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Highlighting indirect functions: implications of using an ecological understanding for exploring safe educational environments
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Educational sciences. (STORIES)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1871-4488
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Educational sciences. (STORIES)
2015 (English)In: Abstract book, 2015, 10-10 p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

From an ecological whole-school perspective different parts of the educational environment are viewed as in constant relation to others. This means that everyone involved condition, and are conditioned by, each other’s actions in multiple continuous processes. If one function fails the consequences affects others who share their environment. The purpose of this presentation is to use an ecological approach to understand ways in which staff who is only indirectly involved in education can contribute to the educational environment. In discussions of educational environments the teachers, students and content often take center stage. Hansen’s examination of Dewey’s educative environment focuses on the classroom, however, education is underpinned by indirect functions such as care takers, cleaners and canteen staff that facilitate students’ educational experiences by attending to students’ need of nutrition and a clean and safe school environment. Dewey argued that the environment consists of relevant features for the given situation, discriminating it from the surroundings that are irrelevant. Thus, the indirect functions cannot be viewed as surroundings, but constitute part of the educational environment albeit often overlooked or viewed as peripheral. As illustrated by a case study in a Swedish secondary school these staff members, by their presence alone as adults in the corridors and other places in the school, contributed to a safe environment. Moreover, at times they collaborated with other professions, as well as went beyond their intended functions, for the best of the students. For example, cleaners who witnessed bullying reported it to the teachers. The care takers took some students under their wings and asked them to help mend broken things around the school, thus providing them with meaningful relationships that strengthened the students’ bond with the school. However, the municipal management cut back on costs for care takers, despite protests from the principal, and the care takers were replaced by a weekly service visit operated centrally. This can be framed as an atomistic logic of schooling, disregarding the actual function of support staff in the educational environment. We argue that an ecological perspective can provide fruitful insights that can be used for promoting safe educational environments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. 10-10 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-19983OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-19983DiVA: diva2:839894
NERA 2015, Marketisation and Differentiation in Education, 4-6 March 2015, Gothenburg, Sweden
AFA Insurance, 110145
Available from: 2015-07-06 Created: 2015-07-06 Last updated: 2015-12-08Bibliographically approved

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Frelin, AnneliGrannäs, Jan
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