Schooling of “foreign worker’s children” – Experiencing class between the written curriculum and the practices of school politics in light of oral histories of former students

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In the current moral panic discourses of how students with migratory histories (particular students perceived as non-western descendent) are not performing well enough in education in Danish context (Fabrin & Buchardt, 2015; Gilliam, 2009), there is an embedded assumption of the need of a class upward mobility through education for this group for students. Historically, Danish education politics have since the 1970s targeted these groups of students as groups needing extracurricular education efforts for inclusion (Buchardt, 2016). In the 1970s’ education policy, these groups of students were label as “foreign worker’s children”. The students were often the children of migrant guest workers that took part in the so-called ‘guest worker programs’ from the early 1960s. These programs were created as there was an increased request of manual labor in Northern European nation-states qua the economic boom, which the workforce was insufficient in numbers to fulfill. The children of migrants entered the Danish schools as many of the guest worker migrants achieved family reunification with their families and settled permanently. Alongside the increased numbers of migrant students from the 1970s and onwards, numbers of interventions and policies (both national and international) for integration have been targeting this particular group. In the media, policy and pedagogical materials targeting this group tended to emphasize the “foreign part” (often interpreted as foreign ethnic culture) of the foreign worker’s children (Buchardt, 2016) and did not focus on “the worker part” of it. There seems to be some historical tensions between the societal expectation of class mobility through education on one hand and the neglect of issues of class in the curriculum of schooling for migrant students on the other hand. Using oral histories of migrant students’ experiences of schooling in the Danish context from the 1970 to 1990’s, this paper seeks to unfold the tensions through the migrant students’ own voice. Methodologically that is giving voice to minoritized positions whose ‘ordinary’ experiences that usually are not heard in standard histories (McLeod, 2016). This is done by exploring how the migrant student has been experiencing the lived class (Skeggs, 1997) as the tensions between in the written curriculum where class is a neglected issue and the practices of school politics where class is experienced by students as intersecting with racialization. The term racialization refers to how the category of race is created through a complex historical sedimentation process that classifies and sets boundaries (Myong, 2007). Hence, I analyze the lived experiences of class of migrant students and how the class experiences are interlocking with race. Furthermore how the historical interlocking of class and race is (re)produce over time in the Danish Schooling from the 1970s to 1990’s. Therefore this paper deal with history of education politics through not only analyzing the processes of how class is lived but also how schooling become part of the circumstances of possibility that make class (Skeggs, 2004). BibliographyBuchardt, M. (2016). Kulturforklaring: uddannelseshistorier om muslimskhed. Kbh.: Tiderne Skifter.Fabrin, L., & Buchardt, M. (2015). PISA Etnisk: i lyset af tosprogede elevers skole- og testhistorie. In K. Andreasen, M. Buchardt, A. Rasmussen, & C. Ydesen (Eds.), Test og prøvelser : oprindelse, udvikling, aktualitet. Aalborg: Aalborg Universitetsforlag.Gilliam, L. (2009). De umulige børn og det ordentlige menneske : identitet, ballade og muslimske fællesskaber blandt etniske minoritetsbørn. Århus : Aarhus Universitetsforlag.McLeod, J. (2016). Memory, Affective Practice and Teacher Narratives: Researching Emotion in Oral Histories of Educational and Personal Change. In M. Zembylas & P. A. Schutz (Eds.), Methodological Advances in Research on Emotion and Education (pp. 273–284)., L. (2007). Hvid avantgardemaskulinitet og fantasien om den raciale Anden. In J. Kofoed & D. Staunæs (Eds.), Magtballader: 14 fortællinger om magt, modstand og menneskers tilblivelse. (pp. 197–220). Copenhagen: Danmarks Pædagogiske Universitetsforlag.Skeggs, B. (1997). Formations of class and gender becoming respectable . London: SAGE.Skeggs, B. (Ed.). (2004). Class, self, culture. London: Routledge.


ConferenceISCHE 42 International Standing Conference for the History of Education
LocationÖrebro University
Internet address

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