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

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


‘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.


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How to Cite
Jónsson, Ólafur P. (2016). Democratic and Inclusive Education in Iceland: Transgression and the Medical Gaze. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 7.