10 SES 14 E, Being Uncomfortable and Embodied Learning
Different issues are considered controversial and sensitive in different contexts and times, and what teachers experience as uncomfortable to address in education will differ from one individual teacher to another. However, certain issues seem currently to be considered controversial and sensitive in the Norwegian educational context, such as extremist political views and hate speech towards religious, ethnic and sexual minority groups.
Recent research has indicated that teachers in Norwegian schools find it uncomfortable and difficult to address certain issues such as anti-Semitism (Thomas, 2016), immigration, (Eriksen, 2013), racism (Svendsen, 2014), prejudice and hate speach (Røthing, 2017), homosexuality (Røthing, 2008) and religious disagreements (Iversen, 2012). The terror attack in Oslo and on the island Utøya, July 22th 2011, where in total 77 people got killed by a white male Norwegian with extremist right winged political views, seems in particular to be an issue that make teachers uncomfortable and puzzled (Anker & von der Lippe, 2015; Røthing, 2017). Research indicates that many teachers are unsure of how to approach such issues in their own teaching and that they are worried it might cause uncontrollable situations if they address them in class. If they do not know how the students will react, and if they do not feel prepared and competent to handle unpredictable reactions in their classrooms, many seem to be inclined to avoid controversial and sensitive issues.
This paper starts out by giving an overview of research on how teachers feel about controversial and sensitive issues in education: What do they find controversial, sensitive and uncomfortable and why? How do they deal with such issues, and what do they do if they find themselves in uncomfortable situations in the classroom? Secondly, this paper presents and discuss findings from an ongoing research project that investigates what Norwegian teacher educators find challenging and uncomfortable in their own teaching, and what their teacher students report that they find challenging and difficult to address when doing their teacher training.
The project is based on focus group interviews with teacher educators within three different subjects, from seven Universities and University Colleges from different parts of Norway. The interviews are conducted from November 2016 until November 2017.
Biesta (2013) argues that real education always involves a risk. In this paper I am asking how teacher educators prepare future teachers for “the beautiful risk of education” (Biesta, 2013). Which issues do teacher educators consider challenging and “risky”? Do the teacher educators’ perceptions of challenging and uncomfortable issues correspond with what teachers seem to find challenging and uncomfortable? What kind of theoretical perspectives do teacher educators draw on when they address controversial issues in teacher education? I am particularly concerned with whether and how they apply various critical perspectives that may prepare teachers for addressing issues of power relations and privileges as part of their mandate to educate justice oriented students and citizens (Westheimer & Kahne, 2004).
Anker, T. & von der Lippe, M. (2015). Når terror ties i hjel - En diskusjon om 22. juli og demokratisk medborgerskap i skolen. Norsk Pedagogisk tidsskrift, 99 (2), s. 85-96. Biesta, G. J. J. (2013). The Beautiful Risk of Education. New York: Routledge. Eriksen, I. M. (2013). Young Norwegians. Belonging and becoming in a multiethnic high school. Dissertation for the degree of PhD. University of Oslo, Faculty of Humanities. Iversen, L. L. (2012). Learning to be a Norwegian: A case study of identity management in religious education in Norway. Münster: Waxmann. Røthing, Å. (2008). Homotolerance and heteronormativity in Norwegian classrooms. Gender and Education 20, s. 253 - 266. Røthing, Å. (2017). Mangfoldskompetanse. Perspektiver på undervisning i yrkesfag [Diversity competense. Perspectives on teaching in vocational education]. Oslo: Cappelen Damm akademisk. Svendsen, S. H. (2014). Learning racism in the absence of ‘race’. European Journal of Women's Studies, 21, 9-24. Thomas, P. (2016). Exploring Anti-Semitism in the Classroom: A Case Study Among Norwegian Adolescents from Minority Backgrounds, Journal of Jewish Education, 82(3), 182-207. Westheimer, J. & Kahne, J. (2004). What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy. American Educational Research Journal, 41(2), s. 237–269
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