Governing in the name of children’s leisure time: A contemporary history of the construction of today’s school-age childcare (fritidshem) in coordination with the schools.
The purpose of this study is to provide a perspective on the recent restructuring of the cooperation between schools and school-age childcare in Sweden. To achieve that goal the study also focuses on varying conceptions of school-age childcare through different time periods. The subject matter of the study is the reasoning embodied in various concepts of how school-age childcare and schools should cooperate, as well as their methods of coordination. The changing conceptions of school-age childcare over a period of time raise questions about its pedagogic identity. The actual focus of the study is on the ways of reasoning that guide school-age childcare now and have guided it in the past, and how this reasoning governs and exercises power in the name of children’s leisure time.
The empirical basis of the study consists of various texts, most of which are official reports and propositions, professional texts, and earlier investigations on the coordination between school-age childcare the schools.
At the end of the 1990s school-age childcare was transferred from the arena of social policy to that of educational policy. The change was emphasized in the discussion about a holistic view, which then produced the team as the logical tangible form for cooperation.
The theoretical basis for the study is Michel Foucault’s and his followers’ analyses of the modern welfare state’s reasoning about governing. Foucault calls his perspective governmentality. This concept emphasizes the thinking and ideas in the name of which governing takes place. The object of governing is influenced, in other words, by the thinking that is the basis of the actual steering.
The governing of school-age childcare is approached from three angles. These are costs/economy and the connections between compulsory school and voluntary afternoon activities. The third angle is about the relation between children’s social development and knowledge. The assumption is made that these angles provide a certain mode of thinking about today’s school-age childcare. Today’s governmentalities, which I call the pedagogical thought, emerged during the late 1970s. This mentality in turn appeared against the background of other historical figures of thought, e.g. the work mentality of the early 1900s as well as the recreation mentality of the 1930 and 1940s. The metaphors of the “child exempted from school attendance” and what I call the “village-child” show a strained relationship between what is stated in texts and the reasoning in pedagogical practice. In the 1970s the texts introduced a holistic view in childcare.
The governmentalities that organize the school-age childcare of the 1990s are characterized by the discussion of holistic views and the team, and contain different aspects than the discussions of the early 1900s, the 1940s and -50s, and the1970s and -80s. The strategies and techniques developed aim at neutralizing the dichotomy of social development/knowledge. Assumptions about the child’s growth are not just a matter of an ambition to govern the whole child/pupil. Comprehensive control affects cognitive, emotional, and ethical values. Today’s reasoning also has an impact on the temporal aspects of the child’s existence – a life-long learning.
Keywords: governmentality, leisure time, school-age childcare, school, social development, knowledge, developmental psychology, cooperation, holistic view, team
HLS förlag , 2001. , 229 p.
2001-06-08, Sal D3, Lärarhögskolan i Stockholm, Rålambsvägen 24, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)