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Looking at Democratic Intention and the Experienced Curriculum: Examples from Swedish and American Schools and Classrooms
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Research on Education and Learning within the Department of Teacher Education (FULL).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8757-926X
Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota, United States.
2009 (English)In: [Abstract Book], 2009, p. 43-43Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In the Nordic countries and in most western democracies, including the United States, there is a long and strong tradition of teaching aboutdemocracy. The “democratic assignment” for teachers and school leaders in the Swedish schools goes further than teaching about democracy. The Swedish intension is to encourage schools to become democratic organizations with students, teachers, school leaders and others in the school as participating members. We are interested in the relationship between the intention for and experience of democracy in schools. Our theoretical framework is an historical one emphasizing the importance of participatory democracy in school. America’s foremost educational philosopher, John Dewey, sees education as a necessity of social life (Dewey, 1996/1916). Most of the education writers who have addressed the broad purposes for schooling have arrived with Dewey at the conclusion that “...democracy is the most important among all the possible philosophical and political sources from which public school purpose can be derived” (Raywid, Tesconi & Warren, 1987, p. 16). We are persuaded that the term democracy – though subject to varied definitions and perceptions – best embodies the collected concepts, beliefs, and values of modern western culture that should comprise the processes and content of compulsory public schooling. We wonder, however, how much of the imperative of schooling for democracy actually resides in the conscious deliberations and intentional activities of educational practitioners. Furthermore, we are interested in the day-to-day experiences of students and teachers in relation to “participatory democracy”. Our research project is a qualitative inquiry into the perceptions of educators (school leaders, classroom teachers, and students) relative to the ideals of participatory democracy and an ethnographic description of student and teacher class experiences in selected schools and classrooms in the U.S. and Sweden. We use interview methodologies to uncover perceptions and participant observation methods to explore classroom experiences. Our intention is not to draw general conclusions about or make specific comparisons among schools or school systems in participant countries, but rather to try to better understand the relationship between intention and experience in selected environments. We hope our research will enable educators to look at their own schools in light of the democratic assignment in an effort to improve practices leading to more democratic schools and eventually more democratic, just, and peaceful societies. We think our research is relevant today because developing the scientific knowledge base of education in the Nordic countries is not a process going on in isolation from researchers from other countries. We have found that the cooperation between one researcher from Sweden and another from the United States can bring improved perspectives and deeper understanding of schools, their purpose, and the experiences those schools provide for all their constituents.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. p. 43-43
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-21074OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-21074DiVA, id: diva2:587790
Conference
The 37th Annual Congress of the Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA), Trondheim, Norway, 5-7 March, 2009
Available from: 2013-01-15 Created: 2013-01-15 Last updated: 2015-08-21Bibliographically approved

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Eklund, Monica

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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More styles
Language
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  • en-US
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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