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Paola Valero and Auli Arvola Orlander
How mathematics and science curricula connect to democracy and justice is understood through the examination of different perspectives of mathematics and science education as political. Although frequently conceived of as neutral, these school subjects have been central in recent modern education for governing the making of rational, science-minded citizens who are necessary for social, political, and economic progress. Three main perspectives are identified in the existing research literature. A perspective of empowerment highlights the power that people can acquire by learning and using mathematics and science. A perspective of disadvantage focuses on how the pedagogies of mathematics and science intersect with categories such as ability, gender, class, ethnicity, and race to generate and reproduce marginalization. A perspective of subjectivation examines the effects of mathematics and science curricula within the context of historical and cultural processes for the making of desired modern, rational, and techno-scientific types of citizens, thus creating categories of inclusion and exclusion. All together, these perspectives point to the ways in which mathematics and science, as privileged forms of knowing in contemporary school curricula, simultaneously operate to include or exclude different types of students.
Carlos Azcoitia, Karen Carlson, and Ted Purinton
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Effective community school leaders build strong, reciprocal, and sustainable partnerships to support student growth and strengthen families and communities. Developing authentic alliances among teachers, parents, and community stakeholders builds a climate of trust and positive relationships to strengthen democratic schools. Educational outcomes are influenced by social and academic contexts as well as school and non-school factors. The greatest influence on students is the family, and the greatest influence on the family is the community. The combination of a quality learning experience in the classroom with the integration of families and community is critical for student success.
Community school leaders cross traditional role boundaries and build cross-cultural fluency while balancing managerial concerns, navigating politics and external accountability pressures, and fostering shared accountability. Community organizing strategies enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods, empower parents to take an active role in the education of their children, and build a sense of belonging, equitable practices, and a focus on social justice education.
Successful leaders make this look easy, yet the interplay of a leader’s knowledge base, skill sets, and dispositions to transform the school community is complex.
In South Africa, new legislation and policies on inclusive education in the post-apartheid era since 1994 have placed a strong emphasis on equity, equality, and human rights, as defined in the South African Constitution. As a result, a White Paper on building an inclusive education and training system was published in 2001. It acknowledges the failure of the education system to respond to the barriers to learning and development experienced by a substantial number of learners, including diverse learning needs caused by, for example, language, socioeconomic, or gender issues as well as disabilities. This policy document describes inclusive education as being based on the ideals of equity and equality and as a result recognizing and respecting learner and learning diversity within mainstream schools. As stated in the policy, in practice this means identifying and removing barriers in the education system to ensure that the full range of diverse learning needs are met in mainstream classrooms as well as providing support to learners and teachers in addressing barriers to learning and development.
Research studies on the implementation of inclusive education in South Africa, however, are finding that despite the development of a wide range of implementation guidelines since 2007, complex interrelated issues continue to complicate the development of successful inclusive schools. These issues include a continued divergence of views of inclusive education with a continuing strong belief in special education and separate educational settings by most teachers, therefore leading to a resultant lack of clarity regarding the implementation of inclusive education at the level of local practice in schools and classrooms. These differences in the understanding of inclusive education and its enactment in diverse school contexts also bring the question of power and agency into South African debates about inclusive education: who should decide which version of inclusive education should be the goal of the development of inclusive education in a specific school district or a specific school. Furthermore, contextual issues including the lack of financial and human resources, for example effectively trained teachers, effectively functioning district educational support teams for schools in specific school districts, lack of textbooks, and overcrowded classrooms, play a dominant role in the development of effective inclusive schools.
I-Hsuan Cheng and Sheng-Ju Chan
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Several Asian countries work in partnership with international development agencies to develop human capital for their national development. Human capital theory emphasizes the importance of education and training to improve the workforce skills and productivity of workers participating in the changing global knowledge economy and 21st-century capitalism. Accordingly, a relevant place to start is with an analysis of relevant human capital theories, followed by a presentation of the different aid modalities and projects of education and training (from higher education projects to other human capital development projects) practiced by the Asian national governments in cooperation with their international development counterparts. Finally, key are the implications of future formulations and implementation of development assistance projects for developing human capital in the developing world.
