13 SES 13 A, Culture, climate, and educational responsibility
In a European educational context where “life in schools” (e.g. MacLaren, 1989) is to a large extent dominated by a language of metrics and measurement, the everyday gestures and ordinary things that teachers do in order to create a safe and stimulating educational situation for their students often goes unnoticed and is given little attention and value. In order to respond to this negligence, research on schools culture seeks to offer teachers and educators a scientifically based language for “the pedagogical housekeeping” (e.g. Landahl, 2006) that needs to be in place for knowledge and formation to happen (e.g. Prosser, 1999; Deal & Peterson, 2016; Solvason, 2005). However, within this research, the notion of “school culture” seems either too broad or too vague for capturing the complexity of school life. For example, the notion of “school culture” is often used interchangeably to the notions of “school climate” and “school ethos” (Glover & Coleman, 2005), rendering invisible and unintelligible the many layers and dimension of the work that teachers do.
Against this background, the overall aim of this paper is to offer a conceptual analysis of the notion of school culture for educational, policy, research and practice. More precisely, the purpose is to unfold the notion of school culture in a three-folded gesture of a) mapping, b) unpacking and c) reconstructing. What it aims at showing is that school culture is a concept that comprises an abundance of metaphors not just relating to culture but also to climate and ethos.
In the first step, we are mapping the research field of school culture, looking particularly at where it is addressed and how it is being discussed within both educational research and educational policy and practice. It will be shown that school culture as a concept oscillates between metrics and mystery, rendering it often too measurable and technical or too mysterious and vague (Deal & Peterson, 2016). In the second step we are unpacking school culture (as the life of schools; How is life of schools liveable/habitual?), distinguishing it from school climate (as life in schools; How is life in schools organised and materialised?) and school ethos (as the meaning of school; What makes the school worth attending to?). In the third step we are reconstructing school culture by offering an educational and more precise language for addressing the above-mentioned “pedagogical housekeeping” of teachers. By way of conclusion we sum up our argument and return to the main contributions of the paper.
The significance of this theoretical work becomes evident in a time when the institution of the school in many parts of the West all the more seems to be regarded as a natural phenomenon, that is, as a place that can be taken for granted or as a space that has always existed and can be controlled and mastered (Biesta 2019; Masschelein & Simons, 2013). What seems to have been cast into oblivion, in others words, is that the school is a living, human invention prone to change which is why this paper begins in the idea that what we call ‘school’ is a cultural phenomenon. The core of our proposal is that if school culture is to have something to offer as an antidote to the naturalisation of the school, all three dimensions – school culture, school climate and school ethos – need to be acknowledged in analysing the complexity of school life.
The method used in this paper is a philosophical argument that unfolds in three parts (see above).
The results show that there is a necessary and yet unexplored interplay to be considered in pedagogical practice and research between the culture (form), climate (life), and ethos (spirit) of schools. This becomes important not least in a Europe that either calls for more evidence-based research and focus on controlling and predicting desired results (the metrics of school culture), or assumes that the natural and organic life in school is best left in peace (the mystery of school culture). Against this, the paper resists an approach to research on school culture that is either too metrified or to mystified and if offers a more precise and yet nuanced way of talking about the micro-practices of the school where culture, ethos and climate signify different but interrelated dimensions.
Biesta, Gert J. J. (2019). What Kind of Society Does the School Need? Redefining the Democratic Work of Education in Impatient Times. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 2019, Vol.38(6), pp.657-668 Chapman, Paul. (2014). Reframing Transformational Leadership; New School Culture and Effectiveness. Electronic Resource: Sense Publishers Deal, Terrence, & Peterson, Kent D. (2016). Shaping school culture (Third ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Glover, Derek & Coleman, Marianne (2005). School culture, climate and ethos: interchangeable or distinctive concepts? Journal of in-service education, Vol.31(2), pp.251-272. Landahl, Joakim (2006). Auktoritet och ansvar. Lärares fostrans- och omsorgsarbete i historisk belysning [Discipline and Care.]. Diss. Stockholm: Arbetslivsinstitutet. Masschelein, Jan & Simons, Maarten (2013). In Defence of the School. A Public Issue. Translated by J. McMartin. Leuven, Belgium, Education, Culture & Society Publishers McLaren, Peter (1989). Life in schools: an introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education. New York: Longman McLaren, Peter. (1986). Schooling as a ritual performance. (London: Routledge). McLaughlin, Terence. (2005). The Educative Importance of Ethos. In British Journal of Educational Studies, 53(3): 306-325. Peters, Richard. S. (1966). Ethics and Education. (London, George Allen & Unwin). Prosser, John (red.) (1999). School culture. London: Paul Chapman Solvason, Carla. (2005). Investigating specialist school ethos ... or do you mean culture?, Educational Studies, 31:1, 85-94 Van Manen, Max. (2015). Pedagogical tact: knowing what to do when you don't know what to do. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press Warnick, Bryan. (2009). Ritual, Imitation and Education in R. S. Peters. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 43(1), 57-74.
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.