11 SES 04, Educational Reforms and Leadership
In Swedish leisure-time centres (LTCs), about half a million children participate in daily activities. The activity is characterised by a complexity including, for example, changes in steering documents, the lack of an accentuated pedagogy, and a changing profession. The staff is responsible for a growing multicultural generation—with expectations from parents, children, and colleagues in other activities inside and outside school—and is expected to handle a business with many stakeholders and overlapping governing documents. This study focuses on LTCs and the physical and mental pressures under which leisure-time pedagogues (LTTs) operate. International and national research on LTCs is sparse, particularly in relation to didactics and practices. This study is inspired by school concepts about the border “between decisions about objectives and content in education and the methods of realising these goals” (Lindensjö & Lundgren, 2000, p. 171). The gap between formulation and realisation should be seen as a transformation process, as different actors at different levels interpret the documents in varying ways. A sharp criticism of LTCs stems from how learning objectives are met, analysed, and developed to meet the tasks (Skolinspektionen, 2010). As a result, a new modified curricula that included a chapter directed especially to the LTC was introduced in 2016. The chapter (Skolverket, 2016) emphasizes that the LTC is dedicated to education and that it offers meaningful leisure. This implies that the LTCs, at least in the formulation arena, have become a vital part of the educational system (see SFS 2010:800).
Against this background, this study focuses on LTTs’ perceptions of curriculum implementation and the possible impact of the LTC education practice. In order to achieve the purpose of the study—to explain and analyse how the staff understand and perform their learning assignments in practice—two sides of the didactic curriculum triangle are studied based on the following research questions:
1) What values and data are emphasized by teachers at the LTC, and what relationships—if any—exist between these and the current steering documents? 2) Do the staff use specific strategies to realise the intentions of the steering documents, and if so, which strategies do they use?
In this study, we use two theoretical frameworks: a curriculum didactic theory and an organizational theory about cross-pressure. The curriculum perspective concerns the content of subjects—that is, what the child should learn—as the relation to factors such as teaching and childrens´ learning in the LTC. The study is based on the English-language didactic curriculum tradition, in which the education organization takes a prominent position. In this curriculum tradition, the content of the curriculum becomes determinant, and teachers are expected to follow its content (Westbury, 2000). The term “cross-pressure” is part of a theory that deals with the school as an institution and schools as organizations (Berg, 2003). It is in this context that the term “cross-pressure” claims to capture the complexity of the more or less different expectations and interests that constitute the school’s world. Researchers in LTC use the term “triple crossing” (Löfdahl, Saar, & Hjalmarsson, 2011, p. 43) to describe the situation of the staff—namely that they relate to societys´ demands for childcare, complement the school, and provide the children with a safe environment. In addition, development and learning’s correlation with more students, less leisure time, and fewer teachers (Rohlin, 2017) is also stated. Additionally, “divergent notions about what the recreational home is or may be” (p.17) can be added.
In an ontological sense, we assume that the conditions at LTCs are mainly constructed through the LTTs’ designation of what is going on there. Therefore, our epistemological focus is the pedagogues’ understanding of their responsibilities and duties and the circumstances in which they find themselves working. Our interest is in studying whether—and, if so, how—expectations in policy documents and previous research are expressed by LTCs. The current issue is whether the expectations are viable or whether there are alternative arrangements that apply in practice. The empirical data, which are based on observations, individual interviews, group interviews based on vignettes, took place at an LTC with two departments in autumn 2016. A thematic integrative design was chosen in the study for a holistic understanding (Whittemore & Knafl, 2005). Codes of similar content were combined into themes, which were derived from the two research questions (cf. Bryman, 2014). The empirical content was studied methodically, the texts were interpreted systematically, and the data were classified for the purpose of distinguishing patterns. The empirical material was converted into meaning-bearing units, which were condensed into shorter sentences and then abstracted into codes describing the content of the meaning-bearing units. The data processing was conducted as reflective dialogues between the researchers and the texts. The different themes gave rise to subcategories in the result. The results from the group interviews and observations were used as complements to provide meaning and context for the results. Ethical research principles were taken into account in the implementation of the study. Informed consent was obtained; before the study, all persons involved (staff, parents, and children) were given information about the study, our presence, and their right to withdraw from the study. All interviewees agreed to participate in the study.