David Middlewood and Ian Abbott
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Schools where staff members are heavily committed to their own learning as much as the students’ are seen as professional learning communities. The development of staff learning occurs through continuous examination of and reflection on practice and sharing the outcomes with colleagues. This examination often takes the form of structured in-house professional learning inquiry, leading to the growth of a research-based culture, enabling professional insights and leading to school improvement. School leaders are important in facilitating and developing such cultures.
Collaboration between schools, including those in quite different contexts, is growing rapidly this century, and where the collaborating schools are learning communities, the potential enrichment for all involved, within a federation or academy chain for example, is considerable. Such communities and the collaboration between them take time to develop, and barriers to progress exist, including a tension between collaboration and competition in some systems. The answer lies in a commitment to mutual learning, to the benefit of all those concerned, including the students themselves.
There are clear theoretical and practical implications associated with the way that people make inferences and decisions. In addition, there are a variety of very different developmental theories that attempt to model how the underlying competencies change over time. The starting point for these discussions is the well-documented tendency for people to make a combination of logical and nonlogical inferences and judgments. Logical inferences refer to conclusions that are logically valid, which are, theoretically at least, a product only of the syntactic structure of the components of the inference. Nonlogical inferences are inferences that reflect personal knowledge and/or individual biases, and that produce conclusions that are not necessarily valid. Scientific and mathematical disciplines rely on the use of logically valid inferences, and the existence of strong tendencies toward making nonlogical inferences has clear educational implications. The most common ways of understanding the interplay between these two forms of inference are general dual process frameworks, which postulate the coexistence of two systems of inference-making, a heuristic and an analytic system, which function very differently and can produce different responses to the same problem. The analytic system is generally considered to be responsible for the potential to make logically valid inferences. However, a variety of developmental theories provide different approaches to just how logical reasoning might develop. The key concepts for each theory are very different, and it is important to understand how these differences can be articulated, in the light of the key empirical results. Finally, each of these different approaches has very different educational implications.
Dialogic education is a relatively new force in educational theory and practice. Despite the variety of approaches to dialogic education, it nonetheless offers a coherent theory of education with implications not only for how education should be practiced but also for the purposes of education. Dialogic education takes place through dialogue which means opening up dialogic spaces in which different perspectives can clash or play together and new learning can occur. But dialogic education is not only education through dialogue, it is also education for dialogue, meaning that as a result of dialogic education learners become better at learning together with others through dialogue. The intellectual background of dialogic education theory goes back at least as far as Socrates and includes thinkers as varied as Freire, who saw dialogic education as a means of liberation from oppression, and Oakeshott, who understood education to be a process of engaging learners in their cultural inheritance, described as “the conversation of mankind.” Bakhtin, an influential source for recent dialogic educational theory, argues that meaning requires the clash and interaction of multiple voices. There are a range of approaches to implementing dialogic education, varying in the extent to which they focus on teacher to student dialogue, small group dialogues, and whole class dialogues. All approaches include some idea of (1) a dialogic orientation toward the other, characterized by an openness to the possibility of learning, and (2) social norms that support productive dialogue. Published assessments of the impact of dialogic education in relation to general thinking skills, curriculum learning gains, and conceptual understanding have been positive. However, the assessment of dialogic education raises methodological issues, and new methodologies are being developed that align better with dialogic theory and with the idea of measuring increased dialogicity, or expanded “dialogic space.” Assuming that dialogic education works to promote educational goals, various hypotheses have been suggested as to how it works, including some that focus on the co-construction of new meaning through explicit language use, others that focus more on changes in the identity of students, and others on changes in the possibilities of engagement afforded by the culture of classrooms. There are many issues and controversies raised by dialogic education. One issue is the extent to which dialogue as a goal is compatible with a curriculum that pre-specifies certain learning outcomes. Another is the extent to which teaching a set of social norms and practices promoting dialogue might be a kind of cultural imperialism that fails to recognize and value the culture of the students. These and other challenges to dialogic education are part of a lively and constructive debate in the field, which values a multiplicity of voices within the broader context of convergence on the value of teaching through dialogue and teaching for dialogue.
