07 SES 03 A, Democratic Citizenship Education
In Sweden the fostering of democratic values has a long history in schools and since the 1990s the question has been put forward as a very important social issue for education (Öhrn, 2001). Today, when an overwhelming majority of young people continue to study after compulsory school, the experience of democratic participation among youths is part of education spaces rather than unions at conventional working sites. According to the Swedish national curriculum for upper secondary, post-compulsory education, schools should not only teach students about democracy, but also ensure that they ’live democracy’ by having real influence on the educational organisation, methods and contents (the Swedish Ministry of Education and Science, 1994). International-comparative studies shows that Sweden and the other Nordic countries in the latter aspect, how to ‘live democracy’ in daily school life, have a broader definition on democratic education than many other countries (Birzéa et al., 2004). Students from Sweden and Nordic countries also express larger faith to students’ possibilities to have influence through engagement (Torney-Purta & Henry Barber, 2004).
However, some Swedish studies show that students’ possibilities to make a difference in school today are limited (e.g. Rosvall, 2011). Previous research also identifies gender in relation to social background as central for the analysis of democratic education in schools, albeit in various and sometimes contradictory ways. It seems as boys have more influence on teaching through their dominance of public speech and space (e.g. Lahelma & Öhrn, 2003), while some studies indicates that small groups of girls are the driving force when pursuing issues about democracy in school (e.g. Öhrn, 2012). There are also studies showing variations in student’s opportunities to exert influence, as well as differences in democratic knowledge, between vocational and academic upper secondary school programmes (Swedish National Agency for Education, 1998, 2010). Other studies identify risks that the subject matter in social studies classes on vocational programmes may be simplified and place low demands on students’ academic development (Swedish Schools Inspectorate, 2011). However, these studies are rather few, and have rarely tied together instruction about and in democracy with students own attempts to exert influence.
This paper focuses democratic education in Swedish upper secondary school programmes with different gender and social class profiles. It covers the teaching in and about democracy, as well as students’ power-positions and their attempts to affect routine school activities. A particular focus of attention is processes of influence, through which the students themselves pursue issues in school. The analysis in this paper is based on Basil Bernstein’s (2000) theories regarding power, control and pedagogic codes, in combination with feminist theories (principally those of Arnot & Reay (2007), Skeggs (1997), Gordon (2006) and Walkerdine (1990)).
Arnot, M. & Reay, D. (2007). A sociology of pedagogic voice: Power, inequality and pupil consultation. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 28(3), 311-325. Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: Theory, research, critique. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. Birzéa, C., Kerr, D.. Mikkelsen, R., Froumin, I., Losito, B., Pol, M., Sardoc, M. (2004). All-European study on education for democratic citizenship policies. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing. Gordon, T. (2006). Girls in education: citizenship, agency and emotions. Gender and Education, 18 (1), 1-15. Lahelma, E. & Öhrn, E. (2003). Strong Nordic women in the making? Gender policies and classroom practicies. I: D. Beach; T. Gordon & E. Lahelma (ed.) Democratic education: Ethnographic challenges. London: the Tufnell Press. Skeggs, B. (1997). Formations of class and gender: becoming respectable. London: Sage. Swedish Ministry of Education and Science (1994). Curriculum for the Non-Compulsory School System Lpf 94. [Läroplaner för de frivilliga skolformerna Lpf 94]. Stockholm: Fritzes. Torney-Purta, J. & Barber, C.H. (2004). Democratic school participation and civic attitudes among European adolescents: analysis of data from the IEA Civic Education Study. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. http://www.terpconnect.umd.edu/~jtpurta Downloaded 2009-12-29. Walkerdine, V. (1990). Schoolgirl fictions. London: Verso. Öhrn, E. (2001). Marginalization of democratic values: a gendered practice of schooling? International Journal of Inclusive Education, 5(2/3), 319-328. Öhrn, E. (2012). Urban education and segregation: The responses from young people. European Educational Research Journal 11(1), 45-57.
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