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Article

Homeschooling (home education) is parent-directed, family-based education, and is typically not tax-funded, with parents choosing assistance from other individuals or organizations. Home-based education was nearly extinct in the United States by the 1970s but grew rapidly during the 1990s to about 2.6 million K–12 homeschool students in March of 2020 to then about 5 million in March of 2021. The demographic variety among homeschooling families rapidly increased during the 2000s to the point that in 2016, 41% of homeschool students were of ethnic minority background, with about 79% of those living in nonpoor households, and with parents’ formal education levels similar to national averages. Since the early 2000s, parents’ main reasons for homeschooling have shifted from an emphasis on religious or moral instruction to a somewhat more emphasis on concern about institutional school environments and the academic instruction in schools. Empirical research shows that the home educated, on average, perform above average in terms of academic achievement, social and emotional development, and success into adulthood (including college studies). However, there is scholarly debate about whether enough well-controlled studies have confirmed these overall benefits. Some theories have been proposed to explain the apparent positive effects. They include the concept that elements such as high levels of parental involvement, one-on-one instruction, low student-to-teacher ratios, effective use of time, more academic learning time, customization of learning experiences, and a safe and comfortable learning environment that are systemically a part of home-based education are conducive to children thriving in many ways. However, more research is needed to test these theories.

Article

In this overview, we examine action research and curriculum development from the last 50 years in various national and educational settings. Both action research (AR) and curriculum development are explored in diverse ways, depending on academic traditions and national contexts and languages. Hence, curriculum is differently conceptualized in, for example, English vis-à-vis Nordic traditions. The concept of curriculum development may, in the tradition of action research as an orientation toward educational change, incorporate both planned and unplanned student learning and practices of teachers. Several international scholar contributions as well as 50 journal articles from all around the world are explored. The point of departure, is however, in the Nordic traditions and understandings of curriculum development and AR. In other words, we are partly “coming from the side” when exploring literature, not mainly in our first language (Swedish), but in English. In the first part, we start in the early 1970s to show how curriculum development is embedded within an action research tradition with a strong emphasis on change and teacher experiences and engagement. We shed light on how curriculum development is a collaborative practice (in AR traditions in, for example, the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries) as well as an exercise of authority (in AR used by educational policymakers in Sweden) and as part of a global “practice turn.” In part two, we turn to 50 articles from 2000–2020, found in one data base and one research journal, to scrutinize the explicit relation between “action research” AND “curriculum development.” The analysis revealed three descriptive themes, as well as three underlying questions in the AR community, of what contributes to curriculum development. The themes—and questions—are: (a) Transforming the content in programs and courses (the “What”), (b) Professional learning and development (the “Who”), and (c) AR as an approach for curriculum development (the “How”). Teachers are still, as in the 1970s, the key agents and owners of the process in many of these studies. However, there are examples of AR being used to govern teachers’ professional learning and change their teaching approaches, and to implement specific curriculum changes. Policies and discourses of sustainable development have a significant impact on the chosen topics of curriculum development all over the world. Is this a change in the professional or the political dimension of action research? Maybe both. One can ask, whether the professional autonomy is empowered or not, when the issues, underpinning the development work, have their origin in the society rather than in the actual classroom practice in the local site. Is there room for teachers’ critical voices and own queries? Education has, however, to respond to global and local questions and dominant challenges for all citizens. Researchers and teachers responding to this situation, by using action research for curriculum development, become an important and necessary part of the global strive to engage in social and environmental problems.

Article

In the digital era, written communication for children and youth is changing. As texts and media include complex intersections of print, image, sound, and other modalities, the ways in which writing is conceived is shifting. The evolution and impact of digital technologies follow a long history of invention, innovation, and change in written communication, with critiques of writing and communication technologies present in both historical and contemporary contexts. A new development in contemporary digital culture is the significant and widespread participation of children and youth in digital media and communication due to the ubiquity, affordances, and appeal of mobile digital devices. In the history of writing instruction, pedagogical approaches and perspectives have continued to evolve, with the teaching of writing at times positioned as subordinate to the teaching of reading, a pattern that has repeated into the digital era in which an emphasis on digital writing production and text creation has been similarly less of a focus than receptive consumption of media. Shifts in digital practice and the emergence of new devices for writing present both challenges and opportunities for the teaching of writing and the creation of texts in schools, with issues of digital resource provision and access to technology presenting hurdles for some teachers. Teacher awareness of the digital worlds, practices, and “funds of knowledge” that students are bringing to the writing classroom is vital to reimagining the writing classroom within contemporary digital culture. In the 21st century, writing instruction needs to be inclusive of the operational demands of writing as well as sociocultural and critical requirements, in addition to responding to fluid technoliteracy contexts and consideration of how “writing” itself is changing.

