Learning-by-storying - selvfortællinger og vejledning: En teoretisk analyse af den narrative biografiske pædagogiks relevans for vejledning om valg af videregående uddannelse i senmoderniteten

Agnete Hoffmeyer

Research output: ThesisCandidatusResearch

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The objective of the present thesis is to show how Danish educational counselling and guidance can benefit from being closely connected with a narrative biographical approach  such an approach presenting a pedagogical answer to the problems arising in making existential choices for the development and formation of identity in the late modern age. The main questions are: How can a counsellor of late modernity guide others in making “right” educational choices, when such choices can only be defined subjectively by the individual himself? Moreover, how does this question and underlying point of view accord with or depart from the tradition of Danish educational counselling or other pedagogical ideals of formation?
Traditionally, Danish educational counselling practise has had a paternalistic function of assigning people their “right place” in society based on each individual’s abilities and capacities  i.e., a kind of essentialism. The underlying assumption was that the “right place” is best for the individual’s development. But in addition – and conveniently  the right place fulfilled the pragmatic needs of society. Although the counselling practise has been (and still is) undergoing change, the thesis shows  through different analyses  that contemporary counselling still relies mainly on an essentialistic and pragmatic orientation, and less on the needs of the individual or on humanistic ideals of formation.
Evaluations of the present counselling systems further show that counselling has only little effect on educational choices. The thesis argues that reasons for this could be that contemporary development of identity is based on understandings of the self  self and identity being constructed and created by narratives. Thoretical findings presented here, show that the narration of life histories could have an important impact on the narrator  an impact which affects his actions and decisions. This could be due partially to the focus of narrative structure on the connection between meaning and action, and partially to the interaction between counsellor and counsellee. The reliance on the persons involved in the counselling makes generalisation difficult, but at the same time it is both the strength and the weakness of the biographical narrative approach to counselling  especially in relation to the formation of identity and educational choices  since it leaves room for subjectivity. Subjectivity has the power to either emancipate the individual or reduce the possibilities inherent in the experience derived from his biographical structures, it elucidates the individual’s responsibility to live life according to his plans. But the “right” choices cannot be decided from any narrative. Each person must still make decisions about how to live his life  i.e., how he chooses to narrate life in real action. ‘
Original languageDanish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2004


  • counseling

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