07 SES 04 C, Analysing and Shaping Educational Discourses
One characteristic of renowned Finnish education system is that after comprehensive school, educational routes of young people divide into the dual system of vocational education and general (academic) upper secondary education. Young people regarded as having special educational needs or immigrant backgrounds continue their studies more often in vocational schools instead of general upper secondary education, where sustained pedagogical support practices are not established as in vocational schools. A stereotyped assumption that general upper secondary studies would be suitable only for students with high academic orientation, and whose mother tongue is one of the Finland’s official languages has recently been challenged by the fact that the students come from very diverse backgrounds and their resources and needs of support significantly vary. Moreover, questions around Finnish language proficiency have created new kinds of needs for restructuring pedagogical practices. Yet the Act on general upper secondary education do not oblige schools to arrange support practices nor are general upper secondary schools provided with the same resources of pedagogical support than the vocational upper secondary schools.
In our presentation, we focus on the discourses of pedagogical support and guidance in general upper secondary education by asking: how is pedagogical support and guidance discussed and rationalised in the context of general upper secondary education? The presentation is based on the research project Employability, education and diversities (Academy of Finland) which focuses on educational practices, transitions and societal inclusion of young people in constantly changing European education policy and labour market context. By utilizing multi-sited ethnographic methodology, we investigate both the educational practices and students’ and teachers’ narratives at schools and analyse young people’s positions, agency and given support practices. Our theoretical approach is multidisciplinary meaning that we draw on the concepts developed within sociology of education, youth studies and disability studies. We discuss with the theoretical ideas concerning societal inclusion and educational in/equality.
Methodologically, the study is multi-sited ethnographic research, contextualized in education policy (see Lahelma, Lappalainen, Mietola & Palmu 2014; Troman, Jeffrey & Beach 2006; Marcus 1995). This means that in addition to our interest to analyse what happens in the everyday and how people make sense of it, we also consider ethnographic field as plural and more unlimited concept and the analysis stretches out from particular institutions towards current European education policy discourses. During the spring semester 2017, we conducted ethnographic fieldwork in two institutes of upper secondary education (general and vocational) in Helsinki metropolitan area. We spent approximately 80 days at schools. In general upper secondary school, the focus was especially on preparatory education for immigrant students, Finnish as a second language studies and on the practices of special needs education and study counselling. We followed the studies of various classes, participated in different meetings and conducted interviews altogether with 47 students and teachers. We utilize ethnographic and discursive analysis methods meaning that the focus of analysis is in searching the ways by which meanings and practices are constructed and maintained in education. The emphasis of the analysis is upon the ways in which certain discourses of education set limits to what can be said and considered as relevant knowledge (Bacchi 2000). Drawing on the analysis based on our interview and observation data as well as education policy documents, we discuss our initial results concerning discourses of pedagogical support and guidance in general upper secondary education.
In spite of the well-known objectives of educational equality in the Nordic countries, sociological research has pointed out that social dimensions, such as migrant and socioeconomic backgrounds, disability and gender are still related to positionings of young people in upper secondary education and later in the labour market (see Lappalainen & Lahelma 2016; Gudmundsson, Beach & Vestel 2013). Previous studies also show that even though different support practices – such as special education services – may enhance students’ participation and belonging at school, they can also stigmatise students and lead to a marginal position. Therefore, in order to develop education systems in line with inclusive objectives, the barriers of belonging and participation in school communities should be constantly dismantled. (e.g. Niemi & Mietola 2017.) At the moment, Finnish upper secondary education is going through a big reorganization process. This study aims at producing fresh findings from the field and contributing to current academic and societal discussion about organizing pedagogical support and guidance in socially just and inclusive ways.
Bacchi, C. (2000). Policy as Discourse: what does it mean? where does it get us? Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, 21(1), 45–57. Gudmundsson, Gestur, Beach, Dennis & Vestel, Viggo. 2013. Youth and marginalisation. Young people from immigrant families in Scandinavia. London: the Tufnell Press. Lahelma, E., Lappalainen, S., Mietola, R. & Palmu, T. 2014. Discussions That ‘Tickle Our Brains’: Constructing Interpretations through Multiple Ethnographic Data-sets. Ethnography & Education 9 (1), 51–65. Lappalainen, S. & Lahelma, E. (2016) Subtle discourses on equality in the Finnish curricula of upper secondary education: reflections of the imagined society. Journal of Curriculum Studies 48 (5), 650-670 Marcus, G. 1995. Ethnography in/of the World System. The Emergence of Multi-sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24, 95–117. Niemi, A.-M. & Mietola, R. 2017. Between hopes and possibilities. (Special) educational paths, agency and subjectivities. Scandinavian journal of disability research. 19 (3), 218-229. Troman, G., Jeffrey, B. & Beach, D. 2006. Researching Education Policy. Ethnographic Experiences. Tufnell Press: London.
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
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