05 SES 09 A, Positive Youth Development and Second Chance Education
In Denmark and other western countries there has for decades, been a political focus on how to make more young people complete a youth education (upper secondary or vocational education). Despite the attention there's still between 10-20 % missing out. Therefore a broad majority in the Danish parliament wished to rethink and strengthen second chance educational programs. In summer 2019 a new educational program was launched: FGU (The Preparatory Basic Education). The target group for FGU are young people under the age of 25 years, whom are rated ‘not-ready’ to enroll (or complete) a youth education program. The 88 new FGU schools in Denmark offer various educational tracks, and a new pedagogical and didactic approach to education. We are ‘first movers’ to do research on FGU schools. We wonder how young people in educationally disadvantaged positions, experience FGU schools everyday life and how the new pedagogical and didactic approach works. We ask the following research question: Who are the students that attend FGU schools and what are their experience with the ‘new pedagogical approach’ that the schools offers?
Theoretically we draw upon Basil Bernstein’s educational sociology, including his perspective on reproduction in the educational system “Education is central to the knowledge base of a society, groups and individuals. Yet education also, like health, is a public institution, central to the production and reproduction of distributive injustices”.(Bernstein 2000, p. Xix)Following Bernstein’s quote there is a risk that FGU can reinforce an experience of inequality among the young people attending. On the basis of our preliminary analysis of the differentiated group of young people, we wish to further examine if, and for which students FGU may reduce the (re)production of inequality and contribute to a desire for further education. How does FGU handle the risk of reinforcing students past experiences of not being successful in the school?
In our study we have a double focus. Partly on the youth and their everyday practices and their professional and social/personal wellbeing and partly on the pedagogical practices at FGU. In the political agreement about FGU it is emphasized that the teaching must differ significantly from traditional teaching and be much more practice-oriented (The Danish Parliament 2017, p. 4). Therein lies an understanding that, in relation to the target group, it is necessary to think teaching and pedagogical practices in other ways than traditionally. I order to make in depth analysis on whether the FGU can help create new opportunities for the differentiated group of students, we will examine the pedagogical practices based upon Bernstein’s concepts of classification (the relations of power) and framing (the control of the pedagogical settings) (Bernstein 1998, 2000 & 2001). As Bernstein points out the classification as well as the framing can be respectively strong or weak and the strength of these determines which positions and opportunities for participation the students are given in the pedagogical practice (Bernstein 2000, p. 5ff & 2001, p. 74).
In our methodological approach, we draw on a practice theoretical perspective (Schatzki 1996, Kemmis et. al. 2014) with inspiration from classroom research as described by Lindblad & Sahlström (1998). By interviewing, observing and recording the students and teachers’ everyday practices (sayings, doings and relatings) in school we will try to create patterns of understanding (practice architectures) that can shade light on the learning environment. Lindblad & Sahlström emphasize that classroom research draws upon a particular form of ethnography (School ethnography or ethnographic classroom research) which is not to be confused with the more classical ethnographic discipline with its more extensive theoretical and methodological skills (Lindblad & Sahlström, p. 226). In Lindblad & Sahlström's definition of ethnographic classroom research, longer field participation does not necessarily appear to be a requirement. In contrast, the ethnographic inspiration lies precisely in the desire to create knowledge ‘from below’ and thus look at specific interactions, negotiations and strategies in the everyday life. We will draw on Bernstein's (2001) concepts of power and control to uncover conditions in the learnings environment that may seem counterproductive or even exclude students. Here we also find inspiration in the critical ethnography (Madison 2012). Madison describes critical ethnography as a methodological approach to address injustices within specific 'lived' domains. Thus, in the critical ethnography lies an ambition to change injustice or oppression by changing the existing conditions towards greater freedom and equality. The ambition for this requires a covering of what is not immediately visible to us, to disrupt what is and thereby to illuminate what is taken for granted by making underlying power and control relationships visible. This is in line with Bernstein, whose theory also contains a change perspective. Thus, critical ethnography and Bernstein share the notion that there are forms of power and control that are not immediately visible and which may help to disadvantage certain groups of individuals. However, while Bernstein primarily refers to the perspective of change as something that stems from practice, the critical ethnography emphases the researcher position as a helper in changing the conditions of the disadvantaged. Therefor we also have a pro-active part of our research where we intend to cooperate with teachers and let our research results and the teachers practice experience be joined in elaborations and development of equality based learning environments.
The first part of the research project we expect to shed light on the upcoming new pedagogical and didactic learning environment at the FGU schools in a student/ youth perspective. If successful the new pedagogical and didactic approach can have potential to be spread to other levels of the educational system. To do this we will first construct a model for understanding students/young people's earlier and present experiences with different educational settings seen in a horizontal (school, friendship, family, work) and a vertical (stages of youth life) perspective. This is because we know from previous research that educational vulnerability is created in relationships, in many different arenas and differs according to the young person's development (Cefu 2019). Secondly we will give an overview of how the FGU schools organize their everyday practices (practice architectures) and their effect on the learning environment including the opportunities and barriers in relation to include all students and develop their professional, personal and social competencesIn the overview of the FGU, we will also include the impact of cooperation with local workplaces, the municipal youth effort (KUI) and other external initiatives. In the second part of the research project we will work proactive with the teachers at FGU. Inspired by action research methods researchers and teachers will, in cooperation, develop and test initiatives that can contribute to equality in education, for example, by creating participation opportunities for all students that can strengthen their educational skills and life skills.
Bernstein, B. (1998) Class and Pedagogies: Visible and Invisible. I: A.H. Halsey m.fl. Education: Culture, Economy. Oxford University Press. Bernstein, B. (2000) Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: Theory, research, critique (revised edition). London: Rowman & Littlefield. Bernstein, B. (2001) Pædagogiske koder og deres praksismodaliteter. I: Bayer, M. & Chouliaraki, L.(red.) Pædagogik, diskurs og magt. Akademisk forlag. Cefu 2019/ Görlich, A. , Pless, M., Katznelson, N., Graversen, L.: Ny Udsathed i ungdomslivet. 11 forskere om den stigende mistrivsel blandt unge. Hans Reitzels Forlag. Kemmis, S., Wilkingson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P. & Bristol, L. (2014): Changing practices, Changing education. Springer. Lindblad, S. & Sahlström, F. (1998) Klasserumsforskning: en oversigt med fokus på interaktion og elever. In: Bjerg, J. (red.) (2003) Pædagogik - en grundbog til et fag. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag. Madison, D. S. (2012) Critical Ethnography: Method, Ethics, and Performance. Los Angeles: Sage Publications ltd. The Danish Parliament/Regeringen (2017) Aftale om bedre veje til uddannelse og job. Regeringen. Schatzki, Theodore (1996): Social Practices. Cambridge university press
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