Things Matter: Landscapes of Education As Spheres of Influence

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Timo SAVELA, University of Turku, Finland
Research in linguistic landscapes of education or schoolscapes (Brown, 2005, 2012) is a relatively recent development. The research is best described as transdisciplinary, operating in the margins of multiple disciplines, namely sociolinguistics, educational studies and geography. My research focuses on mediated interaction between various landscape participants who not only experience the landscape as recipients, but also as shape it as active agents.

As landscapes schoolscapes are not merely static institutional spaces where education takes place. They not only are, but also do; they are processes that shape people and in turn are shaped by people. On one hand, they reflect the top-down socializing processes of education and language policies. On the other hand, they are shaped by bottom-up processes, namely by the landscape participants who have the potential to shape the environment that shapes them. One key aspect of my research is to evaluate the role of landscape participants in shaping the learning environment.

Evident from the issued items, the results of my research conducted in a school unit in Finland indicate that the use of language differs between the landscape participants. Similarly to external participants, students use more languages than the institutional participants whose use of language reflects the top-down education and language policies. Furthermore, the use of language by students varies considerably on different levels of education. There is a clear shift from high use of Finnish on the primary level to high use of English on the secondary level. Nevertheless, while the students are able to participate, the institutional participants dominate the educational landscape. Moreover, student participation declines on the secondary level, indicating that students become more passive as they grow older, further emphasizing the role of the institution in the landscape.