The aim of this article is to describe and analyse how the Swedish Association of Biology Teachers (ABT) and some other subject associations helped form pre-service biology teacher education in two major Swedish reforms from ca. 1960 to 1990.
The activities of subject associations can be understood as boundary-work since they defend their subject boundaries in terms of content, space in the timetable, and legitimacy. A hermeneutic method of text interpretation is employed in analysing historical archival and parliamentary material.
The work of the ABT to demarcate their subject in the 1968 and 1988 Teacher Education Reforms may seem like merely defending certain biological items instead of others, in the name of science. However, it was also a professional struggle to assert the importance of the teachers, their jobs, education, knowledge of biology subject matter, and thereby their professional authority and autonomy. The ABT were also caught in a political struggle for their subject throughout the period of investigation. Depending on the political winds of the time they therefore had to ally themselves with or distance themselves from various actors.
In comparison with the few other studies of subject associations, this article is unique in outlining how the ABT acted in relation to teacher education. However, the ways of doing boundary-work were still very similar to those used by subject associations in schools in other countries, especially in acting for increased study time in their respective science subjects as well as their resistance to subject integration. An obvious conclusion regarding teacher education is that subject associations such as the ABT did not contribute to bridging the gap between subject matter and pedagogy but rather the opposite. Biology teacher education was seen as an academic pursuit carried out at universities rather than at the practically oriented teacher training colleges.
London: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2015. Vol. 44, no 2