Democratic and Inclusive Education in Iceland: Transgression and the Medical Gaze

  • Ólafur Páll Jónsson
Keywords: inclusion, medical gaze, transgression, democratic education, John Dewey, Iceland

Abstract

‘Inclusive education’ and ‘democracy’ are more than buzzwords in education. They refer to official educational policy in much of the western world. Democracy as a school policy seems to be widely accepted while inclusive education is more controversial, sometimes fuelling lively public debates where parents and politicians are vocal. However, there seems to be little agreement on what ‘inclusive education’ means, although one can discern a certain core to the understanding of ‘inclusive education’ among many of those who participate in the public debate. Central to the above understanding of inclusive education and democracy are certain features that I want to draw attention to. First, what falls under the headings ‘democracy in schools’, ‘democratic education’ or ‘student democracy’, on the one hand, and ‘inclusive education’, on the other, have little to do with one another. I discuss how the medical gaze in the context of education belongs to the dominant ideology of the time and is thus prevailing without ever having to be argued for or defended. The consequence of this is, as I see it, that education (which sometimes is more training than growth) is being cast in pathological terms. I connect the idea of transgression to that of democratic school and character. Transgression is relevant in two ways here. The school has to be a place where transgression is encouraged and, secondly, it is a place where transgression is valued as a democratic virtue. Virtue here could, I think, be understood in Aristotelian terms – or even given a Socratic interpretation.

References

Allan, J. (2008). Rethinking inclusive education: The philosophers of difference in practice. Dordrecht: Springer.

Allan, J. (Ed). (2003). Inclusion, participation and democracy: What is the purpose? Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Allan, J. (2011). Complicating, not explicating: Taking up philosophy in learning disability research. Learning Disability Quarterly, 34(2), 153–161.

Ballard, K. (2003). Including ourselves: Teaching, trust, identity and community. In J. Allan (Ed.), Inclusion, participation and democracy: What is the purpose? London: Kluwer.

Barnett, R. (2003). University in a fluid age. In R. Curren (Ed.), A companion to the philosophy of education (pp. 561–568). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Biesta, G. J. J. (2006). Beyond learning: Democratic education for a human future. Boulder CO: Paradigm Publishers.

Bjarnason, D. S. (2008). Private troubles or public issues? The social construction of ‘the disabled baby’ in the context of social policy and social and technological changes. In S. L. Gabel & S. Danforth (Eds.), Disability and the politics of education: An international reader (pp. 251–274). New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Bjarnason, D. & Gunnþórsdóttir, H. (2014). Conflicts in teachers’ professional practices and perspectives about inclusion in Icelandic compulsory schools. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 29(4), 491–504.

Bjarnason, D. S. & Marinósson, G. L. (2015). Salamanca and beyond: Inclusive education still up for debate. In F. Kiuppis & R. Sarromaa Hausstätter (Eds.), Inclusive education: Twenty years after Salamanca (pp. 133–144). New York: Peter Lang.

Bohman, J. & Rehg, W. (1997). Deliberative democracy. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Cohen, J. (1997). Deliberation and democratic legitimacy. In J. Bohman and W. Rehg (Eds.) Deliberative democracy (pp. 67–91). Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Connor, D. J., Gabel , S. L., Gallagher, D. J. & Morton, M. (2008). Disability studies and inclusive education — implications for theory, research, and practice. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 12(5–6), 441–457.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. New York NY: MacMillan.

Dewey, J. (1998 [1939]). Creative democracy – The task before us. In L.A. Hickman & T.M. Alexander (Eds.) The essential Dewey, Vol. I (pp. 340–343). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Edelstein, W. (1988/2013). Markmið og bygging samfélagsfræðinnar. [Aims and structure of sociology]. In L. Guttormsson (Ed.), Sögukennslu¬skammdegið Rimman um sögukennslu og samfélagsfræði 1983-1984 (pp. 49-98). Reykjavík: University of Iceland Press.

Foucault, M. (1984). Truth and power. In P. Rabinow (Ed.), The Foucault reader (pp. 51-75). New York: Pantheon Books.

Foucault, M. (1977). Language, counter-memory, practice: Selected essays and interviews. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Gabel, S. L. & Peters, S. (2004). Presage of a paradigm shift? Beyond the social model of disability toward resistance theories of disability, Disability and Society, 19(6), 585–600.

Guðjónsdóttir, H. & Karlsdóttir, J. (2010). Hvernig látum við þúsund blóm blómstra? Skipulag og framkvæmd stefnu um skóla án aðgreiningar. [How do we make a Thousand Flowers Bloom? Organization and Implementation of Inclusive School Policy.] Ráðstefnurit Netlu – Menntakvika 2010.

Gutmann, A. & Thompson, D. (2004). Why deliberative democracy? Princeton: Princeton University Press.

hooks, b. (1994) Teaching to transgress. New York/London: Routledge.

