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Researching the public school


By Anne Merrild Hansen, Head of the PhD School & Britta Lohmann, Head of Institute of Learning

Everyone can probably agree that the public school is incredibly important. The function and work of the public school is important for many aspects of today’s society. Pupils' well-being and learning, opportunities for further education and consequently the level of education in the country, job opportunities and thus recruitment and development of the business community. In addition, it is also of great importance for those who work in and with the schools and the educational system.

At Ilisimatusarfik, we also focus on the public school. Here, we are educating the future generations of public school teachers at the Institute of Learning. Most people probably already know that. But what fewer people may be aware of, is the fact that we also have another area of focus. An area that is growing rapidly. In fact, we have made a massive effort in relation to the production of new knowledge concerning the public school - scientifically based knowledge.

We have recognized that there is a need to examine and produce knowledge about and with the public school, which is based on the actual conditions in this country. In a collaboration between the Institute of Learning and the PhD School, and with strong support from rector Gitte Adler Reimer, a number of lecturers at the teaching programme have embarked on a PhD. They still teach, but part of their work is now also allocated to research. In this way, we not only gain access to completely new and relevant knowledge about learning and didactics. We also get the opportunity to pass this new knowledge directly on to the future teachers we educate.

And there is plenty to do. The area is vastly under-examined, and the more we examine - the better. A lot of research has been done in the Greenlandic public school over time, and reports have been made by consultants - both of which have been carried out primarily by Danish institutions. Of course, we are happy with the knowledge that we have access to - and we use it today. But the knowledge gaps are still so large that we wish we had the funds to launch even more projects.

The research projects that are currently underway have been funded and initiated by Ilisimatusarfik, Greenland Research Council and various Danish universities. The first PhDs at the Institute of Learning were completed in 2016: Anders Øgaard who wrote "Fjernundervisning i skolen i Grønland" ("Distance Learning in the Greenlandic School"), and Lars Demant-Poort who wrote "Naturfagsdidaktik i den grønlandske folkeskole - et multipelt casestudie om natur, undervisning og sprog" ("Didactics in Natural Sciences in the Greenlandic State School - a multiple case study on nature, teaching and language"). Both teach at the teaching programme today and are also working on several research projects related to the public school.

Since then, four more PhD projects have been launched - and several have already come a long way. Louise Pindstrup Andersen examines how the school pedagogically can take into account barriers and challenges young people experience and contribute to ensuring young people's further progress in the educational system. Ivalu Mathiassen examines reading strategies for pupils at the youngest stage with a focus on improving reading instructions in Greenlandic. Kirsten Føns works with outdoor schooling as a form of teaching to promote pupils’ learning and motivation - and Cecilia Pedersen examines how to promote children's well-being in school through the establishment of good children's communities during pre-preparatory classes. In addition, there are others at Ilisimatusarfik who also research children in the public school.

We would like to encourage all those who are interested to visit the PhD School's website. By clicking on current PhD students and then their profiles, you can find links to their articles under "publications". In addition, both researchers and PhD students are always open to inquiries about their research.

Many good and important projects are underway. It is our hope that the projects can help both us and political decision-makers to grow wiser about how we can support and strengthen the public school - and thus provide the best possible foundation for the education of our children and young people in the future.

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