23 SES 16 B, Unpacking Myths of the Nordic Success Story of Education in an Era of Multiple Crises
Background A number of researchers across the world are arguing that we are experiencing a crisis in education, one that is taking place within the larger crisis of capitalism. In Finland the responses to these crises towards young people have focused on attributes and competences of emotional well-being and mental health. In various educational settings typical initiatives have included therapeutic activities such as interventions for emotional well-being, activities for raising self-esteem, and emotional education (Ecclestone et al., 2015). Objectives This paper focuses on education that has been permeated by therapeutic governance where the question is not whether to intervene but which interventions are more effective. Therapeutic governance refers to management of populations’ psychology, and its significance for security. Therapeutic governance forges a link between psychosocial well-being and security, and seeks to foster personalities able to cope with risk and insecurity. So an individual’s sense of psychosocial well-being is not simply of personal concern, but is an aspect of good governance (e.g., Brunila et al., 2017). Theoretical framework Discourses do not simply describe their targets but help to create them, not only as objects but also as subjects, due to the way in which they can also influence the individual’s sense of self. In the paper, attention is directed to therapeutic governance in education as discursive practices, meaning especially knowledge formations. The focus is on therapeutic/psy-knowledge through plural and contingent practices and its outcomes in terms of agency of young people. Methods and data sources The empirical data emanate from two research projects led by the author, i.e., Youth on the Move. Revisiting the vulnerability ethos in the era of market-oriented education (2014¬–2017), and Interrupting the Youth Support Systems in the Ethos of Vulnerability (2017–2021). The data produced in these projects include interviews of approximately 300 young people, 100 youth workers, observation of activities, and participation in programs, analysis of program documents and national and EU-level policy documents and data from seminars and other events. Results Therapeutic governance influences young people and individualizes societal problems by reducing them to personality characteristics. The knowledge of the scale and impact of this has been limited and difficult to grasp for policy makers, youth and educational professionals, and not least the young people concerned. In the project we argue that interrogating therapeutic governance asks for more critical debate about values, human subjectivity and purpose of education.
Brunila, K.; Ikävalko, E.; Kurki, T.; Masoud, A;, Mertanen, K.; Mikkola, A; & Mäkelä, K. (2017). Transitions, Justice and Equity in Education. (In review.) Ecclestone, Kathryn & Brunila, Kristiina (2015). Governing emotionally-vulnerable subjects and the therapisation of social justice. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 23(4), 485–506. Oxford Encyclopedia of Education. Oxford University Press. (JUFO 3). On line publication date Mar 2017. http://education.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.001.0001/acrefore-9780190264093-e-130
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