SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011
School ethnographies: inside and beyond schooling
Location Block 2, Piso 1, Room 43
Date and Start Time 19 Apr, 2011 at 11:30
Children all around the world are defined as being in or out of school. This panel on school ethnographies examines the experiences, conditions and construction of identities of various groups of children, as well as their transformation, destruction and use of space inside and beyond schooling.
Children all around the world are defined as being in or out of school. Their conditions and experiences vary greatly. The performative, cultural and artistic aspects of teaching and the uses of rituals, films and television are examined, as well as the related experiences and understandings. Who has the power to define what accounts as an appropriate education and what methods are acceptable? How do children travel to school and back home, and how are relations created on the move? Why and how do students create, use, avoid, transform or destruct spaces within and out of school? How are identities constructed in new contexts and spaces, and how do groups of children, such as third culture kids, Koran school students, migrant children and others, deal with notions of place, belonging and ethnicity.
3 sessions 4/4/5.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Die Schultüte als Mythos: ethnographic perspectives on starting school in Germany and its implication for the shaping of school spaces
The paper presents an ethnographic study of narratives and practices around starting school in Germany in comparison to other countries. It discusses a specific ritual that symbolises becoming a pupil and investigates how membership of school is being created and how this changes actors and spaces.
There is an ongoing and increasing debate worldwide over the best time to start formal education and on how to deal with the transition from a play-based learning to the foundation stage of a formal curriculum. Modern societies vary in their answers to these questions. International studies mostly focus on structural and outcome-based aspects but neglect the specific cultural narrative that is being told and performed when starting school.
The paper presents an ethnographic study of such narratives and practices in Germany in comparison to other countries. It discusses a specific ritual, a cone filled with sweets, which symbolises becoming a pupil. It looks at the processes in how membership of school is being created and how this changes actors and spaces. Photographs and a short film will be shown to investigate two dimensions, a vertical and a horizontal. Firstly the ritual divides biographical phases (before school and school) and spaces of childhood (preschool and school). It creates a community of the same by telling a myth about maturity. Secondly we refer to Luhmann's assumption that each child is equal at the moment of school entry, which is the prerequisite for institutional selection based on the myth of talent and performance. We will show the implications of the ritual "Schultüte" for this selection process and how this shapes school as a space in a specific "German" way.
Koran schools in West Africa: education or child trafficking?
Global institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) classify the begging of Koran schools students on the streets of Dakar and other cities in Senegal as child trafficking. This paper examines the power struggle between global institutions, NGOs, civil society, state authorities, religious leaders and local communities to define what accounts as an acceptable education of children and act accordingly.
Global institutions and non-governmental organizations in West Africa aim to counteract child trafficking and repatriate trafficked victims in the region. Muslim Bissau-Guinean boys, called almudus in Fula and talibés in Woolof, can be found in thousands begging on the streets of Dakar, the capital of Senegal, and other larger towns in the country. These boys are students who attend Koran schools and beg on behalf of their teachers, called marabouts. International organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Guinea-Bissau and Senegal classify the phenomenon as child trafficking. The begging boys in rags can be seen on mass media, such as television and the web, and reports about their cruel treatment and suffering are told. Happy accounts of a successful rescue and repatriation can also be found, however at times including comments on the disappointment of parents when their children are sent back home. The parents, as well as many common citizens, find it offensive that the very same term, i.e., trafficking, is used when referring to their efforts to educate their children and for illegal trade in drugs. Still, some maintain that one of the motives behind the so-called anti-trafficking activities, including repatriation, is to eliminate Islam. The aim of this paper is to examine the power struggle between global institutions, NGOs, civil society, state authorities, religious leaders and local communities to define what accounts as an acceptable education of children and act accordingly.
Political, historical, and social contributions towards models of Islamic religious education in Germany: a comparative case study of Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia
This research compares the implementation of Islamic education in German public schools by examining the Islamic education models and differences that have framed them across states, the evolution of these models, and the relationship between observed changes and the efficacy of the approach.
