Rules in Everyday School Life: Teacher Strategies Undermine Pupil Participation

in The International Journal of Children's Rights
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Abstract

The aim of this study is to examine the strategies which teachers use in their everyday interactions with pupils to work with and uphold school and classroom rules and to what extent their rule-work strategies give pupils opportunities to have a say and participate in rule-making. The study is based on fieldwork in two Swedish primary schools. According to the findings, the teachers use four main rule-work strategies: (a) assertion, (b) explanation, (c) negotiation, and (d) preparation. The findings show that it is usually the adults in school who make decisions about school rules and that pupils are seldom given any opportunities to create, modify or abolish formal rules through open negotiations. Furthermore, when school democracy meetings take place, they tend to be illusory, reducing negotiation to a matter of figuring out the "right" answer and confirming to proposals from authorities.

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