28 SES 12 B, The Place of Students in Education Policies
Not all students succeed in getting an upper secondary education. It is a major problem in Denmark as well as in other European countries that 10-20 percent of all youngsters never get started in or drop out of upper secondary schools. In this study, we address the educational and personal experiences of students in a transition phase form primary to secondary school attend an Efterskole. There are 248 Efterskoler in Denmark, and in 2017 there where more than 28.000 students attending these schools. The students who choose to attend an Efterskole increase their chances of completing an upper secondary education with 10 percent (Bjerre 2017). Attending an Efterskole is popular among a wide spectrum of students with different socioeconomic backgrounds and educational results. The question is, however, how the schools design both formal and informal learning environments which can give the students an advantage in their educational paths, and how the students and teachers in the Efterskole experience these learning environments and the connections between them? It is often said, that the special strength of the Efterskole is the ability to help youngsters develop their social skills, identity and personal maturity (so-called Bildung) in informal learning settings, whereas the formal learning settings often are regarded as conventional, typically organised as traditional classroom teaching (Madsen 1995). One of the central points of interest in our research project is thus to what extent and how formal and informal learning environments are bridged at different schools creating engaging learning environments for the students.
In the attempt to address these questions, we see need to reconnect with the more general problem of how to study learning environments and possible educational outcomes - and connections between them. Theoretically, we are inspired by Biestas distinction between qualification, socialization and subjectification (Biesta 2011). Our point is not, however, that the three domains are separated from each other in time and space in the Efterskole (Madsen 1995). On the contrary, we focus on the dynamic between social and educational agendas in both formal and informal settings. Following Biesta’s line of thought, we are interested in how all three domains are present at all times in every type of setting (Biesta 2011). When studying how the processes of qualification, socialization and subjectification happens and make impact on each other in both formal and informal settings in the Efterskole, we use some central concepts from Basil Bernstein. Basil Bernstein has developed concepts and models that describe the transformation of relations of power and control into pedagogical codes (Bernstein 1997; Sadovnik 2001). In particular, we are inspired by Bernstein’s central analytical concepts of classification and framing, but also his more abstract concepts of recontextualization, invisible and visible pedagogy (Bernstein 2000). Using these concepts, the analytic lens is on how organizational structures, social relations and dynamics in the classroom are reflected in certain forms of pedagogy. Main questions are: Who is given voice in different learning environments and situations, what types of messages are legitimate to communicate, and who controls and evaluates what is being said and done. The aim is to identify structures on school level, classroom level and social community level which promotes or hinders students’ participation in both educational and social activities. Thus, the research focus moves focus away from an individualized and individualizing view on students and their learning towards an interest in how the schools’ and teachers’ construction of school culture and the formal and informal learning environments create opportunities for learning on multiple levels. Thereby, we hope to get a deeper understand of the factors contributing to the students’ personal and educational development at the Efterskole.
The Efterskole are self-governing independent private schools which have in common that they embrace educational focus on enlightenment for life, general education and democratic citizenship. Despite these similarities the schools have different individual profiles building on different pedagogical ideas and concepts. A first central methodological consideration is thus how to select and get access to relevant and interesting cases (Flyvbjerg 2006) representing both the general characteristics of the Efterskole and the variety in content and organisational forms. In our multi-method in-depth study we focus on six Efterskoler in Denmark that are systematically selected to represent the diversity. The chosen schools are located in different parts of Denmark, have different profiles such as gymnastics, music and role playing and have students with different backgrounds, needs, ambitions and interests. The fieldwork at the six schools are conducted by a team of seven researcher working in pairs at each school. Overall, the field work is organised with two visits at each school within the same school year. Each visit takes place over a period of three days. Drawing on theoretical traditions in anthropology and sociology (ethnomethodology and micro-sociology), we focus on the micro-interactions of the students' everyday life with teachers and peers. In order to achieve a high degree of comparability between the empirical material produced at the six schools, we have committed each across the research teams to a relatively high structured research design. The main idea is to follow four students at each school - two boys and two girls - representing the variety in the group of students. On the first two days of the fieldwork, we stick close to each of the four students and follow their activities in and movements between both formal and informal settings: common gatherings, meals, classroom teaching, "profile subjects" (e.g. sports, music, out doors) and leisure time activities. These activities and movements are documented by writing ethnographic fieldnotes (Emerson, Rachel & Shaw 2011) and video recordings of selected subjects. And the end of the second day, the four students are interviewed using a semi-structured interview-guide focusing on both social and educational themes. The four individual interviews are supplemented by a focus group interview with six other students focusing on the significance of being an Efterskole-student. In order to capture, the pedagogical intentions behind both the overall organisation of the school and the classroom activities, we also interview the headmaster and selected teachers.