Today, struggles between the inclusion of Germany's four million Muslim residents and the secular political and social majority are a recurring theme of daily newspaper articles, state and national political discourse, and subtle everyday incidents in schools and on the street. Nationally, the Federal German Islam Conference, created in 2006, has facilitated dialogue among German officials and Islamic representatives at the national level. Recent state legislation has further focused on Islamic religious education, which, according to the 2001 Federal Independent Immigration Commission, allows Muslim children to emerge as "participants on equal terms in social, economic, cultural, and political life." Therefore, understanding the political openness to and public availability of Islamic education is essential to examining integration of Muslim minorities and the broader understanding Islam within German society. To contribute to this understanding of Islam in Germany, I compare Islamic education adopted in Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia, in terms of: (1) The relationship between Islamic education legislation and regional political, historical, and cultural differences in each state; (2) whether the goals and methods of implementing religious instruction have changed since 1998 to focus more on the inclusion of Muslim students; and (3) the correlation, if any, between recent changes in religious instruction and the reform of German schools and increased perceptions of inclusion among Muslim students. This research recognizes that public education is essential to promoting fuller participation in any modern civil society and remains a central aspect of Germany's increasing focus on promoting the inclusion of Muslim minorities.
The performative dimension of educational practice: an ethnographical research
This text discusses the performative dimension of educational practice. It departs from the supposition that teaching taken as performance can create a qualitatively distinct room for knowledge, creative, for the germination of meanings, since aesthetic.
Is teaching a performance? What meanings of performance could be attributed to pedagogical and educational practices? Does teaching refer to a cultural or to an artistic performance? Does performance predict a form of pedagogy? These and other questions constitute the motto of an ethnographical and philosophical investigation on the potentialities of performance in education - specially in the pedagogical practice. Indeed, this research does not deal only with verifying the performative configurations of education, but rather with starting a discussion on the dimensions of the experience triggered by it. As we can see, performance irradiates reflectivity, its critical dimension asks for the consistence of experience itself, of particular experiences that are re-dimensioned and generalizable; performance certainly constitutes a territory for the magnetization and reflection of meanings, given (by sensation) and produced (by culture); it creatively reshapes spaces, times, and identities. It is decidedly in this chain of experience and thought that is established a realm in which experience takes shape. This realm is the aesthetic one. By taking shelter in experience, performance is directed to the materialization of its expression, of what can be understood that performance reintegrates to meaning (produced) its original sense (given). Furthermore, this study is oriented, on the one hand, by contributions from Performance Studies, specially by Victor Turner and Richard Schechner, and on the other hand, by speculations around the performative pedagogy of Charles Garoian, Elyse Pineau, and Bryant Alexander.
'This is no jungle, you know': a middle-aged female researcher in the world of teenage schoolboys
The paper will focus on the relationship between a researcher and her research group in a school space where inclusion and exclusion processes can be seen to reflect not only to the research theme but also to the research process itself.
In September 2009 I started my fieldwork in an upper level of a comprehensive school in Helsinki, Finland. My aim is to study the different youth cultures and the way they are represented in youth's everyday actions in one school. I also want to understand the way the different kinds of differences are produced and experienced in the social relations. In my research group there are students from an 'ordinary' class but also students who have just moved to Finland and students with learning disabilities.
While doing fieldwork over different kinds of differences I have also faced the fact that I as a researcher am seen as 'different': like some of the students, also I have been included to and excluded from the social school space. The different groups in my research team have also meant that I have had to think over how to connect with them and to actually make them to be heard in the research. Thus trying to connect to the research environment has raised questions dealing with methods and research ethics.
In my paper I would like to analyse my fieldwork process focusing on the relationship between the researcher and the individuals taking part in the research. I would like to discuss the situations in the fieldwork process I did not anticipate beforehand and the way I have - or have not - found creative solutions for them.