Differentiated instruction encompasses a wide range of responsive pedagogies, including individualized types and levels of curricula, teaching methods, materials, and assessment strategies. It has as its roots the impetus for effective inclusive schooling, providing supports directly within general education classrooms for students with the full range of exceptionalities (both significant disabilities and giftedness) and other diverse educational characteristics such as cultural and linguistic background and socioeconomic status. General education classes that effectively include students with higher levels of need require comparably higher levels of supports.
The legal and ethical bases for inclusive schooling are connected with various civil rights movements (including race, disability, culture, language, and gender); it can be viewed as a response to segregated schooling. Schools frequently remove students when traditional educational programs fail, adding on separate programs rather than rectifying the core programs themselves. Such special programs have been routinely promulgated without substantial evidence of their effectiveness over supportive general education classrooms.
Important aspects of differentiated instruction and inclusive schooling include multilevel instruction; authentic and culturally responsive curricula, methods, and assessment; universal design for learning; tiered assignments; assistive and instructional technologies; positive behavioral supports; and a collaborative team approach to instructional decision making and delivery. Debates within and surrounding differentiated instruction and inclusive schooling include both the range of curricula and the level of supports provided in general education classrooms.
Ultimately, differentiated instruction and effective inclusive schooling bring more responsive curricula, methods, and perspectives to increasingly diverse general education classrooms. They are vital for equitable access to educational opportunities.
Fiona Scott and Jackie Marsh
The study of digital literacies in early childhood (0–8 years) is an emergent and fast-growing area of scholarship. Young children’s communicative practices are today more complex and diverse in scope than ever before, encompassing both “traditional” reading and writing and a growing range of “new” communicative competencies across multiple digital media contexts. Scholars are increasingly interested in children’s literacy practices outside traditional print-based texts, and the theory of multimodality helps them to understand children’s communicative practices in relation to a range of modes, including those present in digital technology. At the same time, the boundaries between what constitutes “digital” and “traditional” literacies are themselves blurred. Multiple academic disciplines have contributed to our understanding of children’s digital literacy practices. Numerous definitions for digital literacy or literacies exist, and scholars have proposed a range of theoretical approaches to the topic. Bill Green’s “3D model” of literacy provides a useful starting point for understanding the different dimensions of children’s digital literacy: operational, cultural, and critical.
It is acknowledged that children’s digital literacy practices are specific to particular social and cultural contexts. In particular, scholars have identified important differences between accepted literacy practices in schools and early years’ settings (“school literacies”) and children’s literacy practices in a socioculturally diverse range of home settings (“home literacies”). A growing field of research is explicitly concerned with the unique skills developed at home, as children learn to produce and interpret a range of “new” digital and multimodal texts. At the same time, numerous scholars have suggested that there is still a general lack of progress with regard to early years’ practitioners’ use of technology in the curriculum. Gaps and absences in knowledge still exist, and it will be important for scholars over the coming years to continue research into young children’s digital literacy practices, both in homes and communities and across early years’ settings.
Pamela J. Bettis and Nicole Ferry
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of the international bestseller, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (2013), argues that women need to engage more actively in the workplace and take the professional and emotional risks required in leadership. In many ways, Sandberg’s own story is the fulfillment of the promise of the “Alpha Girl,” Harvard psychologist Dan Kindlon’s name for the new face of girlhood. Kindlon maintains that contemporary young Western women have initiated a new era of female empowerment, with girls interested mainly in future careers and not romantic relationships. Meanwhile, the U.S. public discourse pertaining to boys frames them as troubled and in need of more attention. The popular press notes that girls outperform boys in school; that boys are more likely to repeat a grade; more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability; and more likely to be expelled, suspended, and disciplined in school. Furthermore, adolescents who do not adhere to gender normativity or who identify as transgender are continually neglected in mainstream considerations of youth, school policies, curriculum, and educational spaces. Over the course of recent decades, U.S. discourses of adolescence and gender, including those found in popular and academic discussions, have shifted. As girls become the new models of success, as boys are deemed worthy of extra attention, and as gender-transgressive students remain absent from the discussions altogether, it is imperative that educators keep abreast of these changing discourses that shape the way we talk about and understand youth.