The purpose of the study is to develop new knowledge about whether—and, if so, how—LTTs interpret and realise the intentions of the steering documents. In this way, the nature and degree of the cross-pressure that LTTs face can be found in the steering documents, and the realisation of their content can be identified and illustrated. The study provides an analysis of the practical curriculum implementation in relation to both the curriculum and the school law, as the activities of the Swedish LTC are now included. However, the activity in LTC is also characterised as a complex special position in relation to other school activities, which allowed the LTCs´ activities to be criticized for their lack of target fulfilment relative to the content of the steering documents. However, the pronounced criticism (Skolinspektionen, 2010) appears disproportionate because it does not fall into any reference frames within the LTCs´ didactics field. The present text aims to contribute, where possible, to this relatively unexplored field (Falkner & Ludvigsson, 2016). The analysis of LTTs’ perceptions of the curriculum implementation in the LTCs can show the complexity of unequal expectations (Rohlin, 2017), interests, and cross-pressure (Berg 2003) experienced by the LTTs. The complexity that results from the requirements and expectations of the combined cross-pressure mean that the daily work of the LTTs is complicated in terms of the tasks and focus of the business (cf. Löfdahl et al., 2011). The LTTs’ own professionalism regarding ambitions, will, occupational vision, knowledge building, and common sense will determine the ability to fulfil their duties.do this. The curriculum implementation is formally used to create stability, order, and remedy, but if there is complexity in the everyday business, this will force professional-based priorities of values and strategies. These values and strategies are expected to be the outcomes of this study.
Berg, G. (2003). Upptäck och erövra frirummet- skolutveckling ett eget ansvar. [Discover and conquer free-room school development, own responsibility]. In G. Berg & H-Å. Scherp (Eds.), Skolutvecklingens många ansikten [The many faces of school development] (pp. 65–96). Forskning i fokus, nr 15. Stockholm: Liber. Bryman, A. (2014). Samhällsvetenskapliga metoder. [Social science methods]. Stockholm, Liber. Falkner, C., & Ludvigsson, A. (2016). Fritidshem och fritidspedagogik – en forskningsöversikt [Leisure-time-centres and leisure education – a research overview]. Forskning i korthet [Research in brief], nr 1 2016. Malmö: Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting och Kommunförbundet Skåne. Lindensjö, B., & Lundgren, U. P. (2000). Utbildningsreformer och politisk styrning. [Educational reforms and political governance]. Stockholm: HLS förlag. Löfdahl, A., Saar, T., & Hjalmarsson, M. (2011). Fritidshemmets potentiella didaktik och barns och pedagogers gemensamma kunskapsmöjligheter. [The potential didactics of the leisure-time centres and the common knowledge opportunities of children and teachers]. In A. Klerfeldt & B. Haglund (Eds.). Fritidspedagogik – fritidshemmens teorier och praktiker. [Leisure-time education – The theories and practitioners of the leisure-time centres] (pp. 43-60). Stockholm: Liber. Rohlin, M. (2012). Fritidshemmets historiska dilemma. En nutidshistoria om konstruktionen av fritidshemmet i samordning med skolan. [The historic dilemma of the leisure-time centres. A contemporary story about the construction of the leisure-time centre in coordination with the school]. Stockholm: Stockholm universitets förlag. Rohlin, M (2017). Teori som praktik i fritidshemmet. [Theory as practice in leisure-time centres]. Malmö: Gleerups. Skolinspektionen (2010). Kvalitet i fritidshem. Kvalitetsgranskning. [Quality in the recreation centre. Quality review]. Rapport 2010:3, Stockholm Skollag (SFS 2010:800). The Education Act. Skolverket. (2016). Läroplan för grundskolan, förskoleklass och fritidshemmet [Curriculum for elementary school, preschool class and leisure-time center] (Rev. ed.). Stockholm,: Fritzes. Westbury, I. (2000). Teaching as a reflective practice: What might didactic teach curriculum? In I. Westbury, S. Hoppmann, & K. Riquarts (Eds.). Teaching as a reflective practice. The German didactic tradition (pp. 15–39). New York, NY: Routledge. Whittemore, R., & Knafl, K. (2005). The integrative review: Updated methodology. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 52(i), 246–253.
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