Damijan Štefanc

The third issue of this year’s Journal of Contemporary Educational Studies publishes twelve original articles, eight in Slovenian and four in English. The first article, by Igor Bijuklič, addresses the problems of learning motivation in the light of educational purposes crisis. The topic is important for our environment particularly because it considers the issue of fundamental educational goals and purposes. In the article, the author explores how the concept of learning motivation enters the field of educational purposes, especially how, as he writes, the “lost consensus on the purposes of education” is reflected in the problems that learning motivation tries to resolve. The author first highlights the conceptualizations of motivation and their reductionism such as the behavioural definition of humans and the understanding of various human activities through the concept of needs satisfaction. Then, applying the ideas of humanistic pedagogic tradition, he examines the consequences that instrumental views on education have, defining as they do education with external goals, and how they change the understanding of institutional education.

The second article in this issue is Teachers’ Social, Emotional and Intercultural Competencies: Predictive Value for Job Satisfaction, co-authored by Tina Vršnik Perše, Ana Kozina, Maša Vidmar, Manja Veldin, Tina Pivec, Ana Mlekuž and Urška Štremfel. The authors studied teachers’ social, emotional and intercultural competencies to determine the predictive value of these competencies for teachers’ satisfaction with the work they do. They carried out an empirical study and found that in order to enhance teachers’ job satisfaction, it is important to develop teachers’ skills to describe their feelings, perceptions, expectations, well-being and experiences. This suggests that a systematic approach is required to encourage teachers to develop such competencies, but also to encourage the development of collaborative culture and leadership, which is being increasingly foregrounded, in addition to the emphasis on the student-centred implementation of the educational process.

Students’ views on the teaching profession in primary school is the focus of Anita Mirjanić’s contribution. The author writes that the students’ survey responses she collected show how stereotypical gender roles are still present in society and that skills, work and even professions are linked to gender: the female teacher is thus a prototype of motherhood and the male teacher is a prototype of rationality and strictness. Both primary-school boys and girls perceive emotionality as the key difference between male and female teachers; it is the trait that they attribute significantly more frequently to female teachers. An interesting finding of the study indicates that boys perceive male teachers as role models, while girls do not see female teachers as their role models.

The next article discusses religious education in public schools. Aleš Črnič and Anja Pogačnik undertake an analysis of the Slovenian system in this field and place it in the European context, first presenting some key conceptions of religious education with regard to its orientation, organization and the prevailing approach. They highlight the problem of implicit confessionality of professedly non-confessional religious education models stemming from an unconsidered dominance of the world religions paradigm. The authors sum up the main findings of their comparative analysis of European religious education models before providing a critical analysis of religious education in contemporary Slovenia. They conclude that religious education in Slovenia was well conceived, but it was never fully implemented in practice; therefore, they propose some recommendations for its comprehensive revitalisation.

The authors of the next article, Sonja Pečjak, Tina Pirc and Cirila Peklaj, relate academic achievements in the Slovenian language to metacognitive knowledge about the use of learning strategies. They present the findings of their study on the differences between students with higher and lower academic achievements in the Slovenian language in their metacognitive knowledge about more and less effective learning strategies and the actual use of different strategies during schoolwork. The authors find that there are some significant differences in the perceptions of the effectiveness of the chosen strategies between students with different academic achievements. Less successful students tend to label less appropriate strategies as useful, and vice versa. The authors also find significant differences in the use of metacognitive and motivational strategies and in self-efficacy for regulation and motivation.

A more architecture-oriented article presenting the study of the importance of daylight in preschools and schools was co-written by Živa Kristl and Martina Zbašnik-Senegačnik. The authors argue that the physical space of preschools and schools must provide a pleasant and healthy environment. One of the conditions is the daylighting of the premises, which not only enables visual perception, but also impacts on the psycho-physiological response of the human organism. The article discusses and critically assesses the effects of daylight on children, including common problems with the quality of daylight in schools and preschools, such as glare and overheating. It also reviews the latest findings in the field of non-visual effects of light on children. The authors note that it is hard to provide such conditions in the normal planning process; therefore, they believe that planning guidelines with expert recommendations and relevant starting points for the planning of (pre)schools are urgently needed.

Another article addressing preschool education was written by Mojca Lukan. She examines whether students attending the secondary-school preschool education programme learn and understand the Preschool Curriculum’s solutions regarding gender. First, the author demonstrates how the Preschool Curriculum deals with the issue of gender in individual fields of preschool activities. This is followed by a presentation of the findings of the study conducted among the students attending the secondary-school preschool education programme in Ljubljana. The author was interested in what the students’ knowledge regarding the Curriculum was and how they understood it in the circumstances that require concrete educational action. The findings show that a high percentage of the responding students have learnt the curricular principles, goals and guidelines at a general level. However, the author also highlights that it is important for their teachers to direct the educational process towards the reflection on and operationalization of the content of this curricular document.

The final Slovenian-language article in this issue is from the field of special didactics; in it, Joca Zurc considers some ethical aspects of teaching young instrumental musicians. The author presents the findings of her empirical research study exploring the ways of achieving top results in instrumental music from the aspect of the child’s safety, health consequences and possible risks. Applying qualitative methodology, the author demonstrates that the consequences of intensive instrument playing do not manifest themselves only in numerous sacrifices, but also in health issues, especially spine injuries and backaches. The author’s findings raise the questions of which pedagogic approaches to use in developing children’s musical predispositions so as to respect their developmental needs and fundamental rights and liberties.

The first English-language contribution to this issue is by Dinara Muminova from Uzbekistan. She writes about preschool teachers’ beliefs and practice regarding emergent literacy in the country whose education system is currently undergoing significant reforms after twenty-five years of stagnation. Through her empirical research, the author found much uncertainty in teachers’ reflections on emerging literacy, although they had received short training in the subject. Although the training improved some indices, the author stresses that the overall findings are still unsatisfactory. According to Muminova, this is due to the lack of high-quality, research-based training programmes on emergent literacy, teachers’ misconception of their role in the processes, the absence of stimulative emergent literacy-oriented environments and inadequate curricular foundations.

The last article in this issue of the Journal of Contemporary Educational Studies is a meta-analysis of peer violence, in which Jelena Maksimović and Dragana Dimitrijević attempt to systematise data regarding family and peers as the factors that impact on the expression of violent behaviour. The authors’ findings show that both family and peers are factors that have significant influence on children’s violent behaviour and that the negative effect of peers is more significant when a child lacks family acceptance. In other words, the family has significant influence on an individual’s behaviour; therefore, the authors argue, violence prevention programmes should be directed towards families and creating positive relationships between family members. In these exceptional, coronavirus-marked times, we wish our readers to stay healthy, and we hope that our journal will keep you good company; while public life is being closed down, books – including our journal – should remain wide open!

Dr Damijan Štefanc,

Journal of Contemporary Educational Studies is
published with support of Slovenian Research Agency.