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Action Competence - a private matter?
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, School Based Research, Sustainable Development and Science education.
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, School Based Research, Sustainable Development and Science education.
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, School Based Research, Sustainable Development and Science education.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0117-2974
2014 (English)Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Research on environmental education and education for sustainable development is an expanding field in educational research in Europe, as well as worldwide. With EERA celebrating 20 year, and the Decade for Education on Sustainable Development (DESD) in its final year, it is possible to make a halt for discussions of the present with perspectives of both the past and the future. Based on empirical findings on Eco-School teachers’ and instructors’ views on the appropriateness of including different sustainability-promoting actions in their teaching practices, this paper will discuss actions in relation to the Action Competence perspective, and tensions that manifests in educational settings between educational ideals of socialisation and educational ideas of liberal autonomy (Bildung), as well as, what is seen as private matter and what it is seen as part of the educational commission.

From the perspective of Action Competence, and the educational ideal of Bildung, it has been claimed, as one of the dominating standpoints in the academic ESD-debate concerning the purpose of sustainability-promoting actions in education, that the actions are there, not to solve the unsustainability problems in the world, but to educate the students. The importance in ESD of learning critical decision taking in choices of actions as a citizen in a democratic society, nationally and globally has been stressed. The study is based on the premise that the inclusion of actions in teaching practices depends on teachers’ choices of lecturing, which to some degree is in turn dependent on their experience during teacher training, and explores Eco-School teachers’ and instructors’ views on the appropriateness of including different sustainability-promoting actions in teaching. As the importance of action for sustainability is highlighted in the Eco-Schools’ curricula, there are incitements for teachers at Eco-Schools to consider the inclusion of different sustainability-promoting actions in their teaching, either in terms of information and discussions about possible actions or in terms of student participation in actions.

However, critique has been raised from the perspective of the need for education not to neglect the urgency of solving sustainability issues. Also, the Action Competence perspective, although based on a Bildung perspective, has been criticised for being just another form of socialisation. In addition to this, the liberal ideal of autonomy has been questioned.

This paper will discuss how Eco-School teachers and instructors relate to different forms of actions, indirect/direct and individual/collective, that may take part in the private or the public sphere and be seen as personal or political. In relation to this, the Action Competence perspective will be discussed in perspectives of the present, past and future and the tensions that manifests in educational settings between educational ideals of socialisation and educational ideals of liberal autonomy (Bildung), as well as, what is seen as private matter and what it is seen as part of the educational commission.

Method

Interviews with 24 Eco-School teachers at a dozen schools in southern Sweden, from pre-school to upper secondary school, and 9 Eco-School instructors employed by the Green Flag organisation at different locations in Sweden, were conducted based on a semi-structured interview protocol. Informants were asked to grade from 1-6 the appropriateness of 16 different sustainability-promoting actions to include in their teaching practices. The actions were chosen to grasp a diversity in types of actions, as well as motives for preferences for specific actions in teaching. More than 20 hours of interviews were transcribed verbatim, and were analysed with a mixed method approach including both quantitative and qualitative analyses. Mathematical and statistical analyses were made in Excel and SPSS for the groups of teachers and instructors respectively, and as a comparison between the two groups. A qualitative content analysis was made (in Nvivo) on the informants reasoning when justifying their ratings of each of the sustainability-promoting actions from the question: ‘What do the teachers refer to when they justify their positions?

Expected Outcomes

Preliminary results show that different direct actions, and actions which take place in the private sphere were viewed by Eco-School teachers and instructors as the most appropriate actions to include in teaching practices. However, actions related to individuals as consumers were seen by teachers as less appropriate than by the instructors, and have consequently been included less in teaching practices. The actions that were deemed least appropriate by both groups were two indirect actions occurring in the public sphere and aiming at solutions on a structural level, engaging with political parties and engaging with NGOs. They did not seem to have a repertoire of teaching approaches that would allow them to work with issues where social norms diverge strongly. This paper will discuss how Eco-School teachers and instructors relate to different forms of actions, indirect/direct and individual/collective, that may take part in the private or the public sphere and be seen as personal or political. In relation to this, the Action Competence perspective will be discussed in perspectives of the present, past and future and the tensions that manifests in educational settings between educational ideals of socialisation and educational ideas of liberal autonomy (Bildung), as well as, what is seen as private matter and what it is seen as part of the educational commission.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25605OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-25605DiVA: diva2:779697
Conference
Presented at ECER 2014, The Past, the Present and the Future of Educational Research, University of Porto, Portugal, September 1-5, 2014.
Available from: 2015-01-13 Created: 2015-01-13 Last updated: 2017-02-13Bibliographically approved

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