Collectively, terms such as dialogic education and dialogic teaching are used both interchangeably and pervasively in education contexts. No single agreed-upon definition exists for dialogic or combinations of terms such as dialogic instruction and dialogic pedagogy. However, such terms are inclusive of a desire to promote meaningful classroom dialogue where students learn to reason, discuss, argue, and explain; to develop higher order thinking skills; and to transform the world around them. Importantly, dialogue as a type of exchange between individuals or groups draws upon and is expressed through the rich legacies of numerous cultures. For example, literature points to diverse texts and traditions in India and China, continuing cultural practices of “yarning” and “talking circles” in First Nations contexts, the dialogues of Plato and Socrates, as well as more contemporary models in the Western tradition. Unfortunately, Western models of dialogue enjoy a dominance that has marginalized and eroded the value of “other” cultural traditions as well as the diverse ontologies and epistemologies that give rise to them. Under this set of circumstances, Western models of dialogue have been complicit with Eurocentrism, which may also present itself in the form of paternalism within the context of teacher and student relationships. As a counterpoint, the work of the French philosopher Jacques Rancière has been drawn upon to disrupt the logic of Western models of education, including those that claim to be critical or “emancipatory.” Rancière’s approach represents a departure from normative conceptions of dialogue because it promotes the presupposition of equality between the student and teacher. In Rancière’s conception of education, the elevation of student to co-learner is reinforced by both the teacher’s and the student’s focus on an external artifact—a book or text, for example—which provides the intellectual stimulus for student investigation and dilutes the teacher’s traditional authority as the “master.” In this way, Rancière is able to complement the aims and features of dialogic education and extend it by casting the student as the intellectual equal of the teacher.
Don Carter and Gregory Martin
Phonics is a method of teaching people to read and spell (and therefore write) in an alphabetic writing system by associating symbols (letters/graphemes) with sounds (phonemes). The place of phonics in teaching children to read and spell is vigorously debated among researchers, often spilling over into the popular press. Advocates of principally comprehension-based (e.g., whole language) teaching have maintained that little or no phonics instruction is needed; others are of the view that it is essential and must be systematic. Analysis of the most rigorous evidence from research reviews and meta-analyses suggests that systematic phonics teaching is effective for teaching children to read and spell in English, and that the combination of systematic phonics teaching and comprehension-based approaches is probably more effective than either alone. Research has therefore begun on integrated teaching of literacy that incorporates both code and meaning emphases, but currently the requisite professional knowledge and teacher capacity are challenges for many school systems. The principal forms of phonics teaching are synthetic, where children are taught to sound out the letters of a word and to blend (synthesize) the sounds together to form a word; and analytic, in which sounding-out is not taught to start with, but children identify the phonic element from a set of words in which each word contains the element under study, for example, pat, park, push, and pen. There is not yet sufficient convincing research evidence to decide which of these is more effective. Systematic phonics teaching in general is effective across the primary age range, for normally developing and most at-risk children, and probably for children whose first language is not English; and its effects last, at least in the crucial early years. Nonetheless, government policy and reform interventions in this area are sometimes heavy-handed, frequently influenced by political and community pressure, and may face difficulties of scale, resources, and implementation that hamper their effectiveness and generalizability across school systems. A new, large systematic review may be needed to clarify various outstanding issues.
Charlene Tan and Connie S.L. Ng
In light of the broad, multidimensional, and contestable nature of constructivism, a central debate concerns the object of construction. What do we mean when we say that a learner is constructing something? Three general categories, with overlaps in between, are: the construction of meaning, the construction of knowledge, and the construction of knowledge claims. To construct meaning is to make sense of something by understanding both its parts and overall message. To construct knowledge is to obtain what philosophers traditionally call “justified true belief.” There are three conditions in this formulation of knowledge: belief, truth, and justification. Beliefs are intentional, meaningful, and representational, directing a person to attain truth and avoid error with respect to the very thing that person accepts. As for the notions of truth and justification, there are three major theories of truth, namely the correspondence theory, coherence theory, and pragmatic theory; and seven main types of justification, namely perception, reason, memory, testimony, faith, introspection, and intuition. Finally, to construct a knowledge claim is to indicate that one thinks that one knows something. The crucial difference between knowledge and a knowledge claim is that the latter has not acquired the status of knowledge. There are two main implications for teaching and learning that arise from an epistemological exploration of the concept of constructivism: First, educators need to be clear about what they want their students to construct, and how the latter should go about doing it. Informed by learner profiles and other contingent factors, educators should encourage their students to construct meanings, knowledge, and knowledge claims, individually and collaboratively, throughout their schooling years. Second, educators need to guard against some common misconceptions on constructivism in the schooling context. Constructivism, contrary to popular belief, is compatible with direct instruction, teacher guidance, structured learning, content learning, traditional assessment, and standardized testing. In sum, there are no pedagogical approaches and assessment modes that are necessarily constructivist or anticonstructivist. A variety of teaching methods, resources, and learning environments should therefore be employed to support students in their constructing process.
