Klassrummet som diskussionsarena

Sammanfattning: The aim of the dissertation is to study whole class discussions in the Swedish upper secondary school, concerning issues subjected to controversy in the public debate. The empirical study is related to a wider question: the possibilities for the school to educate democratic citizens.By using discourse analysis,14 videotaped lessons from social- and religious studies where analysed, with the ambition to investigate recurrent patterns of participation and meaning making. Five teachers and six classes participated in the study.The analysis shows that the teachers have two concurrent goals: to focus on the students’ contributions on issues in the public debate, and introduce the students to different questions in the public debate. A consequence of these goals is that the role of the teacher often becomes complex. By acting on the basis of having responsibility for the students’ development of knowledge, and sometimes also calling attention to certain values, the teacher attempts to guide the students as not yet ready for the public debate. Features from other kinds of teacher-centred education are thereby present in the discussions. However, students can also act as more autonomous participants in relation to the teacher. When they are not answering the teacher’s questions in an expected way, and in particular, in situations in which they are interacting with each other, the students may discuss the public issues without being teacher-guided to the same extent as in other situations.The last chapter concludes that the authority of the teacher is partly given by the official steering-documents. It is still possible to ask if the guiding role of the teacher itself could be subjected to discussion. This suggestion is made from the point that teacher authority is considered as more or less limited for developing a critical attitude among the students. One may also ask if the students’ could be offered possibilities to choose the topic for discussion themselves. This latter point is made against the background that classroom-discussion presupposes student’s viewpoints in order to be accomplished.

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