23 SES 09 A, The Nordic Vision of a School for All Meets the Neo-Liberal Educational Policy. Part 2 Themes and Trends
Symposium, Part 2
The Nordic Model in Education is traditionally considered to provide a comprehensive school for all students, promoting equality and inclusion across social class, abilities, gender, ethnicity and religion. This has been an important aim in educational policy in all the Nordic countries for several decades. As transnational neo-liberal governance strategies have been implemented also in the Nordic countries during the last two decades, emerging evidence indicate that the comprehensive school model is under threat. The new governance policies influences new social class divisions in school, assessment systems, classroom pedagogics as well as the inclusion of less able students, and directs the internal life of schools into a more traditional school with strong classification and a result-based orientation of learning.
This symposium focuses on some central themes considered to be crucial to the maintenance of a comprehensive school for all, and how some measures may affect the aims of equality in negative ways. First, there are the policies of freedom of school choice, privatization and market-orientation that are currently suspected to undermine the comprehensive school system. Two contributions focus upon this, one as an over-view of privatization in three Nordic countries, and one ethnographic study of free school choice policies in Sweden.
Progressive education, resting on ideas from among others John Dewey, has for a long time accompanied the implementation of a school for all and given inspiration to interdisciplinary school-based development. Progressivism provides the necessary flexibility in teaching and learning methods and curriculum content to adapt to the student variation and to promote democracy. What happens to progressive educational practices in confrontation with the neo-liberal policy? Will individualization increase at the expense of democracy? And will learning as an endless growth process be undermined by a short-term understanding of learning as result?
The assessment policies are addressed in the fourth contribution. From the perspectives of Bourdieu and Bernstein, it is argued that some kinds of assessment may create differences between students and play a key role in the process of socialization, marginalization, inclusion, and exclusion in society. Special attention will be given to the use of standardized testing, along with references to documentary and empirical studies.
The last contribution investigates how mixtures of internal differential structures may develop at local level, using vocational education at upper secondary level as case. Students entitled to special education are offered alternative strands of courses in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, in combination with workplace practices. A school for all needs flexibility and not uniformity to fulfill its aims, and inclusion and exclusion of students in education, and later on in society, is constantly at stake.
This symposium is a continuation and elaboration of the symposium “The Nordic Vision of a School for All Meets the Neo-Liberal Educational Policy. Part 1. Reports from five countries.” It is a result of the Nordic network “NordNet” financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The intention is to have the contributions published in an anthology.
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