Anthony J. Magana III
Of the many stated purposes of organized educational systems, one that might meet with general agreement is this: to ensure students build abundant learning capacity, achieve ample academic proficiency, and consolidate the requisite knowledge, skills, and aptitudes to successfully address future learning challenges. As computer technologies have transformed nearly every human endeavor imaginable, future learning challenges that students encounter will almost certainly require facility with digital technologies. Sadly, in the realm of teaching and learning, digital tool use has been trivial in nature; the average impact of computer technology on student achievement has been both derisory and unchanged for the past 50 years, despite astonishing technological developments since the 1960s.
However, there is cause for renewed optimism about technology use in education. Compounding evidence suggests that large to very large gains in student achievement are possible when digital tools are leveraged to enhance highly reliable instructional and learning strategies. The objective of the investigation efforts here is to develop a more precise language and set of ideas to discuss, enact, and evaluate high-impact uses of digital tools in education. The result is the T3 Framework for Innovation in Education. The T3 Framework increments the impact of technology use into three hierarchical domains: Translational, Transformational, and Transcendent. Compounding evidence suggests that implementing the strategies in the T3 Framework, with reasonable fidelity, will likely increase the impact of digital technologies to unlock students’ limitless capacities for learning and contribution, and better prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s learning challenges.
Kathleen Gallagher, Rachel Rhoades, Sherry Bie, and Nancy Cardwell
The field of drama education and applied theater is best understood through a consideration of the major developments and aspirations that have shaped its trajectory over three historical periods: the latter years of the 19th century up until 1960, between 1960 and 1990, and the years encompassing the turn of the 21st century, 1990–2015, which was a decidedly more globalized epoch. The drama education/applied theater scholarship of the English-speaking world, including the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and North America, offers a fascinating distillation of the relationship between making drama and learning, including the history of alternative forms of education. Scholarship from Asia drawing on traditional forms of theater-making, as well as imported and adapted structures of Western drama education movements, speak to hybrid and ever-expanding practices across the globe.
Although young as a discipline within the academy, drama education/applied theater has all but made up for its relative immaturity by spanning a wide domain of multidisciplinary thinking, embracing an eclectic theoretical field that covers an enormous breadth of social issues and a vast range of learning theories, while straddling a compelling spectrum of political positions. The development of the field is infused with pioneering ideas that broke with entrenched historical traditions and habitual ways of learning, harkening toward new ways of thinking, being, relating, and creating. Taking the world as its source material and humanity as its target audience, the history of the progressive discipline of drama education/applied theater tells the story of an ambitious, flawed, idealized, politicized, divisive, and deeply humanistic scholarly and practice-driven field.
Hannu Simola, Jaakko Kauko, Janne Varjo, Mira Kalalahti, and Fritjof Sahlström
The international debate on Finnish educational “success” had made relevant a cultural and historical analysis of Finnish education, with a focus on the effects of the ongoing preoccupation with the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results on basic education. Such international comparisons demand a strong theoretical approach, in part because the contrastive analysis of empirical “facts” and “realities” requires that they be situated in relation to their local and, in this case, national systems and contexts. It may be assumed that the quantitative indicators agreed on in intergovernmental negotiations between senior bureaucrats do indeed provide valid comparisons of education systems, as is the conventional wisdom in the field of economics. Nevertheless, these remain value-loaded collections of indicators of development that offer at best parallel lines of comparative analysis. The Finnish case argues for strong theory-based conceptualizations as the basis for, first, complex comparison and, second, shared models of policy action and intervention.
