Negotiating values in schools : an infinite complexity

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Negotiating values in schools : an infinite complexity

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title Negotiating values in schools : an infinite complexity
Author(s) Assarson, Inger ; Ohlsson, Lisbeth ; Andreasson, Ingela ; Ahlberg, Ann
Date 2011
English abstract
Education always has been a main tool for adjusting citizens’ ways of thinking about the world. Although the importance of transmitting crucial values are not new its importance was emphasized in the Swedish curricula of 1994 in conjunction with the ideological collapse of communism in Eastern Europe that before the fall of the Berlin wall had served as an antitype for defining democracy. One of the aims in education has for the last decade been to foster homogeneity in a fragmented postmodern society. This has created an ethical moral order in schools around prevailing values. Our presentation is built on a project financed by the National Agency of Education during 2010 with the aim to scrutinize and problematize the work in schools with civil rights and values as equableness, democracy, participation and solidarity. The first part of the study consists in an analysis of official texts where fundamental values are given senses and meanings. In the selection of texts the aim was to find those documents central to how questions of values constitutes as well as are constituted by prevailing societal conditions and it’s social and discoursive context. The texts were supposed to provide information about the expected acts based on prescribed values. To understand senses and meanings in these texts it is important according to the Wittgenstein theory to be able to think beyond the limits of a phenomenon and in registering what is inside also reveal how the phenomenon is signified by exclusion of what cannot be comprised. In the analysis we have used the term cluster and scrutinized how they were constructed by connecting different signs to a nodal point. Thereby it emerged how significance was made in relation to signs of meaning as Democracy and influence, School as a social venue, Understanding the Other, Moral guidance and “Bildung” and teaching. Method The aim of the second part of the study was to analyze how these values were transmitted in schooling. Special interest was on how pupils’ behaviors were valued according to how norms were constructed, how veiled or visible strategies of rewarding were used and how routines and repeated acts expressed obvious, but still invisible interpretations of ethical standpoints. In the second part 7 school areas from preschool to grammar schools were visited during a week while pupils, teachers, welfare teams and parents were interviewed. Furthermore observations were made in classroom situations as well as in informal settings. Interviews and observations were documented by recordings and field notes and then turned into texts. Texts are according to Ricoeur a semiotic dimension recalling the process of references that has been interrupted from the act of discourses. In this respect to analyze means to unveil a structure of internal reliance that constitutes the static condition of a text. The screening during data collection was made by using important signs that emerged from the text analysis as participation, safety, equity, democratic conductivity. Expected Outcomes The second part of the study showed the importance of negotiating values continuously in order to avert oppression. Attitudes in the marginal of the tolerable emerged as threats against what is constructed in society as a canon of fundamental values. Especially teenagers were seen as provoking with attitudes of homophobia and xenophobia. It was a challenge for the adults in schools to keep the openness that contribute to the definition of democracy and simultaneously defend what is socially constructed as good. Among younger children this was unproblematic and education mostly focused on reliance in taken for granted principles. Social injustice and inequality in society turned out to have greater impact among older students. Here social class and the amount of cultural capital mattered most in grammar schools where students were divided into theoretical or vocational educational programs. The fostering of citizens proved to be a struggle towards harmony where antagonism was seen as destabilizing the canon of “taken for granted values” in human rights. Pupils were tutored into the right way of thinking by means of different governmentality strategies based on pastoral power.
Link http://www.eera-ecer.de/ecer-programmes/conference/5/contribution/18970/ (external link to publication)
Publisher EERA
Language swe (iso)
Subject(s) Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
Note ECER (European Conference on Educational Research) 2011 : Urban education, 12-16 September, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/19718 (link to this page)
Link http://www.eera-ecer.de/ecer2011/ (external link to related web page)

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