Pedagogues in flexible timetables

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalPaperResearchpeer-review


Research topic/aim

In this paper, I examine school-managers designs of flexible timetables, to explore how they are productive of organizational spaces of possibility that enables, disables and recognizes particular aspects of the practices of pedagogues in schools.

First, I argue that the reform of the Danish public schools in 2014 was a turning point for a particular flexibilization of the schools, which I explore through the prism of the timetable as central organizational tool for ‘doing school’. The flexibilization of schools was supposed to change the organization of schools from being inflexible, to flexible, for the sake of making children-ready schools, rather than school-ready children. With the reform, pedagogues were institutionalized as particularly flexible elements in schools, as they care for many different, new and undefined tasks.

I proceed to analyze two school managers’ designs of flexible timetables, to explore their productions of organizational spaces of possibility for the practices of pedagogues. And I look at, how these spaces enables, disables and recognizes partial practices of pedagogues in schools.

From this reading, I develop two concepts that describes the pedagogues that the flexible timetables are productive of enabling and recognizing as relevant and competent in schools. These are ‘the attachment-flexible pedagogue’ and the ‘knowledge-flexible pedagogue’.

Theoretical framework

I read the timetables as technologies that are configured by different elements, which are designed to work in particular ways, in relation to one-another (Suchman, 2012). Lucy Suchman suggest that we analyze technologies, by disentangling the elements from which they are put together. In examining the design of technologies, it becomes possible to see, from which elements the technology is made, and what work it is intended to do.

Methodology/research design

The paper builds on ethnographic fieldwork (observations and interviews with school-managers, teachers and pedagogues) at five different schools. Here, I have been following timetables of classes, and work-lives of pedagogues, to see how they relate. For the paper, I draw on interviews with school-managers, to explore how they design their timetables, and how the timetables are supposed to enable possibilities for pedagogues in schools.

Expected results/findings

As central organizational technology for school-managers, timetables enacts spaces of possibility for the enabling, disabling and recognizing of practices in school. Flexible timetables seem to demand particular modes of flexibility for pedagogues in school. I suggest that this may challenge our ways of looking at the processes through which domains of professional responsibility and expertise emerge. Looking at how spaces of possibility for professionals’ practice is designed through the timetables makes the material practices of organizational life tangible, as an important force that designs, without determining, the practices of pedagogues in school.

Relevance to Nordic educational research

The timetable is an often-overlooked mundane technology that lies about in the bottom of children’s backpacks. However, it is also an organizational technology for ‘doing schools’, that enables, disables and recognizes professionals’ practices. In unfolding the configurations of timetables, we can recognize their affordances, in producing organizational possibility spaces through which professional practice may unfold.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date5 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2020
EventNERA 2020: Rethinking the futures of education in the Nordic countries - Turku University, Turku, Finland
Duration: 4 Mar 20206 Mar 2020


ConferenceNERA 2020
LocationTurku University
Internet address


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