02 SES 08 A, Inclusion and Exclusion
Vocational education (VET) provides access to the labour market for young adults reluctant to continue schooling. In many countries, in particular in Anglophone ones, VET is treated as “the poorer cousin” of academic learning (Hager 2007). In Germany, however, approximately half of every age cohort enter the “dual system” of VET. There, obviously, academic and vocational learning are equally valued. The name “dual system” implies two sites of transmission, the training company and the VET school (and optional other sites). Wheelahan (2010) points to the obligatory VET school complementing the company training to stress the advantage of the German system as opposed to VET in Anglophone countries where students are, as she says, narrowly prepared for the labour market. Yet the prime learning venue in German VET is the company (see s.2(1) Vocational Training Act). This draws the attention to the social structuring of Germany’s dual system and to the principles underlying and regulating company transmission there.
Research into the social structuring of teaching and learning is scarce. One remarkable exception is Becker (1972). From a symbolic-interactionist perspective, he compares scholastic and unregulated workplace learning by features, such as teachers, pupils and their relationship, curriculum and evaluation, and provides empirical descriptions of ideal types. These, however, are static and cannot generate other than themselves. This presentation, following Wheelahan (2010), chooses a Bernsteinian framework for analysis. Although Bernstein developed his concepts predominantly from research in schools, the systematic and rule-directed development of “second languages of description” (see methodology) avoids forcing them on other contexts.
Essential in Bernstein’s theoretical language are the conceptual instruments “classification” and “framing”. Briefly, “classification”, the spatial concept, denotes boundaries, which are generated by power relations determining what is to be kept apart/put together. Classifications shape, yet not determine interaction within, i.e., “framing” and its discursive and hierarchical rules. Both concepts can take values of different strength, and, thus, can generate a range of modalities. Even the theoretical construction of new modalities becomes possible. A function of the two is the “code”, to which Bernstein ascribed children’s differential school success. A code positions learners to knowledge and within a community of knowers. Context-specific code realisations are regulated, in a non-determinative way, by an underlying pedagogic discourse. In unregulated company learning, the pedagogic discourse remains a matter of negotiations between transmitter and acquirer (cf. Höhns 2017). In German regulated company learning, an official pedagogic discourse establishes boundaries for legitimate transmission (cf. Höhns 2016).
Like Becker (1972), Moore (1984) argues that in schools, teachers and pupils are strongly classified categories. With “classification” and “framing” as conceptual instruments, he theoretically drafts a type of transmission oppositional to that in schools, which “signifies a fundamental change in the principle regulating who can be a transmitter and what counts as a valid transmission. It marks a shift from a principle of exclusion in which strictly defined categories are kept apart [i.e., classified] and hierarchically ordered, to a principle of inclusion in which categories (both of knowledge and agents) can be mixed (according to a different principle).” (op.cit., p. 406). The oppositional transmission process would not be controlled by teachers, but by agents from the community. This raises the question of transmitter-acquirer-relations in the prime transmission site of the “dual system”, the company, and of the regulative principle behind them.
- briefly explains Bernstein’s “official pedagogic discourse” underlying and regulating company transmission in Germany’s dual system, and its assumptions about trainers and trainees/apprentices (cf. Höhns 2016)
- analyses trainer-apprentice-relations in German regulated company transmission
- argues that, with theoretical plausibility, German regulated company transmission is guided by a principle of inclusion and discusses its coverage.
The analysis draws on 30 problem-centered interviews (PCIs) (Witzel, 1982, 2000; Witzel & Reiter, 2012) with graduates from the German dual system about their training experiences. Problem-centering means that the interview focuses on the objective pre-conditions of the respondent's actions and orientations, which have to be theoretically conceptualised in advance. Here, the elements of Bernstein’s concept ‘framing’ served as theoretical conception and were reformulated into everyday language questions. Further questions elicited narratives about crucial moments during training. Respondents had acquired different kinds of occupations, such as cook, bank clerk, veterinary assistant, and many others, in differently organised companies, but all with part-time learning as trainee/apprentice in a company and part-time learning in a VET school. Following principles of Bernsteinian research (e.g., Moss 2001, Morais & Neves 2010), a team of researchers developed a second, external ‘language of description’ (the first being the language of the theory) to recognise different framing modalities in the coded interviews as data. According to Bernstein’s “recognition rule” for framing, the transmitter is always in control over the pedagogic practice, and acquirers’ control is only apparent (Bernstein, e.g. 1990). Guided by this rule, prior research developed second languages to investigate pedagogic practice in schools and families (e.g., Gamble 2004; Hoadley 2006, see also Morais & Neves, 2010 for a summary). Bernsteinian investigations into German company-based pedagogic practice so far only concerned the specific modalities of discursive rules, i.e. the selection, sequencing, pacing of learning contents and the criteria. Respondents’ claims of having actively taken control over the discursive rules run counter Bernstein’s “recognition rule”. Nevertheless they were considered real and legitimate because they could be traced back to the underlying pedagogic discourse (Höhns 2017). These discursive rules, together with the hierarchical rules “may be seen as subcategories that define the teacher-student relation, within the category relations between subjects” (Morais & Neves 2010, p. 21). To uncover the hierarchical rules, the researchers developed an indicator “communicative relations”, and sorted the text-passages coded as “relations” with subcodes “trainers”, “colleagues”, “superiors” and “other apprentices” by strength of transmitter’s control. In school contexts, hierarchy ranges on a continuum between positional (stronger framing of hierarchy) and personal (weaker framing). Very briefly, "positional transmission is sharply bounded, with well-marked consensual and differentiating rituals, and is relative to person-focused transmission…, a very much condensed communication, where the basic messages of power are elements of an explicit social structure” (Bernstein 1977, p. 5).