Article

Filiz Meşeci Giorgetti

In the 1930s, the primary schooling rate in Turkey was significantly low compared to the European states. Ninety percent of the population lived in villages without any schools and teachers. Therefore, promoting primary education was addressed as an issue concerning villages in Turkey. The seeds of the intellectual infrastructure in the emergence of institutes were sown at the beginning of the 20th century, during the Ottoman rule. To train teachers for villages, Village Teacher Training School [Köy Muallim Mektebi] was founded in 1927 and Village Instructor Training Course [Köy Eğitmen Kursu] in 1936. However, these initiatives were not sufficient in terms of quality and quantity. Village teacher training experiences, new education, and work school trends of Europe were analyzed by Turkish educators, opinions of foreign and Turkish experts were received, and the Village Institutes [Köy Enstitüleri] project was carried into effect based on the realities of Turkey. The first Village Institutes opened in 1937. They were established in a restricted area, with a limited budget, and a non-common curriculum until the Village Institute Law was promulgated in 1940. On April 17, 1940, the law prescribing their establishment was approved by the parliament. The number of the Village Institutes, which spread over the Turkish geography evenly, reached 21 by 1949. The period between 1940 and 1947 was when the Village Institutes were most productive. Learning by doing and principles of productive work were embraced at the Village Institutes. The curriculum consisted of three components: general culture, agriculture, and technical courses. In addition to their teaching duties, the primary school teachers that graduated from the Village Institutes undertook the mission of guiding villagers in agricultural and technical issues and having them adopt the nation-state ideology in villages. World balances changing after the Second World War also affected the Village Institutes. In 1946, the founding committee of the Village Institutes were accused of leftism and had to leave their offices for political reasons. After the founding committee stepped aside, the Village Institutes started to be criticized by being subjected to the conflict between left-wing and right-wing. Following the government changeover in 1950, radical changes regarding the curricula, students, and teachers of the institutes were made. Making the Village Institutes unique, the production- and work-oriented aspects were eliminated, and the institutes were closed down in 1954 and converted into Primary School Teacher Training Schools. Although the Village Institutes existed only between 1937 and 1954, their social, economic, and political effects were felt for a long time through the teachers, health officers, and inspectors they trained.

Article

Inclusive education is increasingly prioritized in legislation and policy across the globe. Historically, the concept of inclusion within educational contexts refers primarily to the placement of students with disabilities in general education classrooms. More recent descriptions of inclusive education focus on ensuring that all children can access and participate in physical, social, and academic aspects of the classroom. However, a growing body of research suggests that students continue to experience exclusion even within educational contexts that express a commitment to inclusion. In France, a growing number of private, independent schools seek to create the inclusive environments that, despite the ministry of education’s initiatives focused on inclusion, the public school system does not yet provide. One such school engaged in a participatory action research project to create an inclusive classroom that responded to the evolving needs and interests of the community, resulting in a sense of belonging for all members. As all classroom community members (students, families, and teachers) participated in the project of creating an inclusive classroom, the elements of participatory action research allowed inclusion to become a flexible, ongoing, and reflexive practice of identifying and responding to contextually specific needs of classroom members. Approaching inclusion as a participatory action research project in the classroom offers a promising approach to moving beyond interpretations of inclusion that fail to actively address pervasive inequalities and their impact on classroom experiences.

Article

The Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) have all based their school systems on a vision of inclusive and comprehensive schools with no streaming and easy transition between the levels. In Sweden, “A school for all” was the concept and vision for school reforms during the postwar period from the 1950s to the 1980s. This vision originated in egalitarian philosophy and the development of the welfare state. The implementation and reforms have gone through three phases: (a) implementing and supporting enactment of the comprehensive school reforms from 1950 to 1980 approximately; (b) decentralizing and implementing new public management and local accountability from 1980 to 2010 approximately; and (c) evaluating, correcting, and considering new measures from 2010 onward approximately. Political and economic premises have changed the prospects of implementing “school for all.” There are diverse developments in Nordic societies and schools, which, however, are not as dramatic as those in some other countries currently in 2021. Nevertheless, the question of equity in the school system and its importance for a democratic society needs to be raised.

Article

One of the most important problems in improving educational practice and outcomes is the very limited role that evidence plays in decisions about adopting books, software, professional development, and other materials and services. Instead, these are sold using relationship marketing in which sales reps work to build friendships with key decision makers. Word of mouth among educators with similar jobs also has a powerful influence. Why should evidence of effectiveness be a major criterion in the selection of educational products and services? The most important answer is that programs with a strong evidence base that are implemented as they were in the validating research are likely to produce better outcomes for children. Further, making evidence a basis for program adoption would put education into a virtuous cycle of innovation, evaluation, and progressive improvement like that which has transformed fields such as medicine, agriculture, and technology.

