23 SES 01 B, Interpreting and Enacting Reform Locally
In Norway’s latest educational reform, the Knowledge Promotion, the task to concretize and materialize the competence aims (objectives) in the national curriculum became decentralized to schools and teachers. This was the last initiative to decentralize The Norwegian School and remove what has been understood as governmental standardization. School based curriculum plans concretized by the teachers and school owners, become the political recipe by which a decentralizing of instruction methods should happen. The idea is substantiate with arguments that more creativity and diversity will be the result, if schools and teachers get more room (Telhaug 2005).The basic logic seems to promote what’s known in implementations theory as a hierarchal translation chain (Røvik 2007). That means that the levels in a school system nearly react as a stimulus – response system, when one level has finished - the translations by the next level starts.
Engelsen (2008) have showed that the municipalities or school owners in Norway are copying the national curriculum documents. They do not concretize and materialize the objectives. The explanation offered here is that the competence aims have few possible translations. Its status as a regulation, and the control and guidance of national authorities provided thru the objectives or other parts of the reform, makes the translation process to a procedure (Røvik 2007) which shape copies and not innovative local curriculum plans. This work will show that the shaping partially continue inside schools.
Teachers transforming of the objective driven curriculum too instructions are more compound, but they don’t as often assumed perform window dressing and decouple their pedagogical practice from symbolic plans (Coburn 2004). The educational governance does change teachers’ instructions in the classrooms. Multidisciplinary governance of subjects and multidisciplinary subjects (Spillane and Burch 2006) and the shaping of sensemaking in school (Coburn 2004) thru local curriculum work and with the textbooks as the dark horse, offers others mechanisms than a hierarchal translation chain.
Theoretically, the paper draws on neoinstitutional literature. On a general level it uses an understanding of ideas as cultural myths (Meyer and Rowan 1977), and in particular theory about translation rules (Røvik 2007) and a typology of teachers reactions to new ideas (Coburn 2004).
Coburn, C. (2004). Beyond Decoupling: Rethinking the Relationship Between the Institutional Environment and the Classroom. In Sociology of Education. Vol. 77 (july). pp 211 – 244. Coburn, C. (2001a). Collective Sensemaking about reading: How Teachers Mediate Reading Policy in Their Professional Communities. In Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Vol 23. Nr. 2. pp 145 – 170. Coburn, C. (2001b).Making sense of Reading: Logics of Reading in the Institutional Environment of the Classroom. Unpublish Phd. Dissertation, school of education, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. Engelsen, B. U. (2008). Kunnskapsløftet. Sentrale styringssignaler og lokale strategidokumenter. Universitet i Oslo. Pedagogisk institutt. Forskningsgruppen Læreplanstudier. Forskningsprosjekt ARK. Rapport 1. Mayer, J.W. and Rowan, B. (1977). Institutionalized organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony. In American Journal of Sociology. Vol 83. Nr. 2. (sep.). pp. 340 – 363. Mayer, J. W. (2008). The evolution of Modern Stratification systems. In Social stratification. Class, race and gender in sociological perspective. Grusky, D.B. (ed.) 3 edition. Kap. 105. Røvik, K. A. (2007). Trender og translasjoner. Ideer som former det 21. århundrets organisasjon. Universitetsforlaget. Telhaug, A. O. (2005). Kunnskapsløftet - ny eller gammel skole?: beskrivelse og analyse av Kristin Clemets reformer i grunnopplæringen. Oslo: Cappelen akademisk forlag. Spillane, J. and Burch, P. (2006). The institutional environment and Instructional Practice: Changing Patterns of Guidance and control in Public Education. In The new institutionalism in education. Meyer, H-D. and Rowan, B. (ed.). Weick, K. E. (2001). Make Sense of the Organization. Blackwell Publishing.
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