We have just finished our first period of fieldwork and are in the process of planning the second visits at the schools, transcribing interviews and systematising our empirical material from our first visits. For a first glance, it is striking how different the six schools are, and how the pedagogical profiles of the schools - matching and attracting both teachers with different competencies and different groups of students - form different learning environments, school cultures and norms for participation. When we take a closer look, however, we also see common patterns of interaction produced by similarities in structures on both macro- and micro level. One of our preliminary findings is, that teachers and students often interact in traditional ways in classroom settings, even though the students in interviews express an experience of a closer relationship to their teachers at the Efterskole than they are used to. The school structures at the Efterskole seem to position the teacher and students in specific power structures which especially in the classroom setting can counteract the intentions of the democratic and Bildung orientated approach that the schools wish to have. Another central finding is a tendency to establish a strong classification (Bernstein 2000) between the content of the traditional school subject and the special profile subjects (e.g. sports or music). Even though some schools and teachers have found models for bridging the gap between traditional subject teaching and the more interest based activities creating more engaging learning environments there seems to be opportunities for creating even more coherent school cultures and learning processes. There might not be one specific design or model for the best learning outcome at classroom level, but rather different ways that the teachers can develop and utilize democratic participation in relation to different didactic goals.
Bjerre, Moos & Lange (2017): Effekt- og profilanalyse. Efterskoleforeningen 2017 https://www.efterskoleforeningen.dk/-/media/Efterskoleforeningen/Omos/undersoegelseogstatistik/Rapport-Efterskoleforeningen-2017_08032017-endelig.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20180130T2107330567 (30. jan 2018) Bernstein, B. (1977). On the classification and framing of educational knowledge, in: B. Bernstein Class, Codes and Control. Vol. 3. Towards a Theory of Educational Transmissions (Routledge & Kegan Paul. London, Boston and Henley). Bernstein, B. (2000a). Pedagogising knowledge: Studies in Recontextualising, in: B. Bernstein Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity (Rowman & Littlefield publishers, inc. Boston). Bernstein, B. (2000b). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity (Rowman & Littlefield publishers, inc. Boston). Bernstein, B. (1990). Social class and pedagogic practice, in: B. Bernstein The Structuring of Pedagogic Discourse. Vol. IV. Class, codes and control (Routledge. London and New York). Chouliaraki, L. (2001). Pædagogikkens sociale logik - en introduktion til Basil Bernsteins uddannelsessociologi, in Chouliaraki, L. & M. Bayer (Eds.) Basil Bernstein. Pædagogik, diskurs og magt (Akademisk Forlag, Viborg). Dewey, J. (1938). Experience & Education (West Lafayette, Ind.: Kappa Delta Pi). Davies, Bronwyn & Rom Harré (1990). Positioning: The Discursive Production of Selves. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour. 20(1), 43-63 Emerson, R., Rachel, F.I. & Shaw, L.L. (2011). Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Flyvbjerg (2006). "Five Misunderstandings about Case-Study Research". In Qualitative Inquiry 12(2), pp. 219-245. Madsen, U.A. (1995). Hverdagsliv og læring i efterskolen. Foreningen af Frie Ungdoms- og Efterskolers Forlag. Hattie, J. (2013). "What is the nature of evidence that makes a difference to learning?" In, Form@re. Open Journal per la formazione in rete. Nr. 2, Vol. 13, 2013, pp 6-21 Hiim, H. & E. Hippe (1997). Læring gennem oplevelse, forståelse og handling. En studiebog i didaktik Gyldendal, København Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning. Legitimate peripheral participation (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press).
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