The comparative education field faces four interlinked challenges. First, there is a lack of theory building and development in the field, where politically and ideologically motivated investigative large-scale assessment practices are defining the state of the art. Second, the focus of the studies tends to be on empirically measurable end products instead of documented processes, which makes it possible to generate competitive rankings but reveals little about specific and shared developmental processes in educational systems. Third, although complexity and contingency are widely accepted in the social world on the general level, they appear to seldom reach empirical studies; the vast majority of standard approaches still advocate simple explanatory models. Finally, and paradoxically enough, there is a form of intellectual nationalism that inhibits the conceptualization and understanding of the relationship between, for example, transnational processes and nation-states. In this regard, comparative education needs a strong and ambitious theory-based framework with the potential to incorporate sociohistorical complexity, cultural relationality, and sociological contingency. Without a strong theory-driven approach, it is hard to go beyond merely listing the similarities and differences that facilitate the rankings but blur the processes.
At the research unit for Sociology and Politics in Education (KUPOLI) at the University of Helsinki, a new conceptualization was formulated in early 2010s and an ambitious research plan, Comparative Analytics of Dynamics in Education Politics (CADEP), was launched. The thesis was that to progress beyond the state of the art and arrive at a comparative understanding of educational systems, it would be necessary to focus on dynamics, with a view to grasping the fluid and mobile nature of the subject. This heuristic starting point echoed relativistic dynamics in physics, characterized as a combination of relativistic and quantum theories to describe the relationships between the principal elements of a relativistic system and the forces acting on it. It is curious that, though on the conceptual level the dynamics of a system are constantly referred to as being among its key attributes, there has been little progress on the analytical level in the social sciences since the seminal work of Pitirim Sorokin in the 1950s. The CADEP develops conceptually the theoretical understanding of dynamics to resubmit a specific social field of education to scrutiny by analyzing the relations between the main actors and institutions and essential discursive formations and practices. It is assumed that given its connection with relations and movement, the concept of dynamics will not reduce a mobile and fluid subject of study to a stagnant and inanimate object. There are four constitutive dynamics that make the Finnish educational success story understandable. Success and failure in basic education seem to be relative, and to reflect intertwined dynamics in policymaking, governance, families’ educational strategies, and classroom cultures. The emphasis of the understanding is on the contingent, relational, and complex character of political history.
Clarence W. Joldersma
Education needs an ethical orientation that can help it grapple better with global environmental issues such as climate change and decreasing biodiversity, something called earth ethics. The term ethics is used in an unusual manner, to mean a normativity more basic than concrete norms, principles, or rules for living. The idea of earth is also used in an unusual way, as a kind of concealing, a refusal to disclose itself, while at the same time, constituting a kind of interference with the familiarity of the world. The idea of earth plays on the contrast between living on earth and living in the world. The latter involves the familiar concerns and actions of culture and work, of politics and economics. Earth ethics becomes a call to responsibility coming from the earth—a call to let the earth and earthlings be, to acknowledge their refusal to answer our questions or fit easily into our worldly projects, and to recognize their continuing mystery as beings with their own intrinsic worth.
The idea of earth ethics is developed through attending to a set of human experiences. First is an experience of gratefulness toward the earth. This gratefulness not only reveals our finitude, but also our indebtedness to the grace-filled support the earth continually gives us for our worldly projects and concerns. This reveals earth as our home, a dwelling we share with other earthlings. This reveals earth’s fundamental fragility. What seems solid and dependable from a worldly perspective shows up as vulnerability from an earthly viewpoint. The experiences of gratefulness to and fragility of the earth gives rise to feeling a call to responsibility, the core of earth ethics. Earth ethics is a call of responsibility to the earth, one that grows out of our debt of gratitude and the earth’s fragility. It is this normative call that might guide education in its grappling with environmental issues.