Article

Curriculum reform is at the heart of educational change and impacts pupils, teachers, other educational professionals, and society at large. Moreover, the way we go about developing our schools and designing curricula defines our future and reveals where we stand regarding the role of education in society. In order to research the desired aims of reforms, it is crucial to understand curriculum making: How does the school develop, and what regulates the development? Learning is at the core of school development. It can be considered as both the aim and the primary means of achieving and sustaining any change in schools. Accordingly, the impact of a school reform is highly dependent on the quality of learning enabled within the school communities. Particularly, the extent to which the reform engages teachers in active and skillful learning by promoting their professional agency is a central determinant of the reform’s outcomes. The core curriculum is the single most influential regulator of school development in Finland. It is renewed approximately every 10 years and provides a common direction and basis for renewing school education and instruction, and sets the framework and foundation for district- and school-level curriculum development work. Teachers in Finland are curriculum makers not only in the class and school, but also at the district and even national levels of the school system. In such a system, teacher autonomy and teacher agency are at the core of school development. Moreover, teachers’ ability to understand the aims of the reform and to integrate, modify, and adopt them as part of their pedagogical practices is essential. This requires making sense of their aims. In Finland, shared sense-making has been the main strategy in the latest participatory reforms, with the aim of promoting transformative learning in professional communities in order to reach reform goals.

Article

Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn, Melissa Silk, and Jane Martin

STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education has become a global agenda, with schooling systems around the world in developed and developing countries seeking to incorporate STEM programs into their in-school and out-of-school curricula. While disciplinary integration has been common practice in primary (elementary) schooling for many decades, in the early 21st century the STEM education movement has promoted an increased focus on project- and problem-based learning across disciplines in secondary schools as well. Research suggests, however, that STEM education programs can face barriers in their implementation, often depending on whether they are designed to align with existing curriculum outcomes or whether they are developed as cocurricular programs. Challenges are also presented by the need for professional learning to equip teachers with new skills and knowledge in designing and delivering STEM education. In addition, some researchers and educators have argued for STEAM—integration of the arts in STEM education. For those concerned with school reform, a great strength of STEM and STEAM education approaches lies in the potential for transdisciplinarity. As such, new opportunities and possibilities for framing driving questions and addressing contemporary societal challenges are created. Two particular issues identified as critical are (a) the potential contribution of STEM education to creating a sustainable future, and (b) the importance of STEM education for social justice, in ensuring all children and young people have equitable access to learning opportunities.

Article

Alex Kostogriz and Nikolay Veresov

The concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) emerged in the cultural-historical theory of Vygotsky as a result of the broader quest for a new psychology and forms of education in the post-revolutionary Soviet Union. The project of unprecedented socioeconomic transformations created a political demand for education that would build intellectual, physical, and moral capabilities of the new generation of young people. Cultural-historical psychology, at that point in time, emerged as a result of such a demand, investigating the development of psychological functions and the role of education and upbringing in mediating this process. This meant an advancement of the study of mental activity as embedded in social and cultural practices where any intellectual function appears, first, on the social plane and then on the psychological plane of the child. The concept of the ZPD was formed as a result of this genetic law of psychological development that laid a methodological foundation of the new psychology. In terms of developing this foundation, Vygotsky was among the first psychologists to apply the principles of dialectics, searching for a fundamentally new approach to the analysis and explanation of psychological phenomena, especially their causal-dynamic nature. The concept of the ZPD is illustrative of Vygotsky’s dialectical method insofar as it represents the development of the child as a unity of contradictory relations between her actual level of development and the potential level that the child can achieve in collaboration with others. Initially, Vygotsky introduced the ZPD as a diagnostic principle of defining the child’s abilities to collaborate with others in order to determine the area of evolving and future intellectual functions, rather than evaluating the outcomes of the child’s past development. By prioritizing the role of collaboration in the development of intellectual functions, Vygotsky’s ZPD bridged the world of psychological development and the world of education. The ZPD, from this perspective, opens up the internal relation between development and education, with the process of education leading the development of intellectual functions. Education creates opportunities for children to build their future capabilities, wakening up, as it were, those processes that could not be possible without their participation in intersubjective encounters or dialogical classroom events. The ZPD, in a pedagogical sense, is a social space of learning and communication in which children can build their consciousness, understandings, self-regulation, and agency. Yet, this is also a space where children’s differences and particularities are most visible. Depending on how diversity is recognized, the process of education can either stimulate or repress intellectual development.