1st Edition

The Fabrication of the Autonomous Learner Ethnographies of Educational Practices in Switzerland, France and Germany

    238 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides a thorough and detailed analysis of how the figure of the ‘autonomous learner’ shapes educational practices. It unpacks the impact of current educational reform discourse that focuses on the individual pupil as a learner, while neglecting the social dimensions of classroom practices. In view of the yet unknown requirements of the knowledge economy, students are demanded to take more responsibility for their learning and to become self-reliant, independent, lifelong learners. In turn, teachers are asked to tailor education to the individual needs of their students and to foster their individual learning trajectories.

    Based on in-depth fieldwork and long-term observation of interactions in classrooms and other scholastic settings, scholars from three European countries – France, Germany and Switzerland – show how the translation of the figure of the ‘autonomous learner’ into classrooms is shaped by distinct cultural traditions. Chapters analyse teaching routines and conceptions of self-reliance involved in autonomy-oriented settings and discuss how these change the sociality of the classroom. They scrutinize how autonomy is used to differentiate between students and how it contributes to the reproduction of social inequality. The book brings into dialogue two neighbouring research traditions that research autonomous learning from a sociological perspective and which have largely ignored each other until now. In so doing, the contributions engage a critical perspective for a careful empirical analysis in order to better understand what is being done in the name of autonomy.

    Providing insight into the many facets of developing and nurturing self-standing pupils across various educational contexts, this is ideal reading for scholars in the field of education, as well as teachers and decision-makers across the educational sector.

    SECTION 1: Effects of pedagogical approaches to foster autonomy in preschool (école maternelle) and primary school  1. Autonomous workshops and individual Montessori-type activities: An analysis of their effects on learning and inequalities Ariane Richard-Bossez  2. Invented spelling for achieving literacy on one’s own: A persistent ideal of autonomy producing inequalities Fabienne Montmasson-Michel  3. The "pedagogy of autonomy": Similar educational tools for a variety of teaching practices Julien Netter & Christoph Joigneaux  4. The didactics of autonomy in multigrade classrooms Laura Weidmann & Ursula Fiechter  5. "Notice how you feel" and "train your brain." Mindfulness meditation as a technology of the self in education Jeanne Rey  SECTION 2: Teachers’ guidance of pupil autonomy in secondary schools  6. (Un)supervised autonomy: Getting pupils to "take responsibility" for their learning Héloïse Durler & Crispin Girinshuti  7. Doing reflexivity in a self-directed learning setting Regula Fankhauser, Judith Hangartner & Ditjola Naço  8. Group pedagogy and the acquisition of autonomy in learning Marie-Sylvie Claude & Patrick Rayou  9. Practicing social distinction when supervising pupils’ autonomous projects Stéphane Vaquero  SECTION 3: Autonomy concerns in the context of educational reforms: Inclusion and digitalization  10. Inside the "cocoon" of special education classes. When autonomy serves as a gold standard for reorienting children Laurent Bovey  11. On the norm of individual autonomy in school Thorsten Merl  12. The (de)construction of the autonomous learner in a digitalized school world Mario Steinberg & Yannick Schmid


    Judith Hangartner is Professor at the University of Teacher Education, Bern, Switzerland.

    Héloïse Durler is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Teacher Education, Lausanne, Switzerland.

    Regula Fankhauser is Professor at the University of Teacher Education, Bern, Switzerland.

    Crispin Girinshuti is Lecturer and Scientific Collaborator at the University of Teacher Education, Lausanne, Switzerland.