A1 Journal article (refereed)
An exploration of the public space and its activities in a Finnish primary school (2020)

Männistö, P. (2020). An exploration of the public space and its activities in a Finnish primary school. Citizenship Teaching and Learning, 15(2), 203-220. https://doi.org/10.1386/ctl_00029_1

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Männistö, Perttu

Journal or series: Citizenship Teaching and Learning

ISSN: 1751-1917

eISSN: 1751-1925

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 15

Issue number: 2

Pages range: 203-220

Publisher: Intellect

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/ctl_00029_1

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:


Finnish schools are often pictured as models for open-ended, child-oriented and dialogic education. In this research article, I approached these phenomena by analysing the organization of a public space in one Finnish school. I used Hannah Arendt’s ([1958] 2013) phenomenological concepts ‐ action and labour ‐ to analyse what kind of consequences the organization of the public space of one Finnish school and the activities promoted within it has on the actions and thinking of the students. Did the studied school promote students active participation in the society or did it rather prepare the labour force for the society to keep functioning as it is? In phenomenology, the goal is to study the lived experience of the informants ‐ in this case, of the people acting in the public space of a school. I collected the ethnographic data that was used in the article by doing observations and interviews in one Finnish school in two separate classrooms in the autumn of 2015. My findings elucidate that not everyone was treated equally within the public space of the school. More so, students did not have real opportunities to act freely, i.e. politically and collectively in the school because power was in the hands of the teachers. The students were mostly taught to labour individually, internalize proper behaviour and were recognized through their labour represented by school tasks. Furthermore, most of the classes were packed full, which meant that constant hurry was the pace for life in the school during most of the days. This again made the realization of activities, which would represent action, nigh impossible in the first place.

Keywords: pupils; comprehensive school; action; civic activism; participation; labour (workforce); power (societal objects); pluralism; phenomenology; ethnography

Free keywords: Arendt, Hannah; action; labour; phenomenology; pluralism; public space

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-19-08 at 19:53