10 SES 14 D, Research on Professional Knowledge & Identity in Teacher Education: Difference and disability
Teacher education is becoming increasingly important in contemporary discussions of inclusive school reform throughout Europe. A focus of debate is convincing teacher training students who are not trained in special needs education of the need for inclusive policies. Research has tended to focus on using questionnaires to measure students’ beliefs about inclusion and – against that background – on the question of how they can gain the skills they will require to teach in inclusive schools. Most German teacher training studentsagree with the core tenets of inclusive school development in principle, but in the case of their own classes they would prefer not to teach students with special needs. This friction tends to be explained with reference to their lack of skills in inclusive teaching and learning (Moser et al. 2014, Schwab/Seifert 2015).
In our qualitative research based on group discussions we take a closer look at trainee teachers’ orientation towards inclusion and the representations of disability implicit in them. We have observed tensions and frictions between trainee agreement with the normative framework of inclusion on the one hand, and discriminatory constructions of pupils with special needs and well established social constructions of dis/ability on the other hand. Regardless of whether they disagree or agree with inclusion, [we found that] teacher training students (re-)produce stereotyped views on differences and inequality. In understanding their orientations towards disability, abilities to learn and the social order of the classroom, we aim to analyse barriers and resistance to an inclusive classroom.
We understand differences as differentiations generated in practices and discourse. This contrasts with dominant paradigms of research into inclusive education that consider differences as definable characteristics of individuals and are interested in how teachers can adequately react to students with needs that differ from those of the norm, so-called 'special needs'. Working with theories of difference and normality, a part of them from disability studies, we propose a heuristic for analysing empirical material.
Firstly we work with the social theory of un/doing differences (Hirschauer 2014; Hirschauer & Boll 1997) in the context of social and functional differentiation as a characteristic of modern societies (Luhmann). Hirschauer points out that social differences such as gender, class, race and dis/ability can or cannot be made relevant for social order. He stresses that the reference (or not) to a specific difference can be understood as a temporal order. Thus one main question in our research is what the function is of referring to differences as important (or not). Secondly, we refer to Foucault’s understanding of normalisation, which is used by Link (1997) and Waldschmidt et al. (Waldschmidt 2007a, 2007b, 2009). Against the background of the emergence of statistical reasoning and the significance of the average in the transition to the modern world, Link differentiates between a “proto order” and a “flexibilised order” of the normal. Thus contemporary inclusion debates and reforms can be interpreted as strategies of flexibilisation of the normal. One main question in our research is therefore whether and how boundaries between the un/normal are constructed, reasoned and de/stabilized.
We used qualitative research methodology to explore these questions about social constructions of difference and of the “normal” in the context of debates about inclusive school reform. Our data comprised group discussions with teacher training students in Germany: The first sample of 15 group discussions involved a total of 60 participants who were nearing the end of their degree in secondary school teaching. This data was collected in 2015 – in advance of a reform of teacher education. In 2015, despite the fact that school laws in the different parts of Germany had already been adapted to the internationally accepted norms of inclusive education, the Framework Act of Higher Education concerning teacher education training in Germany had just been modified. For this reason the students in the first sample had not had any specific training about inclusive school reform. The second sample was collected in 2017, when implementation of the reform of teacher education has already started. In this sample we conducted 6 group discussions with 30 students, who were midway through their teacher training course. The students of the second sample had been taught about inclusive school reform, dealing with inequality and diversity. As part of their practical placements within their courses, some of them had been in inclusive classes and observed different kinds of inclusive classroom management and methods of internal differentiation. We used the documentary method (Bohnsack 2010) to interpret the data and analyse the conjunctive spaces of experience of these students, including a comparison between the two samples. Our analysis paid particular attention to focusing metaphors that reveal constructions of normality and reconstruct their dependency on metaphors of disability.
This research contributes a better understanding of the frictions and tensions associated with attempts to implement inclusion reform while at the same time key actors – teacher training students - are actively constructing difference, for example disability, and contributing to social order and inequality. We found many different orientations when analysing our data, but these differences between the two samples of group discussions relate to neither the basic assumptions of inclusion nor the basic assumptions of differences and normality (in and outside of school). In both samples we found constructions that are simultaneously porous and based on stereotypes. These results must be interpreted in the context of Germany’s strong tradition of differentiation within the school system and physically separating defined pupil groups. We assume that separating general education, i.e. the mainstream school and general pedagogy, from a pedagogy of special needs contributes to the confirmation of stereotyped imaginings of school pupils with special needs as well as the reproduction of difficulties associated with inclusive education. We want to reflect on these findings against the background of expectations concerning the reform of teacher education in Germany and other German-speaking countries. We discuss whether and how the traditional separation of general pedagogy and the pedagogy of special needs education must be overcome within the institutional settings and teacher education as well as in scientific discussions. Finally, we will draw attention to some ideas of how this separation can be overcome, for example, by strengthening teacher training students’ understanding of how they construct normality and contribute to normalisation processes.
Bohnsack, R. (2010). Documentary Method and Group Discussions. In: Bohnsack, R., Pfaff, N., & Weller, V. (Eds.): Qualitative Analysis and Documentary Method in International Education Research. Opladen & Farmington Hills: Barbara Budrich Publishers, Pp. 99-124. Hirschauer, S. (2014). Un/doing Differences. Die Kontingenz sozialer Zugehörigkeiten. Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 43(3), 170–191. Hirschauer, S. & Boll, T. (2017). Un/doing Differences. Zur Theorie und Empirie eines Forschungsprogramms. In: Hirschauer, Stefan (Ed.): Un/doing Differences. Praktiken der Humandifferenzierung. Weilerswist: Velbrück Wissenschaft. Pp 7–26. Link, J. (1997). Versuch über den Normalismus: Wie Normalität produziert wird. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. Moser, V., Kuhl, J., Redlich, H. & Schäfer, L. (2014). Beliefs von Studierenden sonder- und grundschulpädagogischer Studiengänge. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 17(4), 661-678. Schwab, S. & Seifert, S. (2015). Einstellungen von Lehramtsstudierenden und Pädagogikstudierenden zur schulischen Inklusion – Ergebnisse einer quantitativen Untersuchung. Zeitschrift für Bildungsforschung 5 (1), 73-87. Waldschmidt, A., Klein, A. & Tamayo Korte, M. (2007): Das Wissen der Leute. Bioethik, Alltag und Macht im Internet. Wiesbaden: VS. Waldschmidt, A., Klein, A., Tamayo Korte, M. & Dalman-Eken, S. (2007): Diskurs im Alltag – Alltag im Diskurs: Ein Beitrag zu einer empirischen begründeten Methodologie sozialwissenschaftlicher Diskursforschung. In: Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung,. 8(2), Art.15, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0702156. Waldschmidt, A. (2009). „Normalität“ und „Behinderung“ im Alltagswissen – Diskursanalyse eines Internetforums. SWS-Rundschau 49(3), 314-336.
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
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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