01 SES 11 A, Commitment and Professional Knowledge for Sustainable Change
This paper discusses the demand for knowledge-based practice and two different answers to this demand, namely evidence-based thinking and critical-political thinking. The paper discusses the implications these have for views on knowledge and professional development. The paper presents and discusses a research project that illustrates the critical-political approach.
Recent decades have seen an increased political demand for knowledge basing of the teaching profession (as well as other welfare-professions) in Europe. This development can be traced back a.o. to international educational policies of organizations such as the EU and OECD that affect national educational policies. Some of these politics center around an increased focus on free mobility and global competition between knowledge economies. Global competition, especially, has been used as an argument for the need for increased effectiveness of the welfare state, both in the shape of increased level of knowledge and in the shape of standardization and documentation of work in the educational sector. Standardized measurements become one way to determine whether specific measures work, and measurements are followed up by demands that teachers, schools, districts, or nations make decisions based on knowledge (or evidence) about, what methods and measures are effective (Ball 1998, Lingard et al. 2013, Brøgger 2016). In this way, ambitions about increased knowledge have been connected to and shaped by ambitions about increased effectiveness, standardization, and governance.
There are different understandings of what might constitute a response to the demand for knowledge basing of the teacher profession. One dominant, international response is evidence-based thinking. The paper discusses some of the understandings of knowledge and research that evidence-based thinking draws on, e.g. neutrality, objectivity, and generalizability. Further, it discusses what understanding of education this kind of thinking evokes and makes possible, and what implications it has for the role of professionals in knowledge-production processes.
The paper argues for a different approach to knowledge basing the teacher profession, namely one that draws on critical educational research and action research. Both of these theoretical frameworks point to an understanding of educational processes as complex social processes shaped by power relations, identity, and ideologies of knowledge, and to an understanding of education as characterized by a tension between repression, reproduction, and empowerment. In this sense, they point to an understanding of education as fundamentally political. Further, both of these frameworks point to an understanding of teachers as active producers of knowledge and as ‘politicians’ (Freire 2005) who engage in the political process of education. This has implications for the view on professional development
The paper presents a research project that illustrates this approach to knowledge-based practice and professional development and discusses some central implications for professional development. The project is an action-research project that is based in Red Cross’ Pedagogical Unit (PU) in Denmark. The Pedagogical Unit comprises schools, pre-schools, and after-school institutions in Danish asylum centers, and project participants are teachers and pedagogues who work in these institutions. The aim of the project is to develop (or strengthen) ‘asylum pedagogics’, i.e. a shared framework for education and care that accommodates for the special needs of asylum-seeking children and young people, and that reflects the working conditions of the professionals in these institutions. The need for asylum pedagogics stems both from external demands that Red Cross document the quality of their work and from internal needs for increased educational professionalism that responds to the specific context including a shared framework that mirrors the organizational values and identity of Red Cross. The project terminates July 2017.
 The project is conducted by Jan Kampmann, Fina F. Vilholm and myself, and is based in Roskilde University and University College UCC.
Ball, Stephen J. (1998) Big Policies/Small World: An introduction to international perspectives in education policy, Comparative Education, 34:2, 119-130, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03050069828225 Brøgger, Katja (2016): Du skal ville det, du skal. Om de videregående uddannelsers nye tilskyndelsesøkonomi. [You have to want what you must. On continuing educations’ new economy of encouragement.] S. 87-99 i: Dansk Pædagogisk Tidsskrift, nr. 2/2016. Freire, Paulo (2005): Teachers as Cultural Workers. Letters to Those Who Dare Teach. Westview Press, Boulder. Lingard, Bob, Wayne Martino & Goli Rezai-Rashti (2013): Testing regimes, accountabilities and education policy: commensurate global and national developments. S. 539-556 i: Journal of Education Policy, 28:5, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2013.820042 Nielsen, Kurt Aagaard & Birger Steen Nielsen (2006): Methodologies in Action Research. I: Nielsen, Kurt Aagaard & Lennart Svensson (red.): Action Research and Interactive Research. Beyond Practice and Theory. Shaker Publishing, Maastricht.
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