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Social representations of educability in Finland: 20 years of continuity and change

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Abstract

This study set out to replicate a survey conducted 20 years ago on Finnish parents’ social representations of educability. A nationwide sample of parents (N = 642) were asked to indicate their opinions on a set of statements pertaining to topical educational issues. The results indicated that educational discussion is still structured by two major competing representations of intelligence, the ‘natural’ and the ‘social’, and the corresponding educational policies, the ‘selective’ and the ‘comprehensive’. Further, some novel and still relatively independent representations, such as the diversity of human abilities and entrepreneurship education, were identified. The comprehensive representation found support particularly among the vocationally educated parents, who were worried about social equality, while the selective representation, i.e., the ideology of natural giftedness, found support among the academically educated fathers. The representational field of educability seemed quite established, indicating relative continuity of educational discourse.

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Correspondence to Hannu Räty.

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Räty, H., Komulainen, K. & Hirva, L. Social representations of educability in Finland: 20 years of continuity and change. Soc Psychol Educ 15, 395–409 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-012-9188-0

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Keywords

  • Educational reforms
  • Social representations of intelligence
  • Educability
  • Parents
  • Educational and gender differences