“We need to stop talking about ‘normal’ students”

Gunilla Holm and Fritjof Sahlström

Gunilla Holm and Fritjof Sahlström. Photo: HBL/Leif Weckström

JustEd director, professor Gunilla Holm and JustEd team leader, dean Fritjof Sahlström discuss marginalisation and discrimination in Nordic schools in a recent interview article in Hufvudstadsbladet (HBL), the biggest Swedish-language newspaper in Finland.

“Marginalisation, discrimination and exclusion are common in Nordic schools. In order to make a change we need  to address these issues both on a political and practical level”, says Gunilla Holm and Fritjof Sahlström.

“In general, we would need a norm-critical approach, not considering the white, blond, middle-class pupil who speaks Finnish or Swedish as the norm. We need to stop talking about ‘normal’ students, because there are no ‘normal’ students. Instead, we need to open up for diversity and disparities, and avoid considering some pupils as divergent and atypical. That excludes many pupils with special needs, diverse sexual identities, religion or language. We really would need to have a closer look at how we think about our pupils, says Gunilla Holm.

The article in Hufvudstadsbladet is based on a synthesis of years of research by more 100 JustEd researchers from 14 universities in 8 countries. The JustEd researchers recently published a report summarizing the implications of the research findings for educational policies in the Nordic countries. In addition to pointing out the ongoing discrimination and exclusion in Nordic schools, the researchers also conclude that marketbased and privatization reforms in the Nordic countries have detrimental consequences for educational justice. The researchers are appealing to policy makers to adjust educational policies and curricula to explicitly address and counteract social segregation and marginalization in the educational system in order to promote equity in education.

Find out more about the JustEd policy implications here!



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About the Author

About the Author: Charlotta Järf is in charge of the communications and marketing activities for JustEd, The Nordic Centre of Excellence, an international research network with 14 partner universities in 8 countries. With ten years of professional experience in Communications and Marketing, and five years as a TV, radio and newspaper journalist, Charlotta has a practical set of skills in strategical communications, PR, social media, graphic design, video and content production. .


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