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Discussing opinions or critically assessing arguments? Conflicting activities in primary school civics teaching about judicial justice
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7527-0011
2019 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Civics teaching in primary school is often shaped by a crowded curriculum, with an abundance of subject matter for teachers to cover in short time (Stolare, 2016), and often seems to be directed towards remembering and recapitulating facts rather than developing qualified ways of reasoning about societal issues (Odenstad, 2010). Nevertheless, critical reasoning is regarded a crucial ability for civics, both in the national curriculum and by teachers. The article explores teaching designed to benefit students’ possibilities to qualify their critical reasoning about issues of judicial justice in civic education in year 6 of primary school. The focus is on how the actions of students’ and teachers’ build teaching activities that promote or hinder critical reasoning about justice issues. 

The study is influenced by a cultural-historical activity theoretical perspective, and assumes that actions and motives of teaching are shaped by the cultural and social needs developed in certain historical contexts. Critical reasoning in civics can be constituted and realised in different ways, depending on the motives for civics as a classroom activity, and how it is expressed and mediated through the actions of both teachers and students. Based on the theory of objectification (Radford, 2013; 2015), the analysis describes how reasoning about judicial justice issues as an object of knowledge is actualised through different teaching activities in the research lessons. 

Data material in the study consisted of transcribed group discussions and whole class conversations from three cycles of research lessons in a learning study conducted in collaboration with a team of seven primary school teachers. The teaching design in the lessons was based upon variation theory (Marton, 2015) and dialogical intersubjectivity (Matusov, 2001). The actions of students and teachers were thematically analysed and described as making up different kinds of joint labours between teachers and students. Actions constituting these joint labours where then correlated with students’ different ways of reasoning about justice issues. 

Four kinds of joint labours between teachers and students where identified, driven by different motives: participation, identity, deliberation and critical judgment. The actions driven by deliberation and critical judgment benefitted students’ critical reasoning about justice issues, while actions driven by participation and identity conflicted with it. The results may contribute to teachers’ understanding of their own practise and to the discussion within social science didactics about the meaning of critical reasoning and critical judgement as a subject specific ability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
Learning study, Activity theory, Teaching/instruction, Social sciences, Primary education, Justice, Teaching and Teacher Education
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Teaching and Learning with Specialisation in the Social Sciences Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178868OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-178868DiVA, id: diva2:1392211
Conference
Nordic Conference on Teaching and Learning in Curriculum Subjects (NOFA7), Stockholm, Sweden, May, 13-15, 2019
Available from: 2020-02-06 Created: 2020-02-06 Last updated: 2020-02-21Bibliographically approved

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  • apa
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