Interdisciplinary Work in Schools: between ‘Systemic’ Logic and Skilled Judgement

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In a Danish school or institutional context there is a variety of professionals working around children’s lives, both as a part of an ordinary child life and when there are cognitive or social challenges connected to this life. Thus, the professionals are often working closely together in both formal and informal cooperation (Edwards 2011, Hjort 2013, Masshelein 2010, Gulløv 2015, Hedegaard-Sørensen 2014, Biesta 2014, Gottlieb and Rathmann 2014, Hansen 2014). Within this framework of cooperation, the professionals bring forward their professional identity and their professional skills, combined with their more formal organizational affiliation. In this way, professionals can be working directly within the school or institution, or they can be in a supportive role being formally affiliated to the local council. Both these types of affiliations entail interdisciplinary cooperation, and it is this field of tension that we will reflect upon in this paper.
Being both a part of a standardized answer to optimize welfare systems and a professional task connected to a professional practice, we find interdisciplinary cooperation caught between a systemic logic and a skilled judgement. In short, interdisciplinary work is part of the new vision of how welfare systems can work more effectively and successfully, and in this logic, it is framed as a new standard for working systematically and consistently with cases. Hence, interdisciplinary work also represents a meaningful way of working with cases in everyday practice within a professional practice. So what is the problem, one might ask?
In our research, we find that the perspectives within the systemic logic collide with or override the professional practice (or skilled judgement) (Negt 1985, Habermas), creating a disturbance within the interdisciplinary cooperation in the local practice. What the systemic logic brings into the interdisciplinary cooperation is not just an organizational framework and support, but also a specific vocabulary and a specific task or way of thinking, which in some ways overrules the individual professionals’ own skilled judgement.
This paper will reflect upon two cases from the research we conducted during 2014-2015 in and together with schools about inclusive education(Tofteng and Bladt 2015). Both cases point out the difficulties between understanding interdisciplinary work within a systemic logic and the understanding of interdisciplinary work as cooperation between skilled professionals. The cases show that, in the experience of the professionals, the local interdisciplinary cooperation works because of the daily contact and workflow, and that sometimes it is even experienced as a gradual transition between the professional knowledge and tasks. Our project shows that the professionals coming from outside the local school often disturb this fine local balancing of professional orientations and coupling of skills. Both because it can be a very slow process of getting in touch with and bringing in these professionals because of long administrative procedures, and also because they bring with them standardized answers to the local problems concerning inclusion or social problems that override the local judgement of problem identification.

Translated title of the contributiontværfagligt samarbejde - mellem systemlogik og faglig dømmekraft
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventNERA 2016: Social Justice, Equality and Solidarity - Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 9 Mar 201611 Mar 2016


ConferenceNERA 2016
Internet address


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