4 January 2022

New article: Cross-Case Analysis of Changes in Teacher Role and Didactic Function in Denmark, 1980–2020 by Karen Borgnakke

Based on research findings from long-term fieldwork, the article presents a cross-case analysis, drawing on Danish examples from: (a) the interdisciplinary and project-oriented university environment (b) developments in elementary school (c) IT classes in upper secondary school and (d) online learning in a nursing education program. An overview of the changing teacher functions and contemporary challenges is provided and shows how the general features of the cases include the teachers’ struggle for autonomy and the ever-present risk of losing autonomy.

The cross-case analysis show how the project-based pedagogical paradigm during the 1980s and 1990s generated alternative concepts of the professional teacher and bottom-up strategies for teacher collaboration. During the 2000s and 2010s, a shift occurred, as the new powerful learning paradigm and top-down directed demands for “high professionalism” led to an accumulation of functions and functional overheating rather than alternative practices. At the same time, demands for multi-functionality in the classroom were increased considerably  and highlighted as a professional readiness for change and innovation.

Currently—in the middle of the worldwide pandemic of COVID 19—these demands to be ready for change are put forward with even greater pressure.  A societal appeal for teachers to take responsibility by “going online” means that teachers are not only expected to manage their subjects in online versions, but that they are also expected to transform any didactic action in creating the online school.

In practice though, this appeal comes with a risk of overheating both teacher functions and teaching practices. At the same time, there is also a risk that a transfer of responsibility—where teachers become “society’s problem solver”— allows contemporary politicians and school leaders to evade their responsibilities.

Karen Borgnakke: Cross-Case Analysis of Changes in Teacher Role and Didactic Function in Denmark, 1980–2020.