The Globalization of School Policy and the Restructuring of the Role of Teachers: A Swedish Example

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The Globalization of School Policy and the Restructuring of the Role of Teachers: A Swedish Example

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Publication Conference Paper, other
Title The Globalization of School Policy and the Restructuring of the Role of Teachers: A Swedish Example
Author(s) Lilja, Peter
Date 2009
English abstract
For a long time education was a strictly national concern. Its purpose was to contribute to national unity and to educate citizens suitable for the society in which they would live and work. Changes in the last thirty years, often termed globalization, have come to challenge this function for education in important ways. Drawing upon a minor study consisting of a textual analysis of the school policy debate present in the editorial and debate pages of the largest Swedish newspapers, this paper argues for an apparent collision of public discourses of the role of teachers in Sweden. Results show that a global discourse of education collides with the national curriculum of Sweden in the national policy debate on the overall purpose of the Swedish school system, and the role of the teachers working within it. In short, the national curriculums’ description of the complex nature of the teaching profession, with a strong focus on the fostering of democratically competent citizens firmly based in the defining values of Swedish society, are challenged by the global narrative of a knowledge economy where the purpose of the educational system is to generate competitive subjects with the skills to secure key positions in the global race for high quality jobs and property rights in a global economy. The analysis shows that based on the argument of a relative decline of Swedish students in the Timss and Pisa surveys of the OECD, leading politicians uses a disaster-like rhetoric in order to highlight the need for dramatic improvements of an educational system in deep crisis. This is because the declining results of Swedish students are interpreted as a risk for the future competitiveness of Sweden in a globalized economy. This, they contend, is due to the fact that Swedish teacher educations are infested with muddled ideologies focused on feel-good activities and questions of social competence, instead of the education of teachers who are effective instructors with in-depth knowledge about the subjects that they teach. The solutions to these problems, proposed by leading politicians, have strong connections to the global educational discourse and its focus on market style solutions of accountability and competition in creating effective schools and teachers.The paper concludes that this collision of public discourses of the role of teachers complicates the construction of a coherent professional identity among Swedish teachers, the result being that teachers lock themselves within a conservative view of their profession, seriously hindering the development of the teaching profession necessary for a more globalized world.
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Education
Note NERA/NFPF 37th Annual Congress, Literacy as Worldmaking - A Challenge to Educational Research, Trondheim, Norway, March 5-7, 2009
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/7946 (link to this page)

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