Förberedelse för särskildhet : Särskolans pedagogiska arbete i ett verksamhetsteoretiskt perspektiv

Sammanfattning: Preparing for segregation. Educational work within the Swedish special school - an activity theoretical approachThis study aims at illuminating what is special about Särskolan’s pedagogical work. In Sweden schooling for children who are regarded intellectually disabled is organised in a special school, Särskolan, established during the late 1800s. Today Särskolan is organised in two forms, a training school and a compulsory särskola. The pedagogical work in Särskolan is commonly referred to as special and unique. However, what this special is has not previously been explored.The study is conducted within the tradition of cultural-historical activity theory. According to this tradition, personality, development and change is understood and explained in relation to various activity systems in which the individual is involved. Each activity is regarded as a historically developed, complex system of motive-driven, goal-orientated human actions that aim at finding solutions to a societal need. These theoretical assumptions have informed the design of the study of Särskolan as a historically developed activity.The study was carried out during the school year 2002–2003 in one training school classroom (grade 2–5) and one compulsory särskola classroom (K–4). Class-room observations and staff interviews were used for data production. The core of the analyses concerned what the teachers were trying to achieve. According to the theoretical assumption, the motive is expected to appear in the object of the activity, therefore the overall analysis focused on the object of the activity of teaching.One major result was that the teachers in the training school pursued preparations for daily life while in the compulsory särskola the pupils were prepared for teaching. With an activity theoretical approach to learning, the study further shows that the possibilities for pupils to learn – e.g. sign language in the training school or literacy in the compulsory särskola – were limited.The overall conclusion is that the special with the Särskola is that up-bringing and preparation dominate the activity. The emphasis on preparation seem to be related to the teachers’ conceptions of the pupils as being in need of a special kind of knowledge before they can be taught the knowledge referred to in the syllabuses.