Summaries nr 3 1998

Summaries nr 3 1998


Staffan Larsson, 1998: On the training of field researchers /Skolning av fältforskare/. Pedagogisk Forskning i Sverige, Vol 3, No 3, pp 161­175. Stockholm ISSN 1401-6788

The training of research students in doctoral programmes plays an important role as something that forms the students and future researchers view of research: what it is and what it is not. The training of doctoral students should be considered as something that not only shapes the students conception of research and competencies doing research, it contributes to form the next generation of research. I therefore argue that the construction of the training of doctoral students should mirror contemporary views on the nature of research. The training in field research is the case that here is the example of the consequences of the thesis above. What kind of training should mirror contemporary views on the nature of field research?

A starting point are articles on teaching field research or ethnography. There are many different design versions, but the celebration of being in the field is almost always present. The training that is described in the literature seems to deal with access to the field, collection and interpretation of data from the field ­ the earlier phases in a research process. Less frequent is the art of creating a text – writing – part of the training. I want to argue that the training must be more ambitious to mirror contemporary views on field research.

One of the most obvious changes in the last decade has been the »discovery» of the importance of text construction and that rhetoric is part and parcel of interpretations. Clifford has pointed out the denial of the author – i.e. that researchers are not only reporting but creating stories. There has also been a critique of the contradictory relation that classic ethnographers demonstrate to their experiences in the field. Presence ­ »being there» ­ has been the central validity claim, i.e. researchers experiences as the central knowledge base. However in classic ethnographies researchers make themselves as experiencing authors invisible in the main text, where cultures are described as if the field told the story and no author existed. On the other hand the researchers subjectivity became visible in research biographies, as if the experiencing subject was not to be relied upon in the main work. This kind of meta-analysis could provide an example of changes in the discourse that have changed the view on the researcher, an awareness that texts are constructed by researchers who are also authors. I therefore argue that training of field researcher should include creating a critical awareness of texts as texts and that field researchers are constructing messages from the field, rather than being neutral messengers. It seems that this theme has not been a part of the mainstream content in training of field researchers, according to the texts.

I furthermore argue that the task for a researcher does not end with being able to write texts and being aware of the problems with texts in field research. The final question and challenge is the consequences of the interpretation or the text that was constructed. The problem that should be thematised is: how can research and texts be constructed so that they have consequences. One topic is how to deal with the kind of language that is effective in relation to different audiences. Another problem has to with other measures that can be taken to promote the reading of the interpretation and it will be used in adequate contexts and so on. This last part of research activities seems to have been left invisible in the training of researchers – while it is certainly executed with varying success by researchers. I thus suggest that these problems should be addressed in the training. One problem here is that the knowledge base for such a discourse is not obvious.

The conception of the task of constructing a training of doctoral students must be widened to embrace the full research process but also incorporate the changed views on the texts that constitute the products of field research. Finally it should also thematise the consequences of research as an act in society. This expansion of the task must be done if the training should mirror contemporary views on the nature of field research.

Staffan Larsson, Department of Education and Psychology; Linköping University, SE 581 83 Linköping, Sweden


pp 233-234

Annelis Jönsson, 1998: What’s the contribution of teacher education to the socialisation of teachers?/Vad bidrar lärarutbildning med i socialiseringen till lärare?/. Pedagogisk Forskning i Sverige, Vol 3, No 3, pp 176­191. Stockholm ISSN 1401-6788

Investigations about what teacher education means for the socialisation of student teachers are rather contradictory. There are a couple of studies which show that teacher education plays a rather marginalized role for teacher socialisation while others claim the opposite. The central question in this study has been what happens during the course of the education and if one can identify any socialisation effects during the education. By comparing how a group of teachers comprehend and respond to problematic school situations such as motivation and disciplinary problems before and after more than half of the education was completed, different aspects of teacher socialization were identified. The students described how they thought their education had influenced them and what they had felt insecure about in their future profession.

Comparisons of the students’ descriptions show that there is usually some kind of alteration in how they evaluate and behave in the same school situations, before and after some years of education. An evident change is that their use of terminology alters during the education, this is expressed in a greater familiarity with the language of the profession. There are by other words some indications of a beginning of a »professional language».

The most striking difference in the description before and after education is that the spreading of the suggestions to solve the problems in the school situation has decreased. There is a noticeably higher regimentation of the students suggestions after the education compared to when the group started the education. This concerns above all the suggestions about the motivation problem. The significance of the student influence, the introduction of the lessons as well as the type of teaching was mentioned more often as means of change to solve the motivation problem after the education compared with before.

