19 SES 04 A, SPACE: School Space Uses and Discourses
This paper presents the findings of an ethnographic study where the aim was to observe how language policies shape the material and social spaces of education in Finland and in Sweden. Swedish is due to historical reasons the second national language in Finland, whereas Finnish only in the beginning of the millennium gained the status of an official minority language in Sweden. In Finland, the legislation requires education to be organised separately in both national languages. Accordingly, a typical discourse related to maintenance of Swedish in Finland emphasizes the significance of a monolingual school space both in physical and symbolic terms. Spatial separation has been a strong premise while discussing the education for the Swedish-speaking children in Finland. Currently, there are approximately 35–45 monolingual Finnish- and Swedish-medium schools co-located in the same school buildings, functioning as separate units. However, even this kind of a co-operation has often in the public been considered as a threat for the future of Swedish language in Finland. In Sweden, by contrast, the legislation provides the children with a Finnish background, among other national minorities, the right to use and develop their language and cultural identity in education. However, only the legislative minimum amount of mother tongue instruction in Finnish is organised within the public school system and the schools providing actual instruction in Finnish function as bilingual independent schools outside the public school system. The position of Finnish in educational spaces is negotiated in the often-conflicting interests of minority language policies and the educational market. The shortcomings in the realization of language rights of national minorities in Sweden have been pointed out by national authorities monitoring the implementation of the policies as well as the Council of Europe. The critique has particularly focused on the insufficient availability of bilingual education and mother tongue instruction – indicating the insufficient spaces for Finnish in the Swedish society and educational systems.
This presentation focuses on the spatial implications of the language policies in question in the everyday lives of the studied schools. In line with McCarty’s (2015) understanding of language policy being made and contested in educational practice, this study makes use of ethnographic methods to shed light on how language policy processes are carried out, negotiated and resisted in the spaces of education. Particular attention is given to how language policies shape the spatial praxis in education, i.e. the process in which the spatial shapes the social and vice versa (cf. Gordon, Holland & Lahelma, 2000). The theoretical framework of this study is informed by critical language policy studies highlighting the role of language planning in creating and sustaining systems of inequality (cf. Tollefson, 2013) as well as spatial theorization developed particularly in the field of cultural geography (cf. Massey, 2005; Arias, 2010), the tradition of school ethnography (cf. Gordon et al. 2000; Rajander, 2010) and linguistic landscape studies (cf. Blommaert, 2013). In line with Spolsky (2004), language policy is in this paper viewed as multi-layered, encompassing all the language practices, language beliefs and language management of a community or polity – as manifesting and being made in the spaces of education. Space is on the one hand understood as material, constraining and enabling action in the form of walls and corridors, and on the other hand socially constructed, political and strategic. Space is seen as constructed through discursive and material practices and continuously reconstructed within the material conditions, institutional practices and social hierarchies of the school (cf. Arias, 2010. Massey, 2005; Gordon et al. 2000).
Ethnographic research on language policy processes is particularly concerned with policy being made and resisted in everyday social practice as well as the power relations through which these processes are constructed (McCarty, 2015). In the methodological approach of this study, particular attention is given to the construction of physical, social and mental space as well as the shaping of spatial praxis. The ethnographic fieldwork of this study was carried out in cross-cultural settings; in one monolingual Swedish- and one Finnish-speaking public primary school co-located in the same building in Finland and in a bilingual Sweden-Finnish independent school in Sweden. Cross-cultural ethnography aims to increase theoretical understanding through the analysis of cultural variation and focuses not only on differences but also on finding similar patterns between different national contexts (Lahelma & Gordon, 2010). The data consist of participatory observations during formal and informal activities (classes, breaks, gatherings, festivities, staff meetings) of the schools during 70 days in the course of one school year, participatory photography and photo elicitation interviews with 35 pupils (aged 10–12 years) as well as 23 individual interviews with the school personnel. The visual data of the project consist of more than 600 photographs taken by the pupils during the photo assignment. The ethnographic data produced through a variety of methods enables multiple analytical perspectives to the manifestation of language policy in school space, also giving voice to the actors of the field negotiating and resisting those policies.
In the data, the school space in a physical and symbolic sense was often by the school staff articulated as a precondition for the survival of a minority language and language policies were seen as crucial in providing spatial autonomy. However, while the monolingual Swedish-speaking school space in Finland is safeguarded through the legislation and language policy, the Finnish-speaking educational spaces in the Swedish society are rare and provided merely in a few independent schools outside the public school system. The children’s photos and interviews narrated everyday life in schools from various perspectives: agency and the lack of it in the school space, spatial practices related to language as well as representations related to linguistic and cultural belonging were brought out in the visual material. The multiple ways in which governance related to language policy was shaping the material and social spaces of the schools were identified throughout the ethnographic data. In the co-located Finnish- and Swedish-speaking schools a monolingual policy was mostly maintained through spatial practices related to material and social space, i.e. architecture, language use in different contexts and separate social activities, but also questioned by the pupils and the school staff. Linguistic governance also took place in the Sweden-Finnish school in Sweden, in subtle ways and as a situated practice, but often connected to different spaces of the school. The value of Finnish language in the Swedish-dominant everyday life was typically promoted through the visibility of Finnish in the linguistic landscape of the school. In the co-located Swedish- and Finnish-speaking schools in Finland, language ideologies were not in the same way present as visual representations but more in the discourses on the strong position of the Swedish language in the Finnish society and educational system.
Arias, S. (2010). Rethinking space: an outsider’s view of the spatial turn. GeoJournal 75:29–41. Blommaert, J. (2013). Ethnography, Superdiversity, and Linguistic Landscapes: Chronicles of Complexity. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. From, T. & Sahlström, F. (2017). Shared places, separate spaces: Constructing cultural spaces through two national languages in Finland. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 61(4), 465-478. Gordon, T., Holland, J. & Lahelma, E. (2000). Making spaces. London: Macmillan. Hadi-Tabassum, S. (2006). Language, space and power: A critical look at bilingual education. Clevedon: Multilingual matters. Massey, D. (2005). For space. London: Sage. McCarty, T.L. (2015). Ethnography in language planning and policy research. In F.M. Hult & D.C. Johnson (Eds.), Research methods in language policy and planning: A practical guide. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Pp. 81–93. Rajander, S. (2010). School and choice: An ethnography of a primary school with bilingual classes. Jyväskylä: FERA. Sahlström, F., From, T. & Slotte-Lüttge, A. (2013). Två skolor och två språk under samma tak. Teoksessa: L. Tainio and H. Harju-Luukkainen (toim.) Kaksikielinen koulu - tulevaisuuden monikielinen Suomi. Tvåspråkig skola - ett flerspråkigt Finland i framtiden. Jyväskylä: Suomen kasvatustieteellinen seura. Pp. 319-340. Shohamy, E. (2006). Language policy: Hidden Agendas and New Approaches. London, New York: Routledge. Spolsky, B. (2004). Language policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tollefson, J. W. (2013). Language policies in the times of crisis and transformation. In: J. W. Tollefson (Eds.) Language policies in education. Critical issues. New York: Routledge. Pp. 11–34.
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
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.