The Subjective Side of Success: Children's Stories of a Good Life

The Subjective Side of Success: Children's Stories of a Good Life

Heidi Johanna Layne (University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland), Edda Óskarsdóttir (University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland) and Hanna Niittymäki (Peace Education Institute, Helsinki, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/IJBIDE.2016010103
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Abstract

This paper presents a case study conducted in one elementary school in Helsinki, Finland, during a four-week project that began on the UN day of children's rights in 2013. According to the 12th and 13th articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), children have the right to express their views freely in all matters affecting them, and furthermore they have the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds (UNICEF, 1989). The authors argue that children's voices are not sufficiently heard in the process of forming the educational policies related to success at school. The data was collected from the children in the form of stories. The paper, co-written by the researchers and the teacher, draws lessons from the students' stories about the good life of an imagined person named Sofia Tammi. The aim of analysing the stories was to identify and describe children's aspirations and experiences, and especially how they defined success through the theme of ‘good life'. Furthermore, the authors explore the meaning of inclusion and justice in the Nordic context.
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Success And Justice Through The Voices Of Children

In this section we first aim to ground the discourses on success in the Finnish context since the study took place in a Finnish elementary school. Then we aim to introduce three ways of discussing success: personal, social and political.

Finnish policy analyst Pasi Sahlberg describes how, since the 1970s, Finland has changed its traditional education into publicly financed education system with extensive equity, good quality and wide participation (Sahlberg & Hargreaves, 2011). Rizvi and Engel (2009) claim that it is fair to say that neo-liberalism is concerned with issues of justice. They argue that the focus in such discourse is on equal access to education instead of deconstructing the structures within an education system (Rizvi & Engel, 2009, p. 529). We argue that equality and quality may become “taken for granted” values in the Nordic context if we do not research and discuss the meaning of such terms.

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