10 SES 11 E, Autonomy, Dialogue and the Psychosocial
In this paper, I investigate how the challenges of psychosocial environment are addressed in Norway’s education sector. More specifically, I investigate the interplay of education politics and teacher education. Psychosocial environment refers to the intersection between psychosocial aspects of experience (e.g. thoughts, emotions, affects) and a wider scope of social interaction (e.g. relationships, culture). In terms of education, it encompasses a number of elements such as inclusiveness and equity, the well-being of the learner, bullying, relations between teachers-students, and psychological health. Over the last years, we have seen heightened attention to psychosocial environment in educationworldwide, led by international actors and policymakers such as OECD, European commission and UNICEF.
In accordance with this international tendency, Norway, within the last two decades, has strengthened its efforts on psychosocial environment in education, both on a policy level and among researchers. This tendency resulted for instance in a new chapter of the Education Act, which came into force in 2003, as it gives all pupils in primary, lower secondary and upper secondary the individual statutory right to a positive psychosocial school environment” (UDIR, n.d.).
The question remains which potential implications this implied shift of responsibility has on the field of teacher education. Primary and secondary teacher education in Norway is nationally regulated and has undergone several changes within recent years. Within the framework of a comprehensive reform package, teacher education was extended from a four-year to a five-year masters program. This is exemplary of the increased political interest in teacher education and the expected professional qualification of teachers in particular. The recent reforms have sparked discussions on how the academic training of teachers should be organized and what kind of knowledge is needed. Even though politicians have emphasized the importance of specific knowledge and competencies regarding teachers’ task to ensure a safe psychosocial school environment to each student, the question of how these demands are specified as part of the concrete practices of teacher education remains to be investigated in detail. I will thus pay closer attention to the intersection of teacher education and its framing political landscape in terms of the theoretical demands for and practical measures to creating a positive psychosocial school environment.
The objectives of this paper will be underpinned by extensive fieldwork carried out at an institution for teacher education in Norway within the upcoming months. Additionally, this empirical data will be juxtaposed with a selection of policy documents engaging in the discourse of psychosocial school environment. My intent is to analytically bring into contact these policy documents and the findings of the fieldwork. In terms of methodological considerations, I will describe this interplay as a complex and concrete interaction of various actors, their interests and alliances, following the principles of actor-network theory as conceived by Bruno Latour (2005) and Lindsay Prior (2003).
Considering the lack of empirical data, I cannot specify the detailed results of this project. However, in terms of the content of the policy papers in question, there are some interesting preliminary remarks to be pointed out, which will set the tone for the analysis. This regards first of all a shift in regards to teachers’ responsibilities. While the challenges of psychosocial school environment had been regarded as too complex to be solved by individuals (teachers) alone, the reform of Norway’s Education Act indicates that these challenges could and should be met on an individual level. This further implies a strengthened belief in school’s ability to control the complex social fabric that constitutes psychosocial school environment. This reinforced responsibility of teachers becomes particularly tangible in connection with the social phenomenon of bullying, which holds close discursive ties to psychosocial school environment in Norway. The concept of bullying is based on forms of behaviorism and generates clear guidelines for teachers to control students’ behavior. With the raised concern of psychosocial environment in schools and strong public attention to bullying, we have seen an enormous expansion of a program-oriented teacher qualification. External researchers, funded by the government, provide teachers with a pedagogical “toolbox”. In line with international guidelines given by institutions such as OECD, Norwegian interest in psycho-social school environment follows an instrumental-technical argumentation. Accordingly, a student’s well-being is not perceived as an intrinsic value but rather as a goal to achieve learning. This is backed by research demonstrating that soft factors such as psychosocial school environment have a strong influence on students’ academic performance. In this regard, a positive psychosocial context is typically conceived as an instrument for effective teaching and learning. How this instrumental employment of the psychosocial sphere influences the objectives and methods of teacher education, needs further discussion.
Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. NOU 2015:2. (2015). Å høre til: virkemidler for et trygt psykososialt skolemiljø Oslo: Departementenes sikkerhets- og serviceorganisasjon, Informasjonsforvaltning. Prior, L. (2003). Using documents in social research. London: Sage. UDIR (n.d.). Pupils’ school environment Chapter 9a of the Education Act. Retrieved from: https://www.udir.no/globalassets/upload/brosjyrer/5/pupils_school_environment_9a.pdf
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.