While the data allowed to sort coded text passages by the two types of relationship ‘personal’ and ‘positional’, the retrospective interviews did not provide sufficiently detailed information to see modalities. Nevertheless, in addition to these two modalities of more or less transmitter-centred control, the researchers identified from the coded interviews two ways of acquirers’ taking control over the hierarchical rules and described them as: “Acquirers circumvent the hierarchical relationship and take control over the social basis of transmission” and “Levels of hierarchy between trainers/masters and trainees/ apprentices become more equal: Acquirers change the role and train others”. The presentation illustrates these modalities with quotations from the data. Referring back to the underlying official pedagogic discourse and to earlier analyses of the modalities of discursive rules realised in German VET, the presentation argues that these ways of active control-taking over the hierarchical rules are likewise legitimate under the specific conditions of regulated German company VET. In sum, acquirers’ legitimate control-taking over the transmitter-acquirer-relationship suggests that in regulated German company VET, transmitters and acquirers are not separated as they are in schools. Regulated German company VET, then, is a realisation of Moore’s (1984) theoretically constructed transmission type where the transmitters are agents from the community and where “the social principle of hierarchy and exclusion which separated teachers-as-acquirers from other categories of acquirers is abolished” (op.cit., p. 408). When a rule is not “things must be kept apart”, but “things must be put together”, this points “to a very abstract or general principle” which acquirers are socialised into (Bernstein 1977, p. 155), more abstract, possibly, than to cover the needs of one workplace or one company. In conclusion, the presentation seeks for traces of this principle in the interview text passages coded “examination” and in macro-social provisions for trainers and trainees/apprentices.
Becker, H. S. (1972). A School is a Lousy Place To Learn Anything in. The American Behavioral Scientist, 16(1), 85-105. Bernstein, B. (1977). Class, Codes and Control, Vol. III - Towards a Theory of Educational Transmission (Revised ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan. Bernstein, B. (1990). Class, Codes and Control, Vol. IV - The structuring of pedagogic discourse. London, New York: Routledge. Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity (Revised ed.). Boston: Rowman & Littlefield. Berufsbildungsgesetz (BBiG) [Vocational Training Act] from 23.03.2005, Federal Law Gazette, Part I No. 20, 31.03.2005, last amended by the Art. 24 of the Act of December 20, 2011. Gamble, J. (2004). Tacit Knowledge in Craft Pedagogy: A Sociological Analysis. unpublished PhD. University of Cape Town. Hager, P. (2007). Towards a new paradigm of vocational learning. In L. Clarke & C. Winch (Eds.), Vocational education - international approaches, developments and systems (pp. 105-117). London: Routledge. Hoadley, U. (2006). Analysing pedagogy: the problem of framing. working paper. Retrieved from http://www.education.uct.ac.za/sites/default/files/image_tool/images/104/hoadley2006.pdf Höhns, G. (2016). Recontextualisation in In-company Vocational Education in the Dual System in Germany. In P. Vitale & B. Exley (Eds.), Pedagogic Rights and Democratic Education: Bernsteinian explorations of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment (pp. 206-219). London: Routledge. Höhns, G. (2017). Pedagogic practice in company learning: the relevance of discourse. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 1-21. doi: 10.1080/13636820.2017.1411390 Moore, R. (1984). Education and production: a generative model. (Ph.D.), University of London. Morais, A., & Neves, I. (2010). Basil Bernstein as an inspiration for educational research. In P. Singh, A. Sadovnik & S. Semel (Eds.), Toolkits, Translation Devices and Conceptual Accounts (pp. 11-32). New York: Lang. Moss, G. (2001). Bernstein's languages of description: some generative principles. [Article]. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 4(1), 17-19. doi: 10.1080/136455701750069678 Wheelahan, L. (2010). Why knowledge matters in curriculum. Milton Park: Routledge. Witzel, A. (1982). Verfahren der qualitativen Sozialforschung - Überblick und Alternativen. Frankfurt/New York: Campus Verlag. Witzel, A. (2000). The problem-centered interview. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1. Witzel, A., & Reiter, H. (2012). The problem-centred interview. London: Sage.
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