Jennifer Hatten-Flisher and Rebecca A. Martusewicz
Ecofeminism is a theoretical, political, and educational movement that draws specific parallels between the domination of women and other marginalized groups, and the degradation of nature. While much of ecofeminist thought is focused on examining the interconnectivity between social and environmental injustices, ecofeminism is as vast and varied as its feminist and ecological roots. Yet, ecofeminism is not without its critics. After being widely accused of essentializing women’s relationship with nature, the term fell out of favor with a lot of scholars in the 1990s. Those who have remained loyal to the term have argued that this was an unfair mischaracterization of the larger foundational ideas within ecofeminist work.
Given the global environmental and social crises currently sweeping the planet, ecofeminism offers important, albeit diverse, theoretical, practical, and pedagogical perspectives for developing effective responses to such interrelated crises. As such, scholars across a variety of disciplines are revisiting (and reclaiming) ecofeminist thought. In the field of education, ecofeminism is influencing the ways that we approach questions of justice by offering an intersectional framework that insists on recognizing the interconnected roots of racism, sexism, poverty, ablism, and other social problems with ecological degradation. An ethics of care is woven throughout to form the basis of a pedagogy of responsibility whereby students learn to both critique these cultural foundations of violence and identify practices and relationships that help to create healthy sustainable communities.
Bruce Burnett and Jo Lampert
A great deal of scholarship informs the idea that specific teacher preparation is required for working in high-poverty schools. Many teacher-education programs do not focus exclusively on poverty. However, a growing body of research emphasizes how crucial it is that teachers understand the backgrounds and communities in which young people and their families live, especially if they are to teach equitably, without bias, and with a critical understanding of historical educational disadvantage. Research on teacher education for high-poverty schools is largely associated with social-justice education and premised on two key assumptions. The first is that teachers do make a difference and should be encouraged to see themselves as agents of change. The second is that without nuanced knowledge of poverty and disadvantage, and especially its intersection with race, teachers are prepared as though all students and all communities have equal social advantage. Through targeted teacher education, social justice teachers aquire the knowledge, skills and attributes to understand what they can and cannot do. Teachers with strong communities of practice and agency can resist the idea that they can eradicate poverty on their own, but can enact teaching in ways that are equitable and respectful, culturally responsive and safe. It is increasingly possible to observe how debates propose or challenge how preservice teachers should learn about high-poverty contexts. There are also numerous models, globally, of what works in preparing teachers for high-poverty schools; however, providing evidence or proving how specialized teacher preparation affects the educational outcomes of high-poverty students is difficult.
China has a long history of education, and its institutionalized educational administration can be traced back more than 2,000 years. Since then, the educational administration system has evolved with the development of society, politics, economy, and culture, and an educational administration system with significant Chinese characteristics has been formed.
The current educational administration system in China is stipulated by different laws and regulations of the country. The State Council and local governments are responsible for guiding and administering educational work at various levels and according to particular administrative principles. Such an educational administration system in China is related not only to the history of the centralized culture, but also to the administration system of the country.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the world is undergoing profound changes, and China is currently at a key stage for reform and development. World multi-polarization, globalization of economy, development of knowledge economy, dramatic changes in science and technology, competition for talent worldwide, and industrialization, informatization, urbanization, marketization, and internationalization trends in China all pose severe challenges to education and its administration. At the same time, there remain some serious problems to be solved in educational administration.
Facing these challenges and problems, the Chinese government has called for reforms to promote and modernize the educational governance system. The new educational governance system emphasizes empowerment, autonomy, shared governance, social participation in policy making, and administration.
Educational biopolitics is a growing field of study that explores the intersections of education, life, and power. A central question this literature has formed is a powerful, albeit familiar one: what types of life do schools validate, and what types of life do schools attempt to negate? Given this focus, the concept of educational life has emerged as one of the key units of analysis that informs inquiries in this field. There are two predominant modes of engagement that characterize studies in educational biopolitics: (a) analytical endeavors that seek to understand the operation of contemporary logics of biopower (a power over life) in schools and (b) affirmative educational endeavors that seek to highlight the potential of life to create power. Each approach begins with an understanding that schools do more than transmit knowledge; they are sites of struggle over the production, reproduction, and management of subjectivity. These approaches have led to unique inquiries that explore a number of tangentially related themes and make use of various concepts, including disposability, extractive schooling, and the common.
