Educational Science

Videography of Practices of Working on Relationships in Secondary Schools

research goal

The research goal of the VideoRelation project is the reconstrunction and the subsequent figuration of the practices of care and working on relationships or relationship structures in secondary schools. These practices will be surveyed by Focused Videography, amongst other methods. Specific figurations of relationship practice are compared under a school subject-specific and international perspective. In this way, transformation processes of relationship structures within a world increasingly determined by digital media can be explored empirically and theoretically. The comparative perspective also provides the opportunity to describe the conditions of failure and success for relationship work in schools. The resulting video material will also be used in teacher's training to make the topic "teacher-pupil-relations" accessible for reflection and to bring it back into the practical discourse.

starting point

In 2020 the topic of digitization dominates the public discourse on educational offers. Schools have a public mandate to no longer present themselves as an area of development but as media competent players and mediators of future-relevant media-related skills. The call is not new per se, but the pandemic-related processes, with the consequence that schools now increasingly responding to this call. While a broad public welcomes the digital changes as long overdue, the call and its implementation, especially from a social science perspective, can be read rather critically as an expression of the economization of school education since the turn of the millenium with a focus on (self-) optimization (among other things) and the discourse of individualization (among other things).

However, not only in school practices but also in research, a focus on digitization in the sense of an investigation of human-machine interactions on different level (didactics, education, etc.) and technologies can be seen. But this narrows the view on school activities. Relationship and care work (here understood as taking care of children and adolescents), which is also a part of school practice, is often marginalized, especially in secondary education, both by the professionals themselves and in research.

At the same time there semmes to be a need not to lose sight of this component - despite or perhaps because of the narratives of the digitization pervading society: Alternative school forms that focus on the needs of children and young people within their framework of pedagogical concepts are booming. Salutogenic concepts are introduced in schools in the form of special subjects or are integrated as smaller learning units into existing school-subject cultures which, from the point of view of the actors, are "particularly suited" to this purpose, or into other school-related offers. The system thus relies on a decreasing school satisfaction (partly empirically proven: cf. OECD 2019), which properly is closely related to the physical and mental health of pupils (cf. e.g. Rathmann et al. 2018) and an increased stress perception of all school actors (cf. Seiffge-Kränke 2008).

research question

But how do practices of caring and/or relationship work and their fugurations manifest themselves in everday life in secondary schools? Are there differences depending on class level, school subject, and how experienced the respective school is with salutogenic concepts? There are no answers to this question yet because the care and relationship work of teachers has hardly been investigated. In the German-speaking area, there are only scattered studies at primary schools (cd. Althans et al. 2016), while secondary schools are hardly considered. This is what the VideoRelation project wants to change. It pursues the thesis that the focus on mindfulness, mental, and physical health, and satisfaction also changes the relationship between teachers and pupils. It also wants to investigate the thesis that the arrangement of relationships has a disciplinary context.

field of research

School subjects and school-related programs that explicitly address mindfulness and relationship work have a longer tradition at schools in the Anglo-Saxon language area than in Germany (cf. e.g. Durlack et al. 2016). A look at these programs is worthwhile insofar as possible school development potentials can be described and analyzed. Potentially contrasting practices and (school) cultural differences can be presented in detail through intercultural comparison. The VideoRelation project therefore explores practices of relationship formation in the classrooms of secondary schools in Germany and the UK (further studies in other countries are planned). Selection criterion: The subject "Happiness/Awareness/Psychoeducation/Social and Emotional Learning/Well-being" is taught or at least part of a program.

research tools: theory and methods

The project connects itself on theories in which care practices and an ethic of mindfulness are described as feminized everyday practices (Althans et al. 2016, Toppe 2010, Rendtdorff 2006, Gilligan 1982). Besides, professional theories are included that see teachers as relationship workers (Miller 2011, Ziehe 1996). However, at the center of the theoretical discussion in practices of care and relationship work are the theoretical considerations of Idel, Reh, Rabenstein, and others (e.g. Reh et al. 2015), who describe practices as an expression of a specific learning culture.

The practices of relationship work are surveyed by focused videography (see Carvalho 2017). These ethnographically based observations (see also Mohn 2008) will be supplemented by interviews with school administrators/principles and teachers to be able to analyze discursive practices in the field.


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  • Mohn, Bina Elisabeth (2008): Die Kunst des dichten Zeigens. Aus der Praxis kamera-ethnographischer Blickentwürfe. In: Binder, B./Neuland-Kitzerow, D./Noack, K. (Hrsg.): Kunst und Ethnographie: Zum Verhältnis von visueller Kultur und ethnographischem Arbeiten. Berliner Blätter 46/2008, LIT Verlag, 61-72
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  • Durlack, J. A./Domitrovich, C. E./Weissberg, R. P./Gullotta, T. P. (2016) (Hrsg.): Handbook of Social and Emotional Learning Research and Practice. Guilford Press. New York.
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  • Seiffge-Krenke, Inge (2008): Schulstress in Deutschland: Ursachen, Häufigkeiten und internationale Verortung. Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychatrie 57 (2008) 1, 3-19
  • Toppe, Sabine (2010): Care-Ethik und Bildung - eine neue "Ordnung der Sorge" im Rahmen von Ganztagsbildung? In: Moser, V./Pinhard, I. (Hrsg.): Care - Wer sorgt für wen? Verlag Barbara Budrich, Opladen u.a., 69-86
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TU Kaiserslautern

Fachbereich Sozialwissenschaften

Fachgebiet Pädagogik

Erwin-Schrödinger-Strasse, Geb. 57, Raum 477a

D 67663 Kaiserslautern

Telefon: +49 631 205 5066

E-Mail: isabel.carvalho(at)

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