Comparisons between how the students interpreted the situations shows that suggestions and analysis has developed and deepened qualitatively, i.e. the descriptions were more detailed and pedagogical in some sense, during the education. It was expressed by a more frequent use of pedagogical concepts and pedagogical thinking.

The question concerning what the student felt insecure about when they thought about becoming teachers, was asked in the beginning of the education and after its completion. The answers were dominated by social psychological aspects concerning ways of dealing bullying and with acting out behaviour in an adequate way. This insecurity wasn’t however reduced in to any great extent during the education.

Not being liked and respected were other things which worried the students at both occasions. Contact with parents was not mentioned at all as a source of concern and insecurity when the students started the education, but during the course of education the insecurity increased concerning these contacts. Maybe it is first through the education they became aware teachers have to and have contact with the pupils parents, and this seemed frightening for many of the students. Few expressed worries of their own knowledge of their teaching subjects. The insecurity seems in many cases be something that is related to ones self-competence of facing other people.

When the students described how they regarded themselves being influenced by the education, it was mostly personal development, increased security and maturity that was pointed out, but also an increased social awareness and a changed view on knowledge. That is, besides aspects that are in harmony with the more overarching goals of teacher education, an interesting aspect that the students also mention in this context is that the professional pride has been strengthened during the course of education. The increased common approach and terminology that was noted in the situation descriptions, contributed probably also to an increased feeling of professional pride and identity as a teacher after some time of education.

In the results is described a series of indications suggesting that during the course of education something happens that contribute to teacher socialization. In this study there has also been a possibility to relate the identified socializating effects to the content or model specifically, or to the students experiences and background. That there occurs some kind of teacher socialization, depends most probably on a concurrence of the model of the education, and the background of the students, the conceptions and experience they have when they start the education.

It is of course impossible to distinguish a single factor of explanation. However, I am at the same time convinced of the education’s capacity to challenge the students’ concepts and to systematically confront them with different perspectives and point of views when it comes to what is occurring in the schools and the classrooms, and that the education also encourages them to question traditional so-called truths. These things constitute important contributions to the extensions which occur with regard to socialization in the education and how this socialization appears.

Annelis Jönsson, Department of Education, Malmö University, SE 205 06 Malmö, Sweden


pp 234-236

Guadalupe Francia, 1998: Can Islamic private schools be an instrument of equal education? /Islamiska skolor: En väg till likvärdig utbildning?/. Pedagogisk Forskning i Sverige, Vol 3, No 3, pp 192­210. Stockholm ISSN 1401-6788

During the years 1993­98 twenty two Islamic private schools received approval from the National Agency of Education. The Islamic schools are a new phenomena in the Swedish society that seems to make the conflicts within the claim of equality and the claim of freedom in the 1994s reform of the Swedish school deeper. This article reviews the conflicts of values between the Islamic schools, the National Agency of Education, the municipalities and the National Syllabi and Curriculum.

The study is based on a the analysis of the application forms presented to the National Agency of Education by all the approved Islamic private schools from June 2, 1993 to February 11, 1998. This analysis includes twenty two forms applying for the establishment of authorisation and the National Agency of Education’s and the municipalities’ pronouncements about these applications.

Six schools are stated to have general orientation. Only seven schools stated religious grounds. It is interesting to notice that three schools indicated Islamic orientation, but not religion. One school indicates both Islamic and Arabic orientation. Three stated only Arabic orientation and two others language and ethnic orientation. Nine schools are situated in the Stockholm area. Both Malmö and Göteborg have two schools each. Others municipalities were Uppsala (two), Linköpning (one), Örebro (two), Norrköping (two), Västerås (one) and Jönköping (one). Only six schools include years 7 to 9. Fifteen schools have years 1 to 6. Only one school has years 1 to 3 only. Eleven of the schools started during autumn 1998. It will be interesting to see if there will be a higher number of applications for establishment or whether 1998 will remain the top year.

The schools often indicated many reasons for establishment. All the applications sustain the reason to start as »to preserve, promote and reinforce the Islamic and Arabic culture heritage/identity and the Arabic language». There were no differences between schools that stated religious grounds and those that stated general or ethnic-language orientation. Knowledge of the Arabic language was stated by all the schools as a necessary condition to understand, preserve and promote the Islamic cultural heritage.

Eleven schools gave the following reason for establishment, »to integrate Muslim children in to the Swedish society», whilst four schools indicated, »to build the pupils double identity as Swedish and Muslim». Nine schools stated the will »to promote the pupils bilingualism». A small group of Islamic organisations have started schools in many municipalities. In some cases the same person is responsible for many of these schools.

