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How to Get Pupils To Make the Right Choice
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health, Social Work and Behavioural Sciences, School of Education, Psychology and Sport Science.
2012 (English)In: ECER 2012, The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All: Network: 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education, 2012Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

With a critical approach the aim of this paper is to investigate how the relationship between upper secondary schools’ economical functions and students’ freedom of choice have been handled in Swedish educational policy between the 1960s and the 2010s.

In a society characterized of being both more and more knowledge intensive and differentiated in the labor market, education has become increasingly important for the capitalist states integrative functions as for the competitiveness in the global economy (Jessop, 2002). Parallel processes can be found in a European context. Different movements have resulted in the creation of supranational systems with the aims of converging nations’ education policy and comparing pupils’ knowledge standards on an international basis (Ringarp & Rothland, 2010).  In other words – knowledge has become high politics (Apple, 2003). 

This “economics of knowledge” is in no way a new phenomenon. The paper shows that the upper secondary education’s importance for a country's economic growth and international competitiveness is something that has been emphasized in the Swedish education policy since the 1960s until today (see for example the Committee reports SOU 1963:43, SOU 1992:94, SOU 2008:27). But what becomes important in this paper – in combination with such integrated pronounced intentions the upper secondary educational system also, to become legitimate, must comprise some differentiation principles. One is, as demonstrated in the paper, that the students must have an opportunity to choose direction and determine the formation and content of their education, so the schooling to some extent will correspond with students own aspirations and dreams. This freedom of choice has in last two decades also included the ability for students to choose between different schools, public as well as private ones (Lindensjö & Lundgren, 2000). 

In this paper focus is directed towards how this relationship, i.e. the balance between the secondary school’s economic functions and students' ability to choose, has been handled in education policy over the period 1960-2010. How have students' abilities, or disabilities, to make rational choices been discussed in educational policy in different periods? And how have these individual aspirations been handled in relation to the upper secondary school’s important function to strengthen the nation economic growth and competitiveness? In Sweden three major reform periods of the Swedish upper secondary school after the Second World War are distinguished. The first one in the 1960s, the second one in the 1990s and the third one in the 2010s. In each reform period a number of so-called “discursive breaks” in education policy have been identified where new ideas win legitimacy of how this relationship should be managed in an effective and legitimate way. Each reform period’s main documents (SOU 1963:43, SOU 1992:94 and SOU 2008:27) have been analyzed and compared in order to explicate these discursive shifts in regard to how education policy has attempted to manage this problem.

Methodology, Methods, Research Instruments or Sources Used With methodological inspiration from the Critical discourse analysis (CDA) (Fairclough, 1992, Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999) the paper investigate educational policy from the viewpoint of three different dimensions: text, discursive practice and social practice. With a focus on how policymakers talk about students, knowledge and society I try, on the text level, to elucidate and analyze the essential concepts, or what I will call them, semantic magnet, in the policy texts. In the next step, i.e. in the analysis of the discursive practice, I see how these concepts underlie and create different types of education discourses. The concept orders of discourse (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999) enables an analysis of the relation between the discursive- and the social practice and to visualize changing patterns of dominance and legitimate education discourses in a specified historical and sociopolitical context, and how this order changes (ranging from 1960s to the 2010s) in relation to societal changes. With a methodological approach as described above it is possible to understand how this relation between students’ individual aspirations and freedom of choice and the secondary educations economics functions has been handled in educational policy in relation to broader societal changes. Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or Findings In all three investigated reform periods the importance of a high quality- secondary education to reinforce economic growth and competitiveness is emphasized. But depending on the historical and the societal context different legitimate solutions are presented for how the secondary school should be organized to achieve such an education. This has implications for how the relationship between students' individual aspirations and the education’s economical functions are handled in policy. In the 1960s, the answer was discussed within the scope of a centralized welfare-oriented educational discourse. In this discourse, the state's capacity to manage the school and the society in a rational way, was highly emphasized. Therefore no or very little confidence was given to the individual student’s rational ability. In the 1990s, a significant shift occured toward a market-oriented educational discourse. Students’ freedom of choice was accordingly here seen as the solution to many problems, especially how the quality would increase. In the current reformation a shift towards a regulated market-oriented educational discourse is discerned in the paper. In this discourse the 1990s freedom of choice is criticized and blamed for causing bad results, particularly in different international knowledge assessments, and that students are too ill-prepared for future employment. References Apple, Michael (2003). The state and the politics of knowledge. London: Routledge Chouliaraki, Lilie & Fairclough, Norman (1999). Discourse in late modernity – Rethinking critical discourse analysis. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University press Fairclough, Norman (1992). Discourse and social change. Oxford: Polity Press. Jessop, Bob (2002). The future of the capitalist state. Cambridge: Polity Lindensjö, Bo & Lundgren, Ulf P (2000). Utbildningsreformer och politisk styrning. Stockholm: HLS. Ringarp, Johanna & Rothland, Martin (2010). “The effects of the PISA results on Education Debates in Sweden and Germany” European Educational Research Journal. Vol. 9, Nr. 3 SOU 1963:42. 1960 års gymnasieutredning. 4, Ett nytt gymnasium. Stockholm: Ecklesiastikdepartementet ( SOU 1992:94. Skola för bildning: Huvudbetänkande av Läroplanskommittén. Stockholm: Utbildningsdepartementet SOU 2008:27). Framtidsvägen – En reformerad gymnasieskola. Stockholm: Utbildningsdepartementet

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-23108OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-23108DiVA: diva2:579843
Conference
ECER 2012, 17-21 September, Cáciz
Available from: 2012-12-20 Created: 2012-12-20 Last updated: 2015-04-14Bibliographically approved

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