Ideals of self-restraints and naturalness in the Danish school
This paper will bring Norbert Elias into the classrooms of two Danish schools and take a closer look at the ideas of civilized behavior that can be observed in these social settings. Whereas social interaction in Danish schools appears to have gone through the informalisation process described by Elias, the school still holds strong ideals of civilized behavior. The strong integration of the school class – which is both a necessity and a social ideal - indeed gives rise to an overriding focus on self-constraint and the behavior management of the individual child. This is influenced by the school institution itself, by the reform-pedagogical movement, and by a dominant psychological paradigm. Through this conjunction institutional needs for a well-functioning group are united with ideals of natural unsuppressed children and a sensitive awareness of other people’s boundaries. The result is paradoxical demand on both children and teachers for fine-tuned sensitivity, exactly balanced behaviors and unsuppressed naturalness. Laura Gilliam, Associate Professor, Ph. D., Department of Education, Aarhus University.