Ialongo, N. S., Werthamer, L., Kellam, S. G., Brown, C. H., & Wang, S., Lin, Y. (1999). Proximal impact of two first-grade preventive interventions on the early risk behaviors for later substance abuse, depression, and antisocial behavior. American Journal of Community Psychology, 27(5), 599–641.

Jóhannesson, I. Á. (2006). ‘‘Strong, independent, able to learn more ...’’: Inclusion and the construction of school students in Iceland as diagnosable subjects. Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education, 27(1), 103–119.

Jónsson, Ó. P. (2011). Lýðræði, réttlæti og menntun. [Democracy, justice and education]. Reykjavík: University of Iceland Press.

Jónsson, Ó. P. (2014). Lýðræðisleg menntastefna: Sögulegt ágrip og heimspekileg greining. [Democratic educational policy: Brief history and philosophical analysis]. Icelandic Review of Politics and Administration, 10(1), 99–118.

Jónsson, Ó. P. (2015). Þverstæðan um lýðræðislegt skólastarf. [The paradox of democratic school practices]. Uppeldi og menntun, 24(2).

Jones, C. & Porter, R. (1994). Reassessing Foucault: Power, medicine and the body. London: Routledge.

Jørgensen, P. S. (2004). Childrens’ participation in a democratic learning environment. In J. MacBeath & L. Moss (Eds.), Democratic learning: The challenge to school effectiveness (pp. 113–131). New York: Routlege Falmer.

Kazdin, A. E. (1980). Acceptability of alternative treatments for deviant child behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 13(2), 259–273.

Mairs, N. (1986). Plaintext. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

Marinósson, G. L. (Ed.). (2007). Tálmar og tækifæri. Menntun nemenda með þroskahömlun á Íslandi [Barriers and opportunities: education of disabled pupils in Iceland]. Reykjavík: University of Iceland Press.

Marinósson, G. L. & Bjarnason, D. S. (2015). Special education today in Iceland. In A. F. Rotatori, J. P. Bakken, S. Burkhardt, F. E. Obiakor, & U. Sharma (Eds.). Special Education International Perspectives: Practices Across the Globe (Advances in Special Education, Volume 28) (pp. 271–309). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Menntavísindastofnun Háskóla Íslands. (2014). Greining á gögnum um sérkennslu frá Hagstofu Íslands [Analysis of data from Statistics Iceland]. Reykjavík: Menntavísindastofnun.

Molnar, A. (2005). School commercialism: From democratic ideal to market commodity. New York: Routledge.

Mouffe, C. (2000). Deliberative democracy or agonistic pluralism. Vienna: Institute for advanced studies.

Nussbaum, M. (2006). Frontiers of justice: Disability, nationality and species membership. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Olssen, M. (2006). Foucault and the imperatives of education: Critique and self-creation in a non-foundational world. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 25(3), 245–271.

Óskarsdóttir, G. G. (2014). Starfshættir í grunnskólum. við upphaf 21. aldar. [Practices in schools at the beginning of the 21st century]. Reykjavík: University of Iceland Press.

Ragnarsdóttir, H & Hansen, B. (2014). The development of a collaborative school culture: The case of an inner-city school in Reykjavík, Iceland. In H. Ragnarsdóttir & C. Schmidt (Eds.) Learning spaces for social justice: International perspectives on exemplary practices from preschool to secondary school (pp. 76–92). Sterling: Trentham Books.

Ragnarsdóttir, H. & Schmidt, C. (Eds.). (2014). Learning spaces for social justice: International perspectives on exemplary practices from preschool to secondary school. Sterling: Trentham Books.

Rawls, J. (2001). Justice as fairness. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Salamanca statement and framework for action on special needs education. (1994). Salamanca, June 7–10.

Sen, A. (1992). Inequality reexamined. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Sigurðardóttir, A. K. (2010). Professional learning community in relation to school effectiveness. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 54(5), 395–412.

Sigurðardóttir, A. K., Gujónsdóttir, H. & Karlsdóttir, J. (2014). The development of a school for all in Iceland: Equality, threats and political conditions. In U. Blossing et al. (Eds.), The Nordic education model: ‘A School for All’ encounters neo-liberal policy (pp. 95–113). Dordrecht. Springer.

Slee, R. (2011). The irregular school. Exclusion, schooling and inclusive education. London: Routledge.

WHO. (2011). World report on disability. Geneva: WHO Press.

Young, I. M. (2002). Inclusion and democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Zizek, S. (1997). The plague of fantasies. London: Verso.
Published
2016-03-29
How to Cite
Jónsson, Ólafur P. (2016). Democratic and Inclusive Education in Iceland: Transgression and the Medical Gaze. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 7. https://doi.org/10.7577/njsr.2097