Helen Cahill, Babak Dadvand, and Annie Gowing
The well-being challenges of the 21st century are deeply ethical in nature and require activation of collective as well as individual responsibility for the ways in which others are treated. For this reason, school reform initiatives need to equip young people with a wide range of capacities to engage with the challenges of advancing both the wellness of humanity and that of the planet. There is a robust body of theory and research available to inform school reform efforts that aim to accomplish improved individual and collective well-being. This knowledge base emanates from different paradigms and disciplinary traditions. Brought together, these knowledge sources highlight the importance of ensuring that schools invest efforts toward developing ethical, critical, personal, social, and creative capabilities that enable young people to enact care for self, others, society, and the planet. A transdisciplinary approach that expounds on research and theory from diverse disciplines, including well-being education, critical, feminist, and postmodern traditions, and scholarship on youth voice and participation can help efforts toward well-being-centric school reform. Evidence suggests that research-informed well-being education programs can have positive impacts in terms of improved mental, social, and relational health, contributions to learning, and fostering critical thinking skills. These are the skills that are needed by young people to navigate and respond to ethnical challenges with care, compassion, and a sense of responsibility as a relational ethos. Taken together, these advances in thinking and knowledge, derived from different traditions of scholarship, can be harnessed to inform a “well-being-centric” approach to schooling reform that is responsive to the past, present, and future lives of persons, peoples, and the planet. A well-being-centric approach to school reform should harness developments in education knowledge and thinking generated across diverse disciplines within the past 50 years, since the 1970s. This, in turn, requires disrupting the ways in which the disciplinary structures and assessment regimes of secondary schools work as impediments to the transformative change needed to advance student well-being and learning in these changed and challenging times.
Cheryl E. Matias and Shoshanna Bitz
Conceptualized as early as 2006 via ideas of the motherscholar, the concept of Critical Race Parenting (otherwise ParentCrit) was first identified in 2016 in an open access online journal to discuss pedagogical ways parents and children can coconstruct understanding about race, racism, whiteness, and white supremacy. Since then Critical Race Parenting/ParentCrit has become more popularized in academic circles, from peer-reviewed conference presentations to special issues by journals. The rationale behind ParentCrit definitions, theoretical roots, parallels to education, implications to education, scholarship and literature, and controversies are explicated to describe what ParentCrit is and where it came from. To effectively articulate its epistemological roots in the idea of the motherscholar to its relation to Critical Race Theory, one must delve into the purposes, evolution, and implications of ParentCrit in education.
The increase of transgender visibility and politics correlates with a renowned interest in gender equity in schools. The diversity of trans* and gender-expansive social identities, along with divergent conceptualizations of the meaning transing/trans*ing, ontology, identity, and embodiment, produces a wide range of ideal and pragmatic approaches to gender equity and justice in education. Fields and analytical frameworks that emerge from Decolonial Feminism, Queer Indigenous Studies, Queer of Color Critique in education, Jotería studies, and transgender studies in the United States have unique definitions, political commitments, and epistemological articulations to the meaning and purpose of transing/trans*ing. These divergent articulations of trans*ing often make projects of transgender equity and justice incommensurable to each other, or they converge at the various scalar aspects of equity design and implementation. By historicizing, or re-membering the rich body of decolonial modes of trans*ing bodies, knowledge, and selves, trans* of color critique in education research makes trans* justice possible by disrupting white-centric approaches to transgender inclusion that may fall short in the conceptualization of trans* justice and what makes a trans* livable life for queer and trans people of color.