The nature of practices of educational leaders and their outcome in terms of productivity and teacher motivation are greatly shaped by the sociocultural norms that regulate them. The sociocultural norms proposed by Hofstede are widely considered as the benchmark for national cultural examination and comparison, which suggests that collectivist cultures are characterized by higher scores on power distance and uncertainty avoidance, and lower on individualism, masculinity, long-term orientation, and indulgence. These dimensions may exert positive, negative, or mixed influence, especially on organizations such as schools that constitute intricate work structures with a variety of stakeholders influencing them from multiple directions.
Educational leadership for effective change in school requires the ability to integrate traditional sociocultural norms with the global principles for effective outcomes. Providing autonomous work environments has been widely found to be the most effective of these principles that lead to higher productivity and enhanced teacher motivation. In the context of work-organization, self-determination theory (SDT) has emerged as an effective motivational theory that proposes autonomy, competence, and relatedness as three universal psychological needs; satisfaction of these needs would predict optimal outcomes. Just like their individualistic culture counterparts, it is possible for school leaders in predominantly collectivist cultures to function in a need-supporting way for their teachers to yield desired outcomes.
There exists today a critical discourse on educational policy, as it has evolved alongside dominant notions of development and its critique. This dominant notion of development emerged following the Second World War. At that time, the global order was characterized by a cold war, with its bipolar division of a “First World” and a “Second World,” based on ideological grounds. There emerged simultaneously, a conglomerate of countries referred to as the “Third World,” sharing a common colonial past, located mostly in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and viewed to be in need of development. Underdevelopment in these countries was a construct—understood as descriptive structural features of poverty, illiteracy, traditional orientation, among others. Economic growth and modernization were the prescribed measures for development—as if the “Third World” would progress by following the structural features of more “evolved” Western countries.
Education was an important tool in this project, responsible for creating the appropriate civic attitudes both for modernization and for stimulating economic growth. The human capital theory was an economic variant of the ideas of modernization—it underscored the notion that investments in education were akin to physical capital; these would yield future benefits to society. There was an abundant desire amongst the political elites of these newly independent countries to provide for mass education as a way of liberation and progress. National education policies, and systems to implement them, were set up incorporating these ideas. Leading international organizations—such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN Development Programme (UNDP), later the World Bank, and now the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), helped translate these ideas into policy choices and influence agenda setting for educational policy.
By the 1990s, there was abundant critique of modernization as development and of national systems of education as systems of power bereft of normative ideas about the intrinsic value of education. This gap was filled by the capabilities approach enunciated by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. The capabilities approach argues that the ends of development are not simply economic growth, but the expansion of opportunities and substantive freedoms. Education is intrinsic to the development of capabilities and for substantive freedoms. Since the 1990s, the capabilities approach and the human development paradigm have been guiding influences in development policy and education. Education policies influenced by the human development paradigm recognize the complex challenges poor people face and do not advance a fixed template of policy prescriptions in the name of development.
Following the Education For All conference in 1990 and, a decade later, the adoption of Millennium Development Goals in 2000, there have been significant efforts, on a global scale, toward converging the educational policy ideas and actions of international agencies and national governments. Simultaneously, the expansion of globalization on an unprecedented scale now influences education policy in unanticipated ways, as the nation-state declines in importance. In an era of global governance, transnational policies on education that emphasize learning achievements, benchmarking, and testing are gaining currency. National education systems may no longer matter. Globalization, especially its alliance with neo-liberalism, also finds strong criticism from social movements and from scholars who question development, argue in favor of post-development, and call for respect and recognition of diversity of competing epistemes of learning.