Research material from ethnographic studies of vocational upper secondary educational programmes in Finland and Sweden presented here indicates that the discourse of schoolwork as being either theoretical or practical is firmly fixed. However, the students on the researched programmes were aware of recent changes in the labour market that raise a need for generalisation, or at least knowledge of both practical and theoretical aspects of their programme-specific subjects. They referred to the changes with notions suggesting that a practical and theoretical divide was neither meaningful nor helpful for their education. We discuss how a stereotyped idea of what was thought of as ‘man’s work’ made it difficult for students who wanted to accomplish tasks considered as theoretical and how the teachers’ framing of pedagogic practice intensified or ameliorated this difficulty. We also address the dichotomy between theoretical and practical by contemplating students’ positions within different pedagogical practices. We suggest that some kinds of practices might diminish the dichotomy and could improve the students’ possibilities for fully engaging in their studies.
- 516 Pedagogik