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From the HPS to the HfH – An Analysis of a School-Cultural Transformation Process

Background and aims

The heilpädagogischen Seminar Zürich (HPS) mutates into the Interkantonale Hochschule für Heilpädagogik (HfH) - A dissertation project commissioned by the HfH
The Heilpädagogische Seminar Zürich (HPS) on the way to the Interkantonalen Hochschule für Heilpädagogik (HfH) – a school-cultural revolution? Das Heilpädagogische Seminar Zürich, an educational institution with over 70 years tradition, stood at a threshold at the end of the 1990s: the organisation was transformed from a seminar institution into a high school, accompanied by radical school-cultural changes. A traditional institutional "seminar culture" gave way to a "high school culture", with which the new (or "new-old") values and norms are united with a new organisational structure, an extended curriculum and a new geographical location.


The dissertation project analyses this transformation process on the basis of school rituals that mark radical breaks in a time of institutional change. A further source of data are group discussions that examine the participants' views of the phase of transition. The discussion about school culture provides the theoretical background; methodically, qualitative techniques are used, in particular ethnographic and hermeneutic- reconstructive techniques.


The aim of the project is two-fold: on the one hand to present an analysis of the "transition culture" on the other to contribute to the improvement of the affected individuals' practice by educating them about the specific characteristics of school culture.

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