Divergent Agendas Within the Danish School Policy and the Dilemmas This Creates for Teachers Working With Inclusive Education

Divergent Agendas Within the Danish School Policy and the Dilemmas This Creates for Teachers Working With Inclusive Education

Lotte Hedegaard-Soerensen (Universty of Aarhus, Denmark) and Bjørn Frithiof Hamre (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7703-4.ch015
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Abstract

This chapter reports on the dilemmas for teachers working with inclusive education in the Danish school system. Globally, schools, teachers, and students are confronted with tensions between the agendas of optimizing the academic skills of the students on the one hand, and the inclusive agenda of handling the diversity of a variety of different students in the classroom on the other hand. In Denmark, these agendas are reflected in the educational policies and they have formed a context for teachers' practice and for teacher education. In the chapter empirical research about inclusive education will be related to discussions about teacher education and inclusive practices in schools. Critical analysis of the influence of policy and the way policy influence practice seems to be a recommended research approach in future research on inclusion. This should be reflected in teacher education.
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Introduction

In this chapter, we argue that the current Danish school policy creates dilemmas for teachers working with inclusive education in the Danish school system. On a global scale, schools, teachers, and students are confronted with tensions between the agenda of optimizing the academic skills of the students on the one hand, and the inclusive agenda of handling the diversity of the students in the classroom on the other hand (Hamre 2018; Hamre, Morin & Ydesen 2018). In Denmark, these agendas are reflected in the educational policies of the welfare state during the last three decades (Hansen & Bjørnsrud 2018; Holloway & Hamre 2018), and according to empirical research on the practice of teaching, these policies are affecting teachers working with inclusive education (Hedegaard-Sørensen & Penthin Grumloese, 2018). Analyzing how these dilemmas in the educational policies affect the intentions of inclusive education calls for new conceptualizations in the interpretation of teachers’ practice. We argue that the concept ‘situated professionalism’ (Hedegaard-Sørensen, 2013) offers a conceptualization that allows us to analyze the current problematics and their consequences for teachers’ practice in new ways. Furthermore, we suggest how these insights can inform the development of teacher education.

The chapter draws on two different empirical studies. Primarily, the chapter builds on the study ‘Teachers’ professionalism, Inclusion and Differentiation’ (Hedegaard-Sørensen & Penthin Grumloese, 2016, 2018). The study is an empirical case study focusing on the practice of teaching, and how this is performed in times of neoliberal school policies, and it sheds light on the downside of these policies. The overall findings are that neoliberal educational policies – in which the educational system becomes an instrument for the development of effective employees in a flexible labor market – have influenced the way in which teachers practice their teaching. Furthermore, the chapter elaborates on how reforms in Danish teacher education are aligned with neoliberal school policies, and how this leads to an emphasis in the syllabus on subject teaching rather than on inclusive education. This part of the chapter draws on a study on teacher education and inclusive/special education (Hedegaard-Sørensen & Tetler, 2014). The study focused on the syllabus in the teacher education programs in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Canada and analyzed how the programs prioritized inclusive education, subject teaching, and pedagogies.

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