23 SES 04 C, Education and Inclusion
Educational changes appear and materialize somewhat simultaneously around the globe (Steiner Khamsi, 2014). Conceptions of “competency-based curriculum” and “21st century skills” represent what we might call “global educational semantics” or “traveling policies”. These policy ideas aim to include children in productive learner trajectories in school, as well as in future society and working life. In different forms and by different means, these ideas are translated in to educational policy initiatives in supranational (e.g. EU, OECD and UN), national and local contexts. This is also the case for Norway, where an ongoing incremental education policy reform (Baek et al. 2017) aims to enhance the quality in schools to ensure that more students are included in more productive learner trajectories. In a previous study, we found that in the description of preferred learner identities, this reform draws on the abovementioned global educational semantics as well as more traditional Norwegian discourses of Bildung, social democracy and progressive pedagogy (Hilt et al. 2018).
In the study that this paper reports from, we expand our previous analyses and ask; “What inclusion/exclusion mechanisms are activated in the description of preferred learner identities and trajectories in the 2020 educational reform in Norway?”. In the analysis, we combine perspectives and concepts from Luhmanns systems theory, especially his concepts of inclusion and exclusion, and Foucault’s theory of self-technologies and “including exclusions”.
According to Luhmann (1997), we now live in a world society that is totally differentiated into social systems with different functions, such as education, politics, law and economy. Function systems can be seen as global semantics or contexts of coded communication, each with its own requirements for inclusion. Consequently, systems theory views inclusion and exclusion mechanisms as system specific communication processes. According to systems theory, the educational system is a global system that reproduces specialised communication about education and therefore includes and excludes everything and everyone that can be observed either as respectively educable or non-educable. Further, the educational system has a special role when it comes to inclusion, as it enables inclusion into other systems of society by making human beings into persons (Luhmann, 2006). The rules of inclusion are further actualised through expectations towards roles such as teachers and students (Luhmann and Schorr, 2000: 36).
In Foucault’s (1991) perspective, this process is disciplining. It aims at producing particular kinds of persons that are best suited to fulfil the purpose of governments, and therefore desirable to society. The educational system potentially welcomes everyone in the roles as students. Still, the system also construct internal differentiations through descriptions of categories of learner identities and trajectories. Such descriptions aim to include learners in what is considered productive, expected, preferred and normalized learner identities and trajectories. As these descriptions of inclusion also produce distinctions between preferred and non-preferred learner identities and trajectories, they function as “including exclusions”. Hence, categories and distinctions order and differentiate persons, a process of power that is not essential or natural, but rather contingent and functional.
As all systems include and exclude according to their own purposes, the analysis of the reform identify possible inclusion and exclusion mechanisms the reform might evoke through the description of expectations and requirements for students, preferred learner identities and learner trajectories.
Building on our previous work (Hilt et al. 2018), we have conducted a semantical analysis of the most significant policy reform documents: •Official Norwegian Report (2015:8) "The School of the Future. Renewal of subjects and competences" •White Paper (number 28, 2015-2016) "Subjects – In-depth learning – Understanding. A renewal of the Knowledge Promotion Reform" •White Paper (number 21, 2016-2017) "Eager to learn. Early intervention and quality in Schools" According to Luhmannn (1995), systems observe the world according to their own logic, and produce semantics, that is stabilised supplies of concepts, ideas, and symbols. A semantical analysis thus implies analysing a system’s reservoir of forms and concepts. The policy documents are seen as political semantics (Luhmann, 2000) about the educational system. To capture the complexity of these semantics we organise our analysis as first- and second order analyses, which can be conceptualised as respectively re-constructing and re-describing semantics (Luhmann 2006). In the first order analysis, we reconstruct the political semantics and highlight how the documents explicitly describe inclusion and exclusion processes in education by focusing on: 1. Inclusion (explicit): descriptions of inclusion processes: positive learning trajectories and measures to include students. 2. Exclusion (explicit): descriptions of those who are outside the learning trajectories, excluded or marginalized. As the first order analysis is embedded in one way of observing, without awareness of its own contingency (Hilt, 2015), we also conduct a second order analysis. Here we re-describe the semantics, by combining Luhmann with conceptions of identity and self-technologies inspired by Foucault (1991; 2008). A second order analysis, allows us to include contingency in meaning and the possibility of reflecting it conceptually (Hilt, 2015). This makes it possible to go beyond the political understanding of inclusion and exclusion, and identify inclusion and exclusion mechanisms that are more implicit in the documents. In this phase, we operationalise inclusion and exclusion as requirements and expectations for participation (Luhmann, 2002; Hilt, 2017) through three steps: 1. Inclusion (implicit): Requirements and expectations: what learners should know, do, feel, learn, and perform. Identification of accessible subject positions for learners. Subject positions are culturally, historically and socially constructed and situated identity resources (Søreide, 2007; 2016; Weedon, 1997). 2. Exclusion (implicit): Blind spots: requirements, expectations, traits, abilities, skills and competences that are not mentioned or recognized (excluded subject positions) 3. “Including exclusion”: Deviances, differentiations and hierarchical positioning of different types of subject positions.
