25 SES 01, Children's Human Rights Education - Policy and practice
This paper reports on an investigation of the content of the teaching and learning of human rights in two Swedish classrooms with eleven-year-old children.
The most recent Education Act (Sverige, 2016/2010) and the current national curriculum (LGr11) in Sweden both emphasise the teaching and learning of human rights. In the section on the fundamental values and tasks of the school, it says that: ‘Education should impart and establish respect for human rights and the fundamental democratic values on which Swedish society is based’ (LGr11, p. 9). Human rights are part of the so-called fundamental values that, together with knowledge, should permeate all education. The emphasis on rights in the Swedish curriculum is also repeated in international frameworks, where education, content and processes are underlined as the most important tools for developing human rights (UN, 2006). However, content and processes have not received much attention in educational research (Thelander, 2009; Quennerstedt, 2011; Brantefors & Quennerstedt, 2016; Brantefors & Thelander, 2017). Instead, mainly the responsibility to respect children has been in focus (Quennerstedt 2011). This means that, at present, educational research has few answers to questions about the content and processes of teaching and learning, even though it has contributed with other important knowledge (cf. I’Anson 2014).
The aim of this study is to clarifying the content in the teaching and learning of rights of eleven-year-old children with the following four questions: 1) Which content is taught (teaching content)? 2) Why is it taught? 3) Which content do the pupils say they have learned (learning content)? 4) What are the possible consequences of that learning for children to be socially included?
The study draws on the (European) Didaktik tradition (e.g. Gundem, 2011). Didaktik (here didactics) systematically deals with issues based on the three didactic questions what, how and why in education (e.g. Gundem, 2011; Hudson & Meyer, 2011) and in particular the content (the topics, materials or subjects concerned with human rights [cf. Englund, 1997]) is of interest. The question of what was taught (teaching content) and what was learned (learning content) has been in focus for the paper. The German educational theorist Klafki (1995) terms these two aspects of education Bildungsinhalt (teaching content) and Bildungsgehalt (learning content). Klafki is also well known for his didactic analysis of the teaching and learning based on the three didactic questions.
Methodology The research was conducted through fieldwork in educational practice with eleven-year-old children in two classrooms: an urban, multicultural classroom and a rural, culturally homogeneous classroom. The teachers were asked to undertake planned teaching about children’s human rights. They were free to choose educational content and working methods, and were given no further guidance by the researcher about content or methods. The data used in this paper was collected through video documented observations and interviews with teachers and children. The material in transcript underwent a partial didactic analysis (Klafki, 1995), which means identification of what was taught (the teaching content), what the purpose of the teacher was and what the children have learned (learning content). The teaching and learning content was thoroughly searched through for patterns and themes and the purpose of the analysis was to find qualitative differences in the material (cf. Braun & Clarke, 2006).
Results The main result of the study is that the pupils’ own meaning making (the learning content) is similar to that which is offered in class, which indicates that the pupils have learned the content. Four dominant content themes (the what) have been identified in the teaching and learning of rights: 1. Fundamental and democratic values. There is a strong connection between rights and fundamental democratic values, but the relationship between the two is not clear to the teachers or to the pupils. 2. Human rights. The children should learn about rights in order to know how to respecting others, become good fellow humans and not discriminate. The children, however, do not have much to say about rights, but they underline that all people have equal value and that rights are not fulfilled for all people. 3. Bullying and violations. Bullying and violations are here presented as a rights content. The pupils are well aware of this problem (but without connecting it to rights) and they underline the need to counteract all bullying. 4. Negative life conditions. Those that are weak and vulnerable and those that have their rights violated need “our” support and protection. This is emphasised by the teachers as well as by the pupils. There is a need for richer countries (‘us’) to support “the others”. The question is if the action proposed would include all people or if this action is more of an action of charity or an action of false recognition (Taylor, 1994; cf. Brantefors, 2015). Four central conclusions are drawn: i) rights are weak as knowledge content, ii) rights are the other’s rights, iii) rights are violated and iv) rights education needs to be developed.
References Brantefors, L. (2015). Between culture and cultural heritage: Curriculum historical preconditions as constitutive for cultural relations – the Swedish case. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 23(2), 301-322. DOI: 10.1080/14681366.2014.994663. Brantefors, L. & Quennerstedt, A. (2016). Teaching and learning children’s human rights. A research synthesis. Cogent Education, 3: 1247610. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2016.12476 Brantefors, L. & Thelander, N. (2017). Teaching and learning traditions in children’s human rights: Curriculum emphases in theory and practice. International Journal of Children’s Rights, 25, 456–471. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1163/15718182-02502009 Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/11735 Englund, T. (1997). Undervisning som meningserbjudande [Teaching and learning as offering of meaning]. In M. Uljens (Ed.), Didaktik – teori, reflektion och praktik [Didactics – theory, reflection and practice], 120–145. Lund: Studentlitteratur. Gundem, B. B. (2011). Europeisk didaktikk: tenkning og viten [European didactics: imagination and knowing]. Oslo: Universitetsforl. Hudson, B. & Meyer, M. A. (Eds.). (2011). Beyond fragmentation: didactics, learning and teaching in Europe. Opladen: Budrich, Barbara. I’Anson, J. (2014). Educational research as counterpoint: Reflections on the UNCRC at 25. Paper presented in ECER, Porto, Portugal. Klafki, W. (1995). Didactic analysis as the core of preparation of instruction (Didaktische Analyse als Kern der Unterrichsvorbereitung). Journal of Curriculum Studies, 27 (1), 13–30. LGr11 Curriculum for the compulsory school, preschool class and the recreation centre 2011. Stockholm: National Agency for Education. Quennerstedt, A. (2011). The construction of children’s rights in education – a research synthesis. International Journal of Childrens Rights, 19 (2011), 661–678. Sverige [Sweden] (2016). Skollagen (2010:800)[Act of Education]: med lagen om införande av skollagen (2010:801). 7., [uppdaterade] uppl. Stockholm: Wolters Kluwer. Taylor, Charles (1994). Multiculturalism: examining the politics of recognition. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press Thelander, N. (2009). We are all the same, but... Kenyan and Swedish school children’s views on children’s rights. Diss. Karlstad: Karlstad University. UN; UNESCO & Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2006) Plan of Action. World Programme for Human Rights Education. First Phase. New York/Geneve.
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