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Research GION education/research Research Promolokaal

What is schooling for and what does this mean for the teaching profession?

Project onder begeleiding van dr. Thibault Coppe (t.coppe, prof.dr. Hanke Korpershoek (h.korpershoek en dr. Irene Poort (i.c.poort

For years, the school could rely on "allants de soi", with clear roles of students and teachers in line with the goals of schooling (Tay, 2023). Schools had a clear institutional program that was to build an expected society, and the teaching profession had clear contours. As coined by Brint (2006), the school has emerged and existed as a "social machinery" working for the nation. Consequently, the school was built on certainties, on self-evident aspects that best served the institutional program of the nation. As a result, the foundations of the school have not been questioned on a large scale for a long time. It could be argued, however, that the school is now at a turning point, especially in the last 20 years. This research project builds on the theoretical hypothesis that multiple societal trends are currently shaking up the clear contours of the purposes of the school. Mangez et al. (2023) wrote: 

What can we expect from a student or a teacher? How should we proceed in the classroom? What content is worth teaching; what skills need to be developed? What values should be promoted? What objectives should be pursued: the equity or efficiency of the system, the development of students, their future employability, their critical thinking skills, their technical knowledge, their creativity, their rigor, their adaptability? At every level, the possible answers are multiplying. But none of them is any longer self-evident” (p. 4). 

Several educational sociologists argue that the modern school (among other public institutions) has lost its normative references and is now characterized by a permanent crisis (Dubet, 2021; Verhoeven, 2012). School is no longer self-evident. Mangez and colleagues (2023) highlighted that this loss of certainties had as consequences a form of fragmentation of the school goals. Parallel to this loss of certainties, in most European countries, there is a narrative of disenchantment with school (Biesta, 2019). On the one hand, modern schooling has not kept its promises of emancipation and equal opportunities (Dubet, 2010). On the other hand, our changing society —driven by pluralism and globalization— and the challenges it poses are continuously giving schools new and complex responsibilities (Tay, 2023). While school is supposed to be an institution that participates in the improvement of societies, the global narrative of failure seems to make it a burden and a problem rather than a solution (Natale & Doran, 2012). Within these uncertainties and this disenchantment, the rise of comparative surveys (e.g., PIRLS, TALIS) adds a competitive perspective in which schools are pushed to perform. While the school was navigating within so many uncertainties, according to Biesta (2023) numbers became its new narrative, as an easy to follow new guide. Consequently, educational quality has become synonymous with effectiveness in terms of metrics, and nowadays, these indicators drive policy and shape the education reform agenda (Biesta, 2023).

This research project aims to combine the fields of sociology of education, philosophy of education, and educational sciences in an interdisciplinary framework to investigate current trends in our understanding of what schooling is for and what this means for the teaching profession, in light of current societal trends and challenges. We aim at building an in-depth conceptualization of the role of the school in today’s society from the voices of specific stakeholders (e.g., teachers, teacher unions, educational policy-makers) and the society in general (e.g., parents, other adults, students).

Last modified:30 January 2024 09.51 a.m.