The student-teacher relationship: "teen voices"
Departing from a thematic analysis of weblogs, we would like to discuss in this paper how the adolescents perceive in these situated and personal narratives, their relationship with teachers.
Family and school are two of the most significant contexts in which adolescents grow and develop. Within schools spaces, the peers but also the teachers play a prominent role in adolescents' lives. A significant body of research indicates that teachers not only hold a privileged position in intergenerational exchange between adults and adolescents but also that the students' involvement in school, their behaviour, motivation and academic achievement is influenced by the quality of the student-teacher relationship.
Departing from a thematic analysis of weblogs, we would like to discuss in this paper how early and middle adolescents perceive their relationship with teachers. Additionally, we would like to contrast these "teen voices" with the evidence collected from the educational literature with respect to the student-teacher relationship.
Finally, reflecting on how this relationship is shaped and what determines its quality we would also like to highlight potential lessons extract from these web-based narratives that could improve teachers' practices and foster more supportive relationships.
"I was born here! I'm fully German! Yes, I attend the Portuguese classes. And so what?"
With major migrant groups being in focus of migration policies in Germany, smaller groups like the Portuguese lack visibility. What´s the social, educational and political importance of mother language/culture classes for children and grown ups of this migrant communtity and for society at large?
This paper will present results from an ongoing ethnographic anthropological study with Portuguese children in Germany. The research setting here in focus is the mother language/culture classes children attend once a week. Differently than what happens with migrant major groups, the number of Portuguese children attending these classes is not high enough to be integrated in regular school curriculum. As a result, Portuguese as mother language/culture classes happens in hosting schools, after regular school time, gathering children from different schools and cities. Some of the classes are offered, organized and payed by German education institutions, others by Portuguese ones. In either cases, they constitute a meeting point for children and families of this community (other lusophones included), in which roots, memories, language, senses of belonging and ethnic identity flow, though perhaps having unequal meanings for children and for their parents, or for different migrant generations, social contexts of origin and/or of integration in the host society.
With major migrant groups being in focus of migration policies in Germany, smaller groups like the Portuguese lack visibility and their cultural particularities have less chance to be considered. Besides that, the situation of Portuguese children do not seem to fit in the profile focused on most migrant children studies in this country, nor in Europe as well. Under these circunstances and actual integration debate, and considering aspects of ethnicity and transnationalism, what´s the social, educational and political importance of these classes, for this small migrant communtity and for society at large?
School transport, space and identities
Experiences of being, or having been, a school transport child is higlighted in this presentation. Our ambition is to highlight and discuss the continuous and contemporary construction of places and situated identities.
Every day hundreds of thousands of children in Sweden are transported to and from school by bus, train, taxi, boat - not mentioning all children driven to school by their parents in different cooperative arrangements. Due to changes in society and the educational system new forms of school transports are developing and new groups of users are transported between varying social and cultural areas, bringing along radical challenges for the school.
During this daily transport social relations and borders are constructed, maintained and crossed. Different places - home, vehicle and school - takes shape and are transformed with specific and varying social and cultural meanings. During the mobility children take up and are given different positions, relate to each other, develop peer cultures and negotiate what is possible and not possible to do in this ongoing process where spaces, identities and narratives are constructed and transformed.
The presentation is part of an ongoing research project about the changing school transport in Sweden, what kind of school transport are used, by which groups of families to what kind of schools and its meaning both for the children and society in keeping and crossing social and ethnic segregation.
In this presentation our starting point is the experience of being, or having been, a school transport child. Experiences from children and adults of different ages are told through interviews. By using a narrative approach, our ambition is to highlight and discuss the continuous and contemporary construction of places and situated identities.
The skateboarder's way of creating space: spatial perception, occupance and performance in school and non-scholastic settings
I will focus on the educational practice in schools in contrast to non-scholastic settings. The emphasis lies on the comparison between cultural practices of the skater scene and the educational system.