The paper explicates how educational policy, drawing on conceptions of “competency-based curriculum” and “21st century skills”, constitute preferred learner identities and simultaneously, through the description of a series of preferred learner trajectories, constitute learner identities that are considered as negative or undesired. Across the globe, variations of these educational ideas are incorporated in policies, curriculum and assessment systems, with inclusion and educational opportunities for more students as one main objective. However, by critically examining these notions from the perspective of Luhmann and Foucault, the paper illuminates the paradoxical nature of such inclusive efforts. Although inclusion certainly seems to be the goal, these policies also constructs and produces exclusions and deviances through its accentuations and recommendations. Our combination of analytical perspectives and concepts are in other words fruitful, although novel and not widely used in analyses of policy documents. Apart from the more empirical findings, our paper also contributes to the development of analytical approaches within policy research and social inclusion. Furthermore, the paper shows how the learner identity presupposed and preferred by the policy is rather narrowing and universalizing. As the paper discusses how local contexts mediate globally widespread educational ideas when they cross national boundaries in a process of borrowing or translation (Waldow 2009), it can be that argued the mechanisms identified in a Norwegian context can be relevant to other educational systems drawing on the same ideas. To understand national educational policy initiatives as both globalised and localised educational semantics, makes it possible to grasp the nature of inclusion and exclusion mechanisms in a new way. Conclusively, the paper will also discuss how inclusion and exclusion mechanisms in education should be understood in the context of global educational semantics, and not solely as structures that are country specific and/or related to specific national policy agendas.
Baek, C., Hôrmann, B., Karseth, B., Pizmony-Levi, O, Sivesind, K. and Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2017) Policy learning in Norwegian school reform: a social network analysis ogf the 2020 incremental reform. Nordic journal og Studies in Educational Policy. DOI: 10.1080/20020317.2017.1412747 Foucault, M. (1991) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. London: Penguin Books. Foucault, M. (2008) The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978-1979. New York: Picador. Hilt, L., Riese, H. and Søreide, G.E. (2018, in review) Narrow identity resources for future learners: 21st century skills encounters the Norwegian educational context. Curriculum Studies in Education Hilt, L. (2016) ‘They don´t know what it means to be a student’: inclusion and exclusion in the nexus between ‘global’ and ‘local’. Policy Futures in Education DOI: 10.1177/1478210316645015, 14 (6), 1-21 Hilt, L. (2015) Included as excluded and excluded as included: minority language pupils in Norwegian inclusion policy. International Journal of Inclusive Education 19 (2), 165-182 Luhmann, N. (1995) Social Systems. Translated by J Bednarz Jr. with D. Baecker. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Luhmann, N. (1997) Globalization or world society: How to conceive of modern society? International Review of Sociology 7, 67-79 Luhmann, N. (2000). Die Politik der Gesellschaft [The Political System of the Society]. Frankfurt am main: Suhrkamp Luhmann N (2002) Inklusion og eksklusion [Inclusion and Exclusion] Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory 4, 121-139 Luhmann N (2006) Samfundets uddannelsessystem [The System of Education]. København: Hans Reitzels forlag Luhmann, N., and K. Schorr. (2000) Problems of Reflection in the System of Education. Translated by R. Neuwirth. New York: Waxmann. Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2014) Cross-national policy borrowing: understanding reception and translation, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 34 (2), 153-167. Søreide, G. (2007) The public face of teacher identity: Narrative construction of teacher identity in public policy documents. Journal of Education Policy. 22 (2), 129-46 Søreide, G. (2016) High-skilled newcomers’ identity: Learners or experts? Journal of Workplace Learning 28 (1), 2-16 Waldow, F. (2009) Undeclared imports: silent borrowing in educational policy-making and research in Sweden. Comparative Education 45 (4), 477-494 Weedon, C. (1997) Feminist practice and poststructuralist theory. Malden: Blackwell.
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