NW 15 Research on Partnerships in Education: Trust in partnerships in education

Trust in partnerships in education

Trust in partnerships in education involves various stakeholders with different levels of power and interests. Trust supports the establishment of relationships and partnership where those involved make promises to each other and if those are not kept, partners feel betrayed. In this special call we invite contributions to critically examine the role of trust in partnerships in education. This could include topics that examine the trust teachers may have in the relationships that are formed with researchers, the trust society has in education or how through digitalisation machines and algorithms become powerful players with access to information entrusted to them.

The Call
“Trust is an attitude that we have towards people whom we hope will be trustworthy, where trustworthiness is a property, not an attitude” (McLeod, 2015, first paragraph). Trust plays an important role in partnerships in education. It may involve the trust children or young people have in their teacher or the other way around, the trust parents have in the school providing a safe environment for their children, the trust educational communities have in the school system that the information that is being collected is in fact not causing any harm, or the trust that needs to be established when different educational groups go into a partnership, for instance for educational or research purposes.
However, trust in partnerships in education is also risky. Trust is of significance since it supports the establishment of relationships between people who depend on each other for one reason or the other, such as advice, help, or keeping promises that have been made (Skyrmes, 2008). It is important when no-one is forced to go into a partnership but even more so in settings that are signified by power imbalances and inequalities (Adams, Forsyth & Mitchell, 2009). Trust means also that there is the danger that the people who are being trusted do not uphold the promises that were made and therefore there is a danger that trust is being betrayed or destroyed. In partnerships in education this is perhaps
amplified through increased digitisation in education. Trust or mistrust shapes what level of freedom young people are given when they are at school and own, but are not allowed, to use their technology. Issues of trust play out when for example some new technology is invasive enough to unravel emotions and feelings of individuals and pass this information on to third parties who were never invited into this kind of partnership. This is where trust becomes dangerous. We need to carefully examine what trust means between the different stakeholders who go into partnerships in education to understand whether trust is justified or whether pessimism toward one another is warranted. Trust is also a key value when conducting educational research. Participants may feel at risk, vulnerable and/or under pressure (for example, they may feel they are being evaluated). Also, when working with vulnerable or marginalised groups, trust is an important value to be considered.
In this special call we invite contributions to consider and critically examine what role trust plays in partnerships in education. This could include topics that examine the trust teachers may have in the relationships that are formed between academics and practitioners and whether a lack of mutual trust counteracts the wish to improve different aspects in education. It may be interesting to consider society’s ‘trust in the teachers’ professionalism meaning to trust that schools are able to prepare the students for a yet unforeseen future (Torgersen, 2018).
We would like to ask contributors to consider: What do trusting partnerships look like and is trust necessarily a mutual experience? Or does trust in partnerships in education inevitably point towards inequality and injustice of some form? We welcome contributions that consider all kinds of partnerships in education and may include also trust relationships in material actors.

Contact person(s)
Kathrin Otrel-Cass (Kathrin.otrel-cass(at)uni-graz.at)
Magali Hardouin (magali.hardouin(at)inspe-bretagne.fr)

Adams, C. M., Forsyth, P. B., & Mitchell, R. M. (2009). The formation of parent-school
trust: A multilevel analysis. Educational Administration Quarterly, 45(1), 4-33.
McLeod, C. (Fall 2015 Edition). "Trust", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ,
Edward N. Zalta (Ed.), Retrieved from
Skyrms, B. (2008). Trust, risk, and the social contract. Synthese, 160(1), 21-25.
Torgersen, G. E. (2018). Interaction: 'Samhandling' Under Risk: A Step Ahead of the
Unforeseen. Open access.

NW 15 runs a mailing list and invites researchers to join. To join the mailing list, send a blank message to nw15-subscribe(at)lists.eera-ecer.de

Interview with Link Convenor 2019