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Norway and Finland have achieved remarkably different results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which has gained intense attention in popular educational debates. In this article we explore how teachers from two large cities in Norway and Finland experienced the opinion climate on education in 2009. When investigating national images we interviewed teachers working in schools located in both low and high status urban areas. Our focus-group and individual interviews suggest that our informants recognise the national opinion climates on education (Norwegian crisis; Finnish success), but that perceptions vary according to school location. We conclude by suggesting four hypotheses for future research.
This article tries to understand and interpret the reasons behind the marked decline in the TIMSS Advanced physics achievement test for students taking advanced physics courses at secondary school level in Norway and Sweden. Since it is not easy to identify a single reason that might have caused this decline, an attempt is made to explore possible influences by examining in a systematic way, changes in all contextual and background variables, as well as their co-variations with achievement scores. The results presented here offer a comprehensive view of the situation, and it is argued that a lack of focus on the basic subject skills in the lower grades combined with poor mathematical prerequisites might be seen as the major factors behind the marked decline in physics achievements for the two countries.
The scientific researcher neither proceeds according to rules nor makes a way blindly but, moving within the aura of an idea, gropes along meanings that are immediately felt. Ideas have their own “feel”. This is one of John Dewey’s central tenets about scientific work and is easily reconciled with the view that scientific experience has aesthetic quality. However, Dewey’s theory of meaning, his distinction between expression and statement, threatens the very concept of scientific experience. The distinction does not only promote an instrumentalist understanding of science but undermines a sound understanding of the media which constitute the educational experience. This article examines this problem and proposes a solution. (Which one?)
The research task of the project was to refine our knowledge: a) whether pupil participation according to the theory can predict learning process and outcomes, and b) what are the factors which interactively support or make it difficult to participate and therefore to learn in a classroom situation? The purpose was to trace the sequence of learning processes in the three selected eleven-year-old pupils that clearly represented a variety of levels in cognitive classroom learning. The data collecting process to be designed accordingly contains the following steps: prior knowledge (before teaching), the immediate learning product after a lesson, after two days, and after six to seven weeks. The empirical data show that pupils are engaged in classroom learning and therefore they actually do learn when they try to search actively for prior knowledge in their long-term memory, have a strong volition to study in individual situations, and reflect critical thinking in regard to their own study process.
Research on parent involvement has focused on such issues as power, dialogue and the reproduction of social differences, while descriptions of teachers and parents and their conversations in historical legislative texts have not received a great deal of attention. The analytical focus of Koselleck’s conceptual theory enables me to make a contribution to this field through my analysis of the object clauses and the changing descriptions of conversations, including the different perspectives of teachers and parents. I demonstrate how the description of the teacher’s role today is blurred and subject to cross-pressure, and how both inside and outside perspectives affect the roles of teachers and parents and their conversations.
This article analyzes how knowledge is organized in two different teacher education programs: one research-based program and one general professional program. Two curricula (one Finnish and one Norwegian) are analyzed and compared using Basil Bernstein’s concepts of horizontal and hierarchical organized knowledge structures as well as classification and framing of knowledge. The analysis reveals considerable differences in the programs’ knowledge relations and their professional implications. It is argued that the transition from a general professional program to a research-based program, as currently proposed in Norway, is more complex than changing the curriculum text. It calls for a rethinking of deep-seated issues in the wider educational context.
This article presents the general situation for pupils in need of special support (PNSS) in Swedish independent compulsory schools. The analysis is based on a survey of all independent schools in Sweden. The results show that the number of PNSS is lower in independent schools than in municipal schools and that a deficit perspective seems to be common regarding explanations for school problems. There is, however, great diversity among the schools. The conclusions are that school choice as a challenge to the traditional way of conceiving education seems to be more effective for some other groups of pupils than for PNSS and that there are few signs that independent schools challenge traditions in work with PNSS.
Digital technology has become part of children’s activity, but «How do inclusion and exclusion appear in children’s interaction by the computer, and how is this process interpreted by the pedagogues?» Based on socio cultural perspectives on development of knowledge the results are interpreted within pragmatism as a philosophical orientation. The qualitative data material is constructed in the course of an eight months’ micro-ethnographic fieldwork period in three Norwegian kindergartens. The main findings indicate that control seems to be important in children’s world, also where digital technology is part of the activity, and that the pedagogues need to further develop their didactic competencies in this field in order to be able to take an active and constructive part in these activities together with the children.
In a qualitative study of pre-planned and organized writing activities involving five-year-olds in two Norwegian day care centers, a specific preschool teacher practice was observed: the preschool teacher would visualize letters and words for the children; she would make appropriate writing materials available, but would refrain from giving the children an explicit writing task; she would comment on writing the children themselves initiated during the activity and she would open up for an atmosphere of humour. This article explores how this teacher practice can be found to support children’s opportunities for engaging with writing in different ways, demonstrating how children’s writing is embedded in institutional practice. The approach is to analyze an episode taken from one of the organized writing activities and two texts written by two five-year old girls during this activity. The article builds on a sociocultural perspective on learning and writing that highlights the value of scaffolding children’s learning to write, and applies Tharp and Gallimore’s category system of the means of assistance as well as van Manen’s ideas about the tact of teaching.
A comprehensive system including all youth education programmes was an integrated part of the social democratic driven welfare state in Norway and Sweden. Why was that not the case in Denmark? The Danish gymnasium was not modernized until very late, and when the reforms took place in 2005 and 2007, they were strongly inspired by neoliberal tendencies. This article asks why the Danish gymnasium never became part of a social democratic strategy for education as in Norway and Sweden. It answers the question by analyzing the differences, not the similarities, between the Nordic countries. The article emphasizes a Danish tradition for self-management combined with the continental European bildung tradition.
The purpose of this article is to examine parental influence and participation in respect of the support provided to children with disabilities who have individual plans (IP) in preschool. A theoretical approach based on “argumentative”, power-free and respectful communication is presented. Findings from interviews with participants in the IP teams of two preschool children indicate that the requirement for parents to prepare themselves for meetings poses a challenge. The need for respect and power neutrality is challenged when the municipality’s representative conveys private information about the families without their permission, and when professionals in the two cases fail to fulfill their professional responsibilities.