Volume 1, No.3, September 2010
Education Inquiry is a new international online, peer-reviewed journal with free access in the field of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education. It is published by the Umeå School of Education, Umeå University, Sweden and is issued four times per year (March, June, September, December). Education Inquiry can be downloaded in full extent as well as selected articles.
This issue of Education Inquiry contains six articles. Antti Räsänen examines religiousness among Finnish youngsters in “Teenage Religion – religiousness among Finnish 8th and 9th graders”. It is explored using the RJT, an instrument developed on the basis of religious judgment theory. The frame of reference processes teenage religiousness and Oser’s theory. The research data are based on a survey in which 617 adolescents from four different localities participated. In line with the theory of religious judgment five sum variables are composed to describe religiousness. The results prove a low level of religiousness in adolescence, some gender differences and associations between age and religiousness. The effect of religious upbringing in the home was greater than the effect of school religious education.
In “How the Teacher’s Practical Theory Moves to Teaching Practice. A Literature Review and Conclusions”, Harri Pitkäniemi analyses the relationships between teachers’ static cognition (practical theory, script), dynamic cognition (agenda, interactive thinking) and teaching practice. The study poses the following question: How is a teacher’s practical theory – which is partly also founded on educational theory – realised in teaching practice? Earlier empirical studies on the subject largely have an analytical orientation, i.e., only a few aspects of thise comprehensive phenomenon have been researched. Existing research carried out between 1980 and 2009 shows that the relationship between a teacher’s cognition and his/her teaching practice is not a simple one: the basis of all teacher cognition – practical theory – transforms interactively in classroom processes. The more complex the conflict between the curricular objective and pupils’ actions in a teaching situation, the more essential it is for the teacher to employ dynamic cognitions in order to realise his/her practical theory.
In “Rerouting: Discipline, Assessment and Performativity in Contemporary Swedish Educational Discourse” Joakim Larsson, Annica Löfdahl and Hector Pérez Prieto identify two emerging themes as Sweden drew nearer to the 2006 national election: a concern for order and discipline in schools, and the ambition to raise educational levels of achievement. The objective of this article is to locate these two themes within a broader framework of understanding by: 1) discussing examples of how the reinforcement of disciplinary power in schools was introduced, justified and deployed by right-wing constellations during this time; and 2) to relate these policy changes to both a Foucauldian theory of power and to current discussions on performativity, assessment and governmentality. Considered as attempts to locate students, teachers and schools within networks of performativity, thereby strengthening the image of Sweden as a “performing knowledge nation”, they argue that these policy changes have a much closer relationship with the art of “perception management” than with any genuine interest in education for human proficiency.
Birgit Andersson analyses in “Introducing assessment into Swedish leisure-time centres – pedagogues’ attitudes and practices” the findings of a survey exploring Swedish leisure-time pedagogues’ experiences of assessment in school and leisure-time centres. Her article aims to boost knowledge of how assessment, as a prominent example of changed education governance, is entering the work of leisure-time pedagogues and how they it is perceived by them. It is concluded that leisure-time pedagogues often assess the development of children’s social competencies, activities in their centre and the leisure-time pedagogues’ own contributions. Possible explanations of why these assessments are mainly based on informal observations without any documentation are discussed, as are the leisure-time pedagogues’ ambiguous attitudes to them.
In “The role of the home environment in phonological awareness and reading and writing ability in Tanzanian primary schoolchildren ” Damaris Ngorosho and Ulla Lahtinen focus on the role of the home environment in children’s development of literacy skills. The study examines thise relationship in a sample of 75 grade two children from rural eastern Tanzania. It also discusses the role of house building material and domestic facilities, in addition to parents’ education and occupation, in describing socioeconomic status in developing countries in general, and in the current study. Most of the factors were significantly (ANOVA) related to phonological awareness and reading and writing. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis identified fathers’ education and mothers’ occupation as strong predictors. The home environment variables accounted for 25% of the variance in phonological awareness and 19% in reading and writing ability. Early screening and support of children in the risk zone of becoming poor readers are proposed. Activities like children’s book projects and school library facilities are suggested, aim at supporting literacy-related activities in low capacity homes.
Finally, in“Questioning the parental right to educational authority – arguments for a pluralist public education system” Tomas Englund, raises the issue what the principle of a parental right to educational authority could mean for democracy in the long run? Taking three models of educational authority as its starting point, the article questions the current permissive attitude to a parental right in this area. It does so in the light of the shortcomings of such a right with regard to pluralism in education for each child and development towards a democracy with deliberative qualities, which is used here as a normative point of reference. The article develops three arguments for a common pluralist public education system for the public good and analyses different ways in which the parental right to educational authority has been legitimised as a basis for creating independent schools. It also highlights the neglect of the role of political socialisation in political philosophy, while pondering whether it is possible to create a deliberative democracy without future citizens growing into a deliberative culture, with schools serving as the crucial intermediate institution.