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Jaana Alajoki: "Why doesn’t the system work?” Ethnography of secondary school transitioning towards inclusion

Tampere University
LocationLinna building lecture hall K103, address: Kalevantie 5
26.11.2021 12.00–16.00
Entrance feeFree of charge
Jaana Alajoki
The doctoral dissertation of M.A. Jaana Alajoki focused on the construction of inclusion in the upper comprehensive school. As a concept of the school world, inclusion refers to learning and studying together, as well as a school culture that respects each learner.

The construction of an inclusive upper comprehensive school was examined from the perspectives of teachers (n = 38), pupils (n = 4) and pupil care actors (n = 6). Social entropy theory and the theory of self-organization provided a frame of reference for looking at the school moving towards inclusion as a process. The study was conducted as a school ethnography. The research material was analyzed both with the methods of data-driven content analysis and theoretically with the help of the core concepts of the theory of self-organization.

The results of the study indicate that successful implementation of inclusive education reforms depends on good planning, adequate resourcing and both pre-service teachers training and in-service training that prepared to teach in inclusive class- rooms.

According to the research results, the prerequisites for effective inclusion are good planning, adequate resourcing, and teacher training and inservice training that prepare for inclusive education. Multiprofessionalism and student welfare were incorporated as part of the preconditions for the operation of an inclusive secondary school. The study found that inclusion was often associated with special needs education, although the concept of education for all refers to the functioning of the whole school.

According to the study the inclusion proceeded as a process. Experiences of inclusion without resources made high school teachers hesitant about the functioning of a school called inclusive. Increased disorder in classrooms was perceived as hampering learning and teaching.

The teachers who participated in the study were concerned that each student would have sufficient knowledge and skills to transfer to secondary school at the end of primary school. Student welfare actors emphasized the right of every student to inclusion. Students reflect on the differences between students made by the school system. The need for one’s own or another’s support was not perceived as a special thing among the students. The need to be included overtook the need for learning in some places, but did not displace it.

A systematic examination of inclusion as a process provides an opportunity for schools to assess inclusion as a school-specific activity and thereby develop each school’s own inclusive operating culture.

The doctoral dissertation of M.A. Jaana Alajoki in the field of education titled ”Miks tää systeemi ei toimi?” Etnografia inkluusiota kohti kulkevasta yläkoulusta will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Education and Culture ot Tampere University at 12 o'clock on Friday 26 November, 2021. The venue is Linna bulding lecture hall K103, address: Kalevantie 5. Docent Suvi Lakkala from Lapland University will be the opponent while Professor Marita Mäkinen will act as the custos.

The event can be followed via remote connection

The dissertation is available online at

Photo: Pauliina Iliou