Values education in Nordic preschools: Basis of education for tomorrow

Values education in Nordic preschools: Basis of education for tomorrow

The research project deals with values education in five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. The aim of the project is to deepen understanding of the institutionalized fostering of values in Nordic preschools at the theoretical, methodological, and empirical levels.

The project applies and further develops Habermas' (1995) theoretical ideas about communicative actions, life-world, and system, which have rarely been utilized in research on a preschool context. Habermas' theory allows for the exploration of values education in preschools from multiple points of view: 1) communication through which values are conveyed; 2) participants' inside perspectives of values (life-world); and 3) broader societal contexts framing the communication, values, and values education (system).

The project develops innovative research methodology in which the participative action research methodology of nation-level sub-projects is connected with the cross-cultural orientation of the joint Nordic research. The research design enables the researchers to work at different levels ranging from the Nordic level to national policy documentation, preschool communities, and individual practitioners. Research material will be gathered through multiple methods: policy documents, individual interviews, group interviews, (video) observations, and written diaries from the participants and the researchers.

A variety of qualitative analysis methods will be flexibly employed and developed in order to explore values education at the system level, communication level, and life-world level. Six perspectives characterize the analyses: 1) educational policies; 2) practitioners' perceptions of values and values education; 3) communication of values in educational practices of preschools; 4) gender; 5) processes and critical incidents for change in preschools; and 6) Nordic commonalities and variations.

The results of the project will provide a national and cross-national body of knowledge that can inform a broad spectrum of target groups across the fields of scientific research, teacher education, and educational policy and practice in the Nordic countries and beyond.