Walter S. Gershon
Education is a sensory experience. This is the case regardless how a sensorium is constructed. A sensorium is how a group defines, categorizes, and conceptualizes the senses, a Western five-senses model for example. Regardless of the sociocultural norms and values a sensorium engenders, animals, human and nonhuman alike, experience their lives through the senses. From this perspective, anything that might be considered educational, regardless of context and irrespective of questions of what might “count” as schooling, is a sensory experience. Sensuous curriculum sits at the intersection of two transdisciplinary fields, curriculum and sensory studies. As its name suggests, sensuous curriculum is an expression of ongoing critical educational studies of, with, and through the senses. In so doing, sensuous curriculum brings to the fore the extraordinary nature of everyday experiences in educational ecologies, from entangled sociocultural norms and values to the ways that sensory input and interpretation inform every aspect of educational ways of being, knowing, and doing. Sensoria have always been tools for understandings, particularly for continually marginalized groups whose claims are often dismissed through Western, Eurocentric framings. For the notion and instantiation of framings require both a set of universally understood constructs and their applications as well as the necessity of the act: when framing, someone or something is always framed. Providing critical tools for the interruption of such constructs and their use, sensuous curriculum is a rich site of study in ways that are theoretically and materially significant, while offering often underutilized trajectories for the exploration of educational understandings.
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.
Conversation is a topic of burgeoning interest in the context of educational theory and as a prospective means for conducting empirical research. As a nonformal educational experience, as well as within the classroom, or as a means to researching various aspects of educational practice and institutions, research on or through conversation in education draws on a range of theoretical resources, often understanding conversation as analogous to dialogue or dialectic. Although only brought into this research context in the early 21st century, the philosopher who has engaged most extensively with conversation is Maurice Blanchot (1907–2003). His text, The Infinite Conversation, originally published in French as L’Entretien infini in 1969, responded to and took forward many elements of what would go on to be described as poststructuralist or deconstructive thought. Blanchot’s notion of conversation (in French, “entretien”) is distinct from those reliant upon philosophical conceptions of dialogue or dialectic. Itself the subject of philosophical research, Blanchotian conversation has been interpreted variously as either not sufficiently taking into account the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas, or else expanding beyond its more limited scope. Some of these interpretations stress the ethical and political implications of conversation; however, none engage specifically with its educational implications. Blanchotian conversation allows for contradicting and contrasting thoughts to be voiced without being brought to shared consensus or internal resolution. Its “lesson” is not only in the thought that it produces but also in the ethical relation of sincerity, openness, and non-imposition that it develops. Unlike some recent applications of conversation to educational context, Blanchotian conversation does not re-entrench the subject to be educated but rather deprioritizes the subject in favor of the movement of thought and the ethical “between” of conversation itself. This notion of conversation has corollaries in political thought, notably with Jacques Rancière’s understanding of “dissensus” and Karl Hess’s thought of an “anarchism without hyphens,” as well as the politically informed educational ideas of Elizabeth Ellsworth and the educational practice and research of Camilla Stanger.
Modesta Di Paola
Cosmopolitanism is an ancient idea with a wide theoretical and critical history. Scholars across the humanities and social sciences have been examining the meaning and trajectories of this concept, showing how it spotlights ways in which people can move beyond mutual understanding and cooperation. However, cosmopolitanism does not have to refer to a transcendental ideal but rather to the material and real condition of global interdependencies. Cosmopolitanism has been connected to the philosophical concept of “becoming-world,” which develops this idea in the context of plural and ecological societies. Under this approach, cosmopolitanism turns into cosmo-politics, which fuses notions of educational and cultural creativity. From the philosophy of education and artistic education in particular, cosmopolitics seeks to outline the advances of new creative educational theories, which center on globalization, hospitality ethics, politics of inclusion, and the ecological connection between human beings and ecosystems; overall, this concept reveals the possibilities for moral, political, and social growth in the encounter with the other (human and natural). Cosmopolitics is, therefore, associated with the idea of educating with creativity, even proposing the elaboration of new pedagogical methods. Here, cosmopolitics has arisen as a crucial artistic educational orientation toward reimagining, appreciating, and learning from our common world.