Academic optimism was developed in 2006 as a latent concept that provides insight into the improvement of student outcomes especially for those who, because of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other demographics, have historically been labeled as underperforming. The three main components of academic optimism (academic emphasis, collective emphasis, and faculty trust) underscore the reality that the teachers, parents, and students all play a critical role in the education arena when it comes to ensuring that students fully grow and stretch to the fullest extent possible. High academic optimism in a school suggests that academic achievement is valued and supported; the faculty has the capacity to help students achieve; and students and parents can be trusted as partners of the school for student achievement. Each of these can be controlled by the actions and decisions of school leaders and faculty so that schools can overcome the effects of poverty on student achievement.
Martinette V. Horner, Derrick D. Jordan, and Kathleen M. Brown
Amir A. Gilmore and Pamela J. Bettis
Discourses in the early 21st century surrounding the presumption of childhood innocence were undergirded by antiblackness. The theorization of antiblackness within the context of race, gender, and education has been beneficial to understanding how the mistreatment of Black children and the illegitimacy of Black childhoods within the white American racial imaginary is seemingly justified. Foundational to the United States, antiblackness is a race-based paradigm of racial othering and subjugation through a litany of organized structural violence against Black people. Structured outside the realms of humanity and civil society, Black life, through this paradigm, is regarded as other than human. Arguably, antiblackness shapes all racialized, gendered, sexualized conditions and experiences of all Black people, including the age compression of Black children. Antiblackness scholarship posits that there is an institutional unwillingness to see Black youth as children. Discourses on what it means to be a child, who can occupy that position, and when a particular stage of a child’s development is reached, are all structured against Black youth. Pathologized as deviant, adult-like problems, Black children occupy life in a liminal space, where they are denied childhood status but carry adult-like culpability. As adultified Black youth, they lack autonomy and are not granted leniency to learn from their mistakes like their white peers. With their actions and intentions perceived as deviant, ill-willed, or hypersexual, Black children are susceptible a wide range of violence from school punishment, the criminal justice system, sexual abuse and exploitation, and excessive police force.
Latinx curriculum theorizing is a constellation of curriculum scholarship rooted in the histories, knowledges, and everyday lives of peoples from across the Latin American diaspora. It is a framework that pushes back against demonizing stereotypes, caricatures, and colonial generalizations of an entire diaspora. Born out of resistance and liberation, it comes from the histories and practices of Latinx peoples in creating counternarratives, education reform, and activism. Specifically, Latinx curriculum theorizing includes the following: (a) Latinidad as a collective point of entry, (b) Latinx as a term, (c) history and circumstance as curricular knowledge, (d) counternarratives and testimonio as curriculum theorizing, (e) cultural knowledges of Latinx students and community as theory, (f) cultural knowledges of Latinx teachers, and (g) Latinx communities generating critical pedagogies and education initiatives. Latinx curriculum theorizing draws from a variety of Latinx philosophical traditions, including critical race theory, Latina feminist philosophy, Latinx and Chicanx studies, and various strands of Latin American, Continental, Caribbean, and Africana philosophy. While scholars who do Latinx curriculum theorizing are trained in theories such as critical race theory, feminist theory, and post- and decolonial theories, because of the subject matter and the people, this framework is the next step up in putting such foundational theories into conversation with one another. It is therefore a newly emerging framework, in the early 21st century, because it draws upon all these perspectives to account for a very transitionary, contradictory, and messy Latinx experience. What makes something distinctly Latinx curriculum is an engagement with a state of transition and liminal spaces, both pedagogically and epistemologically, with the varied and multilayered trajectories of Latin American-origin realities. Far from being a monolithic and static framework, Latinx curriculum theorizing is itself malleable, contested, and in transition. Just as Latinx itself is a contested term within academic and activist spaces, Latinx curriculum theorizing is a point of contestation that makes it a framework with porous boundaries that can explain and even redefine the Latinx educational experience. As such, Latinx curriculum lends itself to nuanced analysis and praxis for issues of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, language, migration, racial hierarchies, and colonial legacies. This type of curriculum theorizing also points to power structures from multiple social locations and offers pathways for social change and liberation.
Page Valentine Regan and Elizabeth J. Meyer
The concepts of queer theory and heteronormativity have been taken up in educational research due to the influence of disciplines including gender and sexuality studies, feminist theory, and critical race theory. Queer theory seeks to disrupt dominant and normalizing binaries that structure our understandings of gender and sexuality. Heteronormativity describes the belief that heterosexuality is and should be the preferred system of sexuality and informs the related male or female, binary understanding of gender identity and expression. Taken together, queer theory and heteronormativity offer frames to interrogate and challenge systems of sex and gender in educational institutions and research to better support and understand the experiences of LGBTQ youth. They also inform the development of queer pedagogy that includes classroom and instructional practices designed to expand and affirm gender and sexual diversity in schools.
Venus E. Evans-Winters
When recognizing the cultural political agency of Black women and girls from diverse racial and ethnic, gender, sexual, and socioeconomic backgrounds and geographical locations, it is argued that intersectionality is a contributing factor in the mitigation of educational inequality. Intersectionality as an analytical framework helps education researchers, policymakers, and practitioners better understand how race and gender intersect to derive varying amounts of penalty and privilege. Race, class, and gender are emblematic of the three systems of oppression that most profoundly shape Black girls at the personal, community, and social structural levels of institutions. These three systems interlock to penalize some students in schools while privileging other students. The intent of theoretically framing and analyzing educational problems and issues from an intersectional perspective is to better comprehend how race and gender overlap to shape (a) educational policy and discourse, (b) relationships in schools, and (c) students’ identities and experiences in educational contexts. With Black girls at the center of analysis, educational theorists and activists may be able to better understand how politics of domination are organized along other axes such as ethnicity, language, sexuality, age, citizenship status, and religion within and across school sites. Intersectionality as a theoretical framework is informed by a variety of standpoint theories and emancipatory projects, including Afrocentrism, Black feminism and womanism, critical race theory, queer theory, radical Marxism, critical pedagogy, and grassroots’ organizing efforts led by Black, Indigenous, and other women of color throughout US history and across the diaspora.
Sara Tolbert, Paulina Grino, and Tenzin Sonam
Since the late 20th century, scholarship in science education has made considerable shifts from cognitive psychology and individual constructivism toward sociocultural theories of science education as frameworks for science teaching and learning. By and large, this scholarship has attended to the ways in which both doing and learning science are embedded within sociocultural contexts, whereby learners are enculturated into scientific practices through classroom-based or scientific learning communities, such as through an apprenticeship model. Still, science education theories and practice do not systematically take into account the experiences, interests, and concerns of marginalized student groups within science and science education. Critical sociocultural perspectives in science education take up issues and questions of how science education can better serve the interests of marginalized groups, while simultaneously creating spaces for marginalized groups to transform the sciences, and science education. These shifts in science education scholarship have been accompanied by a similar shift in qualitative research methods. Research methods in science education are transitioning from a focus on positivistic content analysis of learners’ conceptions of core ideas in science, toward more robust qualitative methods—such as design experimentation, critical ethnography, and participatory research methods—that show how learners’ identities are constituted with the complex spaces of science classrooms, as well as within larger societal matrices of oppression. The focus of this article is to communicate these recent trends in sociocultural perspectives on science education theory, research, and practice.