30 ONLINE 22 A, Risk and controversy in ESE
MeetingID: 847 9921 0224 Code: mx3N04
This submission interrogates how we can understand the position of controversy in the teaching about sustainability issues. Based on semi-structured interviews with teachers and qualitative analysis of their responses, the empirical engagement with their self-reported teaching practices is to provide entry points for understanding the positionality of “controversy from a didactic perspective. Thais is, the analysis is to provide insights regarding how teacher perceive of how and where “controversy” emerges in the relational engagement of teachers and students with specific sustainability related contents. Positionality of controversy refers here to a” where” and “when” in educational processes, where for example controversy might be described by teachers as being a priori to the teaching situation and located “in” the content or alternatively as something that might be described as emerging “in” the student as a result of conflicts in the classroom between “held” perspectives. The empirical analysis is here to result in a didactic triangulation of controversy according to identified different traditions of teaching. Didactic triangulation utilizes the three reference points of “content”, “learner” and “teacher” in relation to which the position of controversy is accounted for by different teaching traditions. Teaching tradition is here understood as a form of selective tradition (Öhman, 2004; Sund & Wickman, 2011) that relates to an institutionalized form of patterns or habits in practice. The didactic triangulation of controversy is to provide an empirical ground for a reflection on the premises and limits of engaging with controversy as a political aspect of environmental and sustainability education.
The overarching ambition of interrogating the position of controversy is to contribute to existing research debate within environmental and sustainability education (ESE) research that focus on its political dimension (Bengtsson, 2014; Håkansson & Östman, 2018; Tryggvason & Öhman, 2019). Locating “controversy” is to provide entry points for reflecting on the premises for and limits of selective teaching traditions and education as a political project that is on the on hand seen as to contribute to emancipation through subjectification and a social project that is socializing into norms and values (Biesta, 2009; Hasslöf & Malmberg, 2014). The ambition is here also to connect this debate on the political dimension of ESE to arguments and findings of the sparse existent research on teaching about controversial issues in environmental and sustainability education (e.g. Anderson & Jacobson, 2018; Camino & Calcagno, 1995; Gayford, 2000).
A key question is to engage with is to clarify: A) What are the limits and premises of controversy for disrupting or realizing the educational ideals of subjectification and socialization in the teaching practices once it is located differently in didactic relations? The submission is here to provide a conceptual framework for teasing out consequences of certain teaching practices locating controversy differently. What does this location of controversy mean for learning and teaching in terms of possibility and limits?
Speaking back to broader conceptual and political frameworks for understanding the possibilities and limits of environmental and sustainability education, the analysis is to reflect on the “educational” consequences of locating “controversy” differently in learning and teaching, that it is to engage with the overarching question B): What does controversy mean for education as a social project once we take into consideration the differently “located” premises and limits teaching and learning?
The basic means of data generation that will be utilized in this submission are semi-structured interviews with 20 - 35 teachers working in secondary education. The interviews are structured in the form of six overarching questions regarding their teaching about controversial sustainability issues. The first question concerns the nature of content (what), that is which issues the teacher addresses and if they are controversial in the classroom or are identified as controversial in learning material and the teacher's design thereof. The second question relates to the frequency of their teaching about controversial sustainability issues (when/how often). The third question concerns the teachers’ methods of instruction about these issues (how). The fourth question addresses their purposes and objectives that they have in mind when teaching about these issues (why). The fifth question focuses possible emotions that might emerge in the classroom (emotions). The analysis utilized in this paper consists of a qualitative data analysis utilizing Nvivo as analysis software. The qualitative data analysis consisted of first and secondary cycle coding. In first cycle coding the analysis utilized a study specific form of protocol coding, that is a coding that utilizes preestablished codes as a form of deductive analysis (Miles et al., 2020, p. 66). The protocol codes are adapted to the purposes of the study and is by the author labelled “didactic coding” utilizing the above outlined research questions´ specific codes: “WHAT”, “HOW OFTEN”, “HOW”, “WHY”, “EMOTIONS”. In addition to this didactic coding descriptive coding, that assigns labels in short words or phrases was utilized to give meaning to patterns emerging in the particular cases as a form of inductive coding (ibid.). The second cycle coding is to identify patterns and differences among patterns with regard to the didactic and descriptive coding. In addition, a particular analysis of the relation of the codes “EMOTIONS”, “WHAT” and “WHY” in the identified patterns is used to characterize particular teaching traditions as well as to create a basis for the didactic triangulation of “controversy” in these traditions.
The didactic triangulation is to be presented in the form of visual representations of “positions” of controversy in the identified selective teaching traditions. This visual representation is to provide a basis for a theoretical reflection of the consequences of the premises and limits of these traditions to engage with controversies in environmental and sustainability education. The discussion is here to engage in a dialogue with existent research in the field in order to substantiate the “location” of the political dimension of different theoretical frameworks applied in that research and informing approaches to teaching about sustainability related content. For example, the conceptual “location” of the political in deliberative traditions’ appeal to reasoning communication (Englund et al., 2008) and the conception of antagonism in radical democratic approaches (Bengtsson, 2014; Håkansson et al., 2018; Hasslöf, 2015; Tryggvason & Öhman, 2019) are interrogated in regard to what aspect of education (socialisation, subjectification) “controversy” is an expression of. In particular, the submission is to interrogate the extent “controversy” is located in the “social/subject” realm of didactic relation to a content? Is controversy and the controversial aspect of sustainability issues only related to how teachers, students and members of the social public relate to it as a content of education? Might “controversy” be located “in” the content itself and what might this mean for our (social/subjectifying) efforts to “handle” the controversy in teaching and education? What would such a positionality of “controversy” mean for our understanding of education as a social project? The submission is here to open up for shared reflection on how practical positioning of “controversy” in teaching as well as research might limit conceptions of how to engage in teaching with the political dimension of environmental and sustainability education.
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