it is important to conceptualize actions that stem from taken for granted norms and values manifested among staff in pre-school classes, schools and at leisure-time centres. A concept used for explaining what is taken for granted is “governing variables”, which refers to “preferred states that individuals strive to ‘satisfice’ when they are acting [and that] can be inferred, by observing tha actions of individuals acting as agents for the organization” (Argyris, 1999, p. 68).
Taken for granted norms and values manifested among staff can be analyzed by using the concepts “single-loop learning” and “double-loop learning” (Argyris, 1999, 2002; Jacobsen & Thorsvik, 2008). According to Argyris (2002, p. 206), learning can be “defined as the detection and correction of error”. Single-loop learning occurs without a change of governing variables before action (Jacobsen & Thorsvik, 2008). Double-loop learning occurs when governing variables are changed before action. The difference is that in single-loop learning there is no questioning of the taken for granted whereas in double-loop learning there is such an interrogation. Notably, Leithwood, Leonard, and Sharratt (1998) argue that single-loop learning is the type of learning which schools in most circumstances engage in.
The data reported in this paper was acquried using a case study approach (Yin, 1994). The study should be considered as multiple, i.e. a study of a leisure-time centre with two departments spatially separated from each other in different buildings. One department consisted of younger children; i.e. pre-school class and first grade. The other consisted of older children; from second to sixth grade. The choice of leisure-time centre was strategic in the sense that it would be within the municipality, have a relatively high number of staff and children, have children of different national backgrounds and that the three school sectors could be considered as well-established. The selection of respondents included female and male employees. The average age was 50 years with a span between 28-63 years. The personnel’s vocational training included childcare practition, behavioral science, leisure-time education, pre-school education, sports education and subject teacher education. Some were educated leisure-time teachers, others not. The number of years within the current profession was on average 18 years with a span between 2 months and 32 years. The data collection was planned in cooperation between a researcher at the University of Gothenburg and two researchers from Mid Sweden University. In their planning, the researchers used the project application’s purpose, which was to develop new knowledge of how staff in a leisure-time centre interprets and realizes values and assignments as regulated in governing documents. The purpose implicated that utterances and observed behavior among the respondents were related to current governing documents. To fulfill the purpose, the data collection began with six participatory observations at the leisure-time centre. The observations were documented individually and distributed to the other researchers. This led to a cooperation on the construction of critical incidents (vignettes), resulting in five vignettes which were validated by three independent colleagues, each with experience from working as leisure-time teachers (Graneheim, Lindgren, & Lundman, 2017). The strategy of the vignettes was that they represented situational data, which means that they were based on researcher observations of ongoing activities and had been discussed with the respondents. The respondents’ comments on the vignettes were recorded and transcribed selectively. Parallel with the planning, implementation, interpretation and construction of vignettes, preparations were made for individual interviews. The ambition was ”finding out how [leisure staff] view the situations they face, how they regard one other, and also how they see themselves” (Hammersley och Atkinson, 2007, p. 3).
This paper shows that the operational responsibility for collaboration and cooperation between the pre-school class, school and leisure-time centre is unevenly distributed. Research shows that some leisure-time centres are expected to assimilate to the school sector, even though the individual leisure-time centre is thereby at risk of failing to fulfill the core content of its own part of the curriculum. Previous research also reveals the importance of taking into account the critical voices that warn of the confusion among schools and leisure-time centres regarding their respective tasks, and to avoid the collaborative norm that: leisure teachers who take a positive attitude towards collaboration with teachers and school integration are rewarded, while those who want to develop the profession in another direction are punished (Calander, 1999, p. 191). This underlines the importance of pre-school classes, schools and leisure-time centres individually defining both their unique contribution and their part of the shared educational responsibility. This can be clarified by means of in-depth research with an action-learning method. The purpose of such a method is to develop a new situational practice for organizing teaching and learning (didactics) between teachers in pre-school class, school and leisure-time centre. The aim is to develop and improve teaching and pupil transitions between these sectors in order to individualize (“personalize”, Mitchell, 2017, p. 55) development and learning. It is also important that the leisure-time centre is reevaluated in line with the revised curriculum (Skolverket, 2017) and transforms from being associated with childcare to being conceived as a legitimate complementary school form in its own right (see Calander, 2001; Schüpbach, 2014).
Argyris, C. (1999). On organizational learning (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell. Argyris, C. (2002). Double-Loop Learning, Teaching, and Research. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 1(2), 206–218. Augustsson, G. (2017). The extended education och styrdokumenten – från politisk intention till pedagogisk praxis. Avdelningen för utbildningsvetenskap. Sundsvall: Mittuniversitetet. Calander, F. (1999). Från fritidens pedagog till hjälplärare: fritidspedagogers och lärares yrkesrelation i integrerade arbetslag. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Calander, F. (2001). Fritidspedagogen: lärare, barnavårdare eller fritidsledare? Uppsala. Danermark, B. (2000). Collaboration - himmel eller helvete? Stockholm: Gothia. Graneheim, U. H., Lindgren, B.-M., & Lundman, B. (2017). Methodological challenges in qualitative content analysis: A discussion paper. Nurse Education Today, 56, 29–34. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2017.06.002 Hammersley, M., & Atkinson, P. (2007). Ethnography: principles in practice. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Jacobsen, D. I., & Thorsvik, J. (2008). Hur moderna organisationer fungerar. Lund: Studentlitteratur. Leithwood, K., Leonard, L., & Sharratt, L. (1998). Conditions Fostering Organizational Learning in Schools. Educational Administration Quarterly, 34(2), 243–276. http://doi.org/10.1177/0013161X98034002005 Mitchell, D. (2017). Mångfald i skolan: framgångsrika sätt att möta (o)likheter. Stockholm: Natur & Kultur. Schüpbach, M. (2014). Extended Education in Switzerland: Values in Past, Present, and Future. International Journal for Research on Extended Education, 2(2), 104–118. Skolverket. (2016a). Läroplan för grundskolan, förskoleklassen och the extended education 2011: reviderad 2016. Stockholm: Skolverket. Skolverket. (2016b). Pisa 2015: 15-åringars kunskaper i naturvetenskap, läsförståelse och matematik. Stockholm: Skolverket. http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264266490-en Skolverket. (2017). Läroplan för grundskolan, förskoleklassen och the extended education 2011: reviderad 2017. Stockholm: Skolverket. Retrieved from http://www.skolverket.se/publikationer?id=3813 Yin, R. K. (1994). Case study research: design and methods. Applied social research methods series, 5 (2.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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