Research questions

Schooling and radical contemporary changes, social, didactic and vocational stakes

Our goal is to investigate the way schooling systems and their protagonists are affected by contemporary changes, specifically the changes regarding people’s relationship to norms, rules and institutions, and the ones concerning relationship to knowledge, ways of teaching and learning.

These changes may constitute mere evolutions, temporary adaptations, or be structural changes regarding the very foundations of schooling, which question the forms of tomorrow’s schools. Understanding these transformations of institutions and teaching/learning practices implies implementing detailed analysis of vocational knowledge. This analysis relies on Humanities, Social Sciences, Didactics, and requires a systemic and interdisciplinary perspective.

Social, political, and historical backgrounds constitute a powerful crucible influencing the transformation of schooling: for this reason they must be considered by research, along the lines suggested by Edgar Morin and Michel Foucault. Other perspectives are relevant: namely those addressing what being human and learning means (Lev Vygotsky, Alexis Leontiev), the very essence of the pieces of knowledge that are taught (Jean-François Halté), teaching approaches and methods and the role played by information and communication technologies (Seymour Papert).

This approach to the evolution of educational systems allows us to articulate three frameworks:
-a contextual framework, focusing on the interdependence between School and Society;
-a phenomenological framework, investigating what is experienced, as well as practices and mental representations;
-a third framework, exploring the way human subjects fit in learning and teaching settings, and questioning the psychological features at stake.

Our common scientific stance rests upon this interest in the interactions between historical, social, experiential, cultural, psychological and cognitive dimensions, and it is what explains the interdisciplinary aspect of this unit. We propose to articulate our respective disciplines along two research lines:
-The first line, “School and Social Changes” (Ecole et Mutations Sociales) develops a historical, sociological and cultural analysis of contemporary changes in terms of relationship to norms and how these norms are built up in schools.
-The second line, “School and Vocational Practices” is related to ongoing evolutions in the fields of teaching methods and didactics, pedagogy, general and special education, and initial and lifelong training.