Skateboarding is a very demanding and creative physical activity which goes along with a great deal of self-discipline and self-motivation. In addition, creative adoption of everyday-environment and symbolic space order as well as further altered spatial practices can be observed. However, the scholastic setting does not allow a lot of room for these reinterpretations. The comparison between skater scene and scholastic education setting in specific reveals enormous differences in terms of techniques concerning spatial perception, spatial occupance and spatial performance. While skaters "switch" as "mobile residents" through spaces and realities and therefore experience their environment as "urban nomads", the scholastic setting is predominated by the ideal of a sedentary book culture.
What happens when these differing worlds of experience meet and how do the adolescents on the one hand and the institution school on the other hand handles this clash? The term "urban competence" and the abilities associated with this term play a big part during the speed- and attention-based activity that is skateboarding. In how far does this affect scholastic learning? Are there any consequential effects or are the concerning adolescents and their scene-specific techniques of spatial perception, spatial occupance and spatial performance problematized? In order to detect and understand possible potentialities, those scene-specific room techniques shall be revealed and analyzed.
The following qualitative research methods will be utilized:
1. Interpretation of ethnographic-focused observation listings.
2. Interpretation of group discussions with adolescents from the skater scene.
First research results will be presented during the lecture.
Claiming space - feeling safe? Children's and young people's use and perception of urban green and open spaces
Green and open spaces in residential neighbourhoods are important places for children and young people. Being able to play and hang out outdoors is crucial both for children’s physical health and mental and social development. However, urban space is also often seen as dangerous to children and young people, as something they need to be protected from because of traffic and crime. Despite these restrictions, children and young people continue to use urban space. By discussing relevant literature and illustrating with empirical results, this paper discusses how children and young people promote safety in urban space. The point I am making in this paper is that children and young people who actively use space in their everyday life and in this way make it their own are less fearful and more spatially confident.
Green and open spaces in residential neighbourhoods are important places for children and young people. Being able to play and hang out outdoors is crucial both for children's physical health and mental and social development. However, urban space is also often seen as dangerous to children and young people, as something they need to be protected from because of traffic and crime. Despite these restrictions, children and young people continue to use urban space. By discussing relevant literature and illustrating with empirical results, this paper discusses how children and young people promote safety in urban space. The point I am making in this paper is that children and young people who actively use space in their everyday life and in this way make it their own are less fearful and more spatially confident.
(School) vandalism: spatial practices between destruction and transformation
Vandalism or rather signs of vandalistic practices such as graffiti and broken furniture, are omnipresent at (respectively in) schools and other public buildings or places. The aim of this dissertation is the reconstruction of structures of meaning of vandalism as an expressive practice.
Vandalism in itself is illegal, whether as a willful damage or defacement of property, as a political statement or a part of modern popular art (as long as there are no official permissions or assignments, of course), and it plays a predominant role in German crime statistics. Especially schools and other public institutions complain about an increase of vandalistic practices like graffiti on walls and tables or the destruction of parts of the building (broken windows, destructed toilets etc). There are different ways of handling these 'expressive spatial practices', for instance closing off buildings with fences and walls or intensifying the monitoring by installing (more) observation cameras. But in order to work out efficient strategies against vandalism it is necessary to know the reasons for such vandalistic practices. There are well-differentiated and useful psychological and pedagogic models and theories to explain vandalistic behavior of adolescents (e.g. theories of deviance) but the (latent) structure of meaning of vandalism has not yet been sufficiently explored. These (latent) structures of meaning are to be analyzed with the help of the following three research methods:
1. the image reconstruction method by Max Imdahl to analyze photos and pictures of vandalism,
2. reconstructed group discussions by the documentary method by Ralf Bohnsack to analyze collective orientation patterns and
3. expert interviews with third parties like police officers or social education workers to analyze experiences concerning vandalistic practices and their causes.
During this presentation first research results will be introduced.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.