Social Science and Alienation In School

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: Booth 63
Oral Presentation
Janna LUNDBERG , University of Lund, Helsingborg, Sweden
School can in many ways be seen as a place distant from life in general: In classrooms students are kept separate from the familiar parts of life. School and life outside of school follow different schemes so many students seems to put their real life on hold.

Social science class ought to be one occasion where life in school became more real and more similar to life outside of school, since it is supposed to be all about life in society. According to the curriculum for the Swedish upper secondary school it is not enough to learn about society, the students should also become a part of society through active participation – by doing democracy, not only learning about democracy (a legacy from John Dewey). In spite of this we do not appear very well equipped for taking an active part in society even after the twelve years in school that the majority of Swedish citizens complete. The importance of active citizenship is emphasized, but in the room where students and teachers do their daily work something stops the development of active citizenship.

My doctoral study focuses on the intriguing tension between what is told, said and written in theory and what is being done in practice within the field of education and democracy in general and active citizenship in specific. Alienation theory can reveal why the well-intended work within the frames of social science is failing. Alienation in school could be seen as one part of the greater social tendency to postpone life by not living in the present. This paper will examine alienation theory and if in addition to how it can be used to understand the tension mentioned above and thereby search for a path that may have the potential to lead to changes of the situation.