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The changing nature of autonomy. Transformations of the late Swedish teaching profession
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education. (STEP)
(English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, ISSN 0031-3831, E-ISSN 1470-1170Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

This article discusses teacher autonomy in the case of the Swedish teaching profession since the 1980’s. The autonomy of the Swedish teaching profession has been transformed over the subsequent years. It is argued that deregulation, decentralization, changed distribution of responsibilities and marketization reforms of the 1990’s have indeed increased teacher autonomy, but in some respects also led to a increase of complexity in the Swedish school system. In order to handle this complexity, the state intensified a standardization of schooling, which restricts teacher autonomy today. Theoretically, the article facilitates a two-dimensional model of how the state can steer teachers’ autonomy. It puts forward institutional autonomy and service teacher autonomy. The first dimension focuses on the teaching profession as a collective group, in terms of its rights and duties. The latter dimension considers the practical aspects of professionals’ work, in schools and classrooms. Relevant in the understanding is that teacher autonomy is always about control, exerted internally by the profession itself and facilitated externally by state standards. Here, the article finally argues that the restriction of teacher autonomy in recent times is also related to a simplified understanding of the phenomenon in the reforms of the 1990’s

Keyword [en]
Teacher autonomy, teaching profession, teacher professionalism, educational reform, school governance, Sweden
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-271592OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-271592DiVA: diva2:892614
Teacher Autonomy in Sweden, England, Germany and Finland
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2016-01-11 Created: 2016-01-11 Last updated: 2016-01-11

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Wermke, Wieland
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