In spite of municipal opposition to the establishment of Islamic schools (about 70% of applications), the National Agency of Education approved these schools. The most common reason of the municipalities’ opposition was that the Islamic schools increase segregation for Muslim pupils and produce the important negative consequences for the municipal schools. Teaching in physical education where children of the both sexes receive lessons together was a motive for conflict of values between the Swedish public school and the Muslim families. However, there is nothing in the syllabus of this subject that can be considered as a reason for conflict. The teaching of music such as rock, pop and love songs (sometimes all sort of music) was a motive for conflict between the beliefs and values of certain Muslim families and the Syllabus for music. The requisites of the curriculum to impart a general and objective knowledge was a reason for conflict to the Islamic schools that will only teach religion or sexual knowledge from the Islamic traditions.

There is a conflict between the mission of the school to preserve and promote the Islamic culture and the mission to integrate the Muslims pupils to the Swedish society. This conflict is evident in the dilemma to follow the Islamic rules and traditions and/or to follow the Swedish national syllabi. The approval of the National Agency of Education in spite of the opposition of the municipalities is a sign of a conflict between the desire to promote freedom of choice or the desire to promote equality among different educational authorities. This conflict may be an indication that the educational authorities were positive towards free choice but they were caught by surprise by the effects of the free choice as regards the Islamic schools. The conflict between the National Agency of Education and the municipalities can be interpreted in terms of the support for free choice discourse being stronger at the central level of educational authorities (National Agency of Education) than at the municipal level. However the free choice discourse has reached the family level for Muslim families that have put into practice their right to choose.

The large number of Islamic schools creates a deeper conflict between equality principles and freedom of choice in the 1994’s school reform. Such reform will both promote free choice and preserve the right to an equal education. The communisation and privatisation of the Swedish School through the system of compensatory transfer payments make the control of the claim of equal education difficult. The National Curriculum and the national Syllabi work as instruments to guarantee this equality. Therefore the conflict between the national syllabi and the Islamic schools own is an indication of the 1994s schools reforms’ contradictory attitude to education equality.

The text analysis of applications shows that the most important reason for establishing Islamic private schools is »the claim to preserve, promote and reinforce the Islamic and Arabic culture heritage». This is nowadays a claim for schools that are not said to be religious schools. It can be interpreted as a strong confessional orientation even in the Islamic schools which might be a consequence of the fact that Islam is not only a religion but even a culture and life system. A matter of research for the future can be to study whether there are any differences in the teaching practice between Islamic schools with religious orientations and those that said they did not have this orientation.

There are conflicts of values in the teaching of certain subjects. It will be therefore interesting to follow the teaching of music, religion, natural science, social science and physical education through observations of the classrooms practice.

The Muslim minority is only approximately 100.000­200.000 persons in Sweden, but the number of Islamic private school is important (22 schools). This high number can be an indication that public schools cannot satisfy the needs of this minority. The municipal schools are considered to be as a worse alternative for Muslim families. A future research is to see whether and how the Swedish public school can change to avoid loosing more Muslims pupils. How much of the educational content can be changed without coming in conflict with the Swedish curricula and syllabi? We must begin to discuss possibilities and limitations of multi-cultural education in the Swedish schools at the central, communal and school levels.

The analysis shows that very few Islamic organisations are responsible for most of applications for establishment. It will be interesting to study which Islamic groups are represented in these organisations. Can we consider the opening of many branches of one school by a few Islamic organisations as an strategy to implement a special type of Islamic political education?

Another future research can be to analyse the role of the National Agency of Education in the approval of these schools, in spite of the opposition of the municipal governments. We can understand the position of the National Agency of Education as regards these schools as a confirmation that the claim of freedom of choice is more important that the claim of equality. Another interpretation can be that the National Agency of Education was caught of by surprise by the large number of applications and did not have enough time to react to guarantee the claim of equality at the same time. The conflict between the National Agency of Education and the municipalities does not allow for a coherent educational policy in line with the National Curricula and Syllabi.

It is too soon to pronounce anything about the real consequences of segregation or integration of these schools. We must first analyse the academic and social achievements of their pupils during several years. An interesting research question could be to analyse the effect of the high expectations upon pupils results, their opportunities to offer a quieter class- and school environment and their possibilities to have a better communication with the Muslims families.

Guadalupe Francia, Department of Education, Stockholm University, SE 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden


pp 236-239

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