Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 4 2004, page 77-90.
Eclecticism in vocational education
Governmentality or coincidence?
Peter Musaeus og Claus Elmholdt
The article investigates how the publications of the Danish Ministry of Education present the pedagogy of the Danish Vocational Educational Training (VET) system. It is argued that the Danish Ministry of Education is practising a form of governmentality in the area of VET through these publications. An analysis is carried out of the status of the publications in terms of the identity of the sender, the identity of the receiver, and the aims and content of the message. The argument is that even though various people have authored these publications, the sender is in practice the Danish Ministry of Education. It is illustrated that the publications are mainly inspired by pragmatism, constructivism, and situated learning theory. Furthermore it is argued that overall the publications advocate an eclectic approach to VET, i.e. various pedagogical elements are combined at will with little or no consideration about the theoretical and practical consequences on VET. Inspired by clinical psychology, the article discusses the problems with eclectic approaches to intervention. In particular the article discusses the problems of combining the ideas of constructivism with situated learning. It is argued that this combination yields a problematic view of the learner as the didactic subject, whereby the learner is both conceived of as a metacritical subject constructing his or her understanding of the world as well as a participant who is fundamentally situated in the world. The article suggests that eclecticism can be seen as a result of a larger late-modern societal trend towards hyperindividualism. Ultimately the pedagogical consequences of hyperindividualism for VET are elaborated in terms of three themes: Putting strong pupils at an advantage, problems with individual-circular learning devoid of history, and problems of identity loss.