NAFOL profile: Andreas Reier Jensen

Social background and pedagogic discourses in teacher training practice

Andreas Reier JensenMy motivation for immersing myself in issues related to students’ social background and pedagogy is related to my work experience in the field of education over the last ten years. Since 2010 I have worked as an assistant professor in teacher education at the University of Agder. Before that I taught apprentices (I am initially a sea captain by profession), in nautical college education, in secondary schools and in prisons. These encounters with diverse groups of students have triggered my interest in how social structures in society reflect the pedagogical practices in schools. This can be linked to students’ alienation in education. The dropout rate in Norwegian schools is 30 %, and it is first manifested in high school. The weakest social group is overrepresented in the dropout statistics and the dropout rate can be related to students’ experience in primary school. A question of major importance for my PhD project is how primary education can include more learners in a reputable public school, without corrupting the schools´ liberal education for the benefit of short-term goals. The context of my project is therefore important. It is linked to the ongoing public discourse, which strongly argues for less theory and more professional content for vocational studies. Strong voices in this discourse want to dichotomize the end of the educational cycle into two courses (general and vocational), which by no means are equal. I base my work on the assumption that if teachers are made aware of their communication with pupils in elementary schools (which generally represent several social classes), the socially determined communication gap can be made smaller, so that more students succeed in school. With these students in mind, and focusing on inclusive and adapted education, I work with the following main research question: To what extent are children’s social backgrounds emphasized when didactics are transmitted from mentor teacher to student teacher?