Silvia Edling graduated as a primary school teacher (years 1-7) of Swedish and civics and later followed a teacher training programme in history and English. Since 2003 she has worked as a teacher educator, first of all at Uppsala University (graduate student/lecturer) and then as a lecturer in education at the University of Gävle. Edling defended her PhD thesis at Uppsala University in 2009, which was entitled Ruptured narratives. An analysis of the contradictions in young people’s responses to issues of personal responsibility and social violence in an educational context. The thesis highlighted young people’s sense of responsibility for others. From a curriculum perspective, the aim of the thesis was to acquire an in-depth understanding of the prerequisites for working with ethics, equal treatment and bullying in education.
In her role as an associate professor at Uppsala University, Edling was able to both broaden and deepen her research in areas such as history didactics/didaktik, policy/convention on children’s rights, democracy issues in teacher training, the teaching profession and leadership and maintain her original interest in democracy, ethics and social justice.
She writes that:
One of the challenges that we face now is not to fall into the simplistic black/white thinking that often characterises today’s debate (Lukacs, 2005), where there is a tendency to adopt extreme positions without taking the multifaceted knowledge of the field into account. This could be a one-sided focus on practice or theory, and knowledge or values/emancipation in education. What is instead needed is to create bridges between theory/science and practice, since everything we do in practice is based on ideas. This link needs to be made more visible in order to change and improve the practice. What is more, communities do not only need confident individuals, but also those with the necessary knowledge to address societal challenges. The space between either poles can be understood as a complex and existential difficult place where neat solutions are elusive. It can be tempting to ignore the opposition, allow others to think or lead or aggressively annihilate that which is perceived as difficult or complicated. The question to be asked is therefore: How can we stand in this space where the secure and insecure meet and help each other to deal with the challenges with the aid of the rich flora of scientifically-based knowledge that already exists? This is where my main contribution and commitment to the field lies.
This is a four year project (2018-2021) funded by the Swedish Research Council and hosted by Linnaeus University, with Professor Niklas Ammert as the project manager. Participants in the project are Associate Professor Silvia Edling, University of Gävle, Associate Professor Jan Labiana, University of Helsinki, Finland, and Associate Professor Heather Sharp, Newcastle University, Australia. The project collaborators and sponsors are experts in historical consciousness and/or moral consciousness and contribute a rich comparative material and knowledge of the field to the project. The project’s strength lies in its potential to develop a robust research field and the possibility of using frameworks and didactic tools to promote the teaching of history in its mission to nurture democratic citizens.
The objective of this long-term project, which started in 2019, is to investigate why some schools in Gävle Municipality experience more bullying than others. The project, which takes its starting point in the Gävle anti-bullying model, is part of the practice-based research funded by Gävle Municipality, ULF [Utveckling, Lärande, Forskning/Development, learning, and research] and the University of Gävle. The Gävle model was initiated in 2012 and is a collaboration between the University of Gävle and the municipality. The aim is to systematically combat bullying at the schools, to review anti-bullying policies and to take account of the knowledge that is available in scientific research. Those responsible for the Gävle model are tasked with helping schools to combat bullying by means of a systematic data collection and regular contact with the staff.
The book Democracy and Teacher Education: Dilemmas, Challenges and Opportunities is written for Routledge together with Associate Professor Geraldine Mooney Simmies from Limerick University, Ireland. The book project is funded by the University of Gävle and plans to be published in the spring of 2020.
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Silvia Edling has taught in primary schools since 1995 and in higher education, particularly teacher training, since 2003. During her twenty years of teaching experience she has enhanced her knowledge of social sustainability, learning, the teaching profession, democracy, diversity, equal treatment and ethics through education. Over the years Edling has worked with course development, as a course coordinator, in tutorials and reviews of scientific texts and teaching from a preschool teachers’ programme to master’s level.
Since 2015 she has been engaged in issues of tertiary education through her teaching responsibilities, courses on the educational perspectives on teaching and learning in higher education and work on schools’ grading systems. In 2017 she received an excellent teacher award from the University of Gävle. Over the years Edling has investigated the following at basic, masters and research levels: a) supervision of certificates and masters’ degree work, b) perspectives on the teaching profession, c) perspectives on learning, d) democracy, values and sustainable development, e), group processes, f) leadership and g) scientific writing.
Edling also has teaching experience in education at the Swedish National Agency for Education. Since 2013 she has held a permanent position as a guest lecturer on a master’s course at the University of Granada (Spain) and has been invited as guest professor by Newcastle University, Australia, with the purpose of serving as assistant supervisor to doctoral students. In addition, she has been asked to speak at a conference for graduate students at the University of Limerick (Ireland) and to be a lecturer in the master’s course in didactics at the University of Oslo.