Investigating power in teaching and learning processes in the physics classroom
2016 (English)In: Social Justice, Equality and Solidarity in Education, 2016Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
This paper focuses on how power operates in the practice of physics education; aiming to explore the simultaneous constitution of knowledge and power in the secondary physics classroom. Power is here regarded as something that guides or governs the actions of others. In the case of the physics classroom, a systematic use of language and actions by teachers as well as students direct what should be highlighted and discerned in terms of physics knowledge and knowledge-making, which we consider as an aspect of power. In this way power and knowledge are integrated and also integral to teaching and learning processes. A key assumption is that when someone participates in teaching and learning activities, they learn much more than the content knowledge being taught; they learn what counts as relevant knowledge in physics, about the norms and values of physics, and who can be a physicist. These aspects are analysed in a comparative approach which shows the differences and/or similarities in terms of how governance is acted out and which companion meanings are offered in the interplay. The empirical data consists of video recordings and field notes from two lower secondary schools in Y8 and Y9 respectively (six physics lessons in each school). The analytical model used here is built on the transactional approach suggested by Author/s (A), founded in the view that meaning in a situation is constituted in interplay between the participants in the situation. This transactional approach is here operationalized in a three stage analytical approach; the first stage consists of investigations of the meaning making in the teaching process (through the identification of epistemological moves), the second stage draws on analyses of governance and self-governance (cf. Öhman 2010), and in the third stage potential companion meanings of the meaning making and governance in the proceeding steps are considered. At first glance, teachers from both schools adhere closely to a traditional interpretation of a physics curriculum, with their strong focus on factual knowledge and a distinct progression through this curriculum. However, a more detail analysis revealed that, for example: In Case 1 the students are invited to contribute to the progression of the lessons by generative moves guiding them to ‘fill in’ certain content, not previously presented by the teacher. In Case 2 the students’ contributions are largely limited to showing that they have been keeping up with what the teacher has previously presented. Consequently, while the differencing approaches might not include different physics content, an analysis of the companion meanings made consequences for potential student subjectivities explicit. Therefore, in the increasingly individualised late liberal society where people are expected to be active, reflective and make choices for their own personal good, the students in these two classrooms are given very different pre-requisites for informed citizenship.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-118370OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-118370DiVA: diva2:912741
NERA 44th congress, Helsinki, 9-11 mars, 2016
FunderSwedish Research Council