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Anthony J. "Sonny" 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. In the realm of teaching and learning, the average impact of computer technology on student achievement has been both negligible and unchanged, despite astonishing technological developments since the 1960s.
However, there is cause for renewed optimism about technology use in education. Compounding evidence suggests that large gains in student achievement are possible when digital tools are leveraged to enhance highly reliable instructional and learning strategies. The objective of the author’s investigation efforts 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.
As ways of making meaning in drama strongly resemble the ways that meanings are made in everyday social life, forms of drama learn from everyday life and, at a societal level, people in everyday life learn from drama. Through history, from the emergence of drama in Western culture, the learning that results at a societal level from the interactions of everyday social life and drama have been noted by scholars. In contemporary culture, electronic and digitized forms of mediation and communication have diversified its content and massively expanded its audiences. Although there are reciprocal relations between everyday life and drama, aspects of everyday life are selected and shaped into the various cultural forms of drama. Processes of selection and shaping crystallize significant aspects of everyday social relations, allowing audiences of and participants in drama to learn and to reflect critically on particular facets of social life. In the 20th century, psychological theories of learning have been developed, taking note of the sociocultural relationships between drama, play, and learning. Learning in and through drama is seen as being socially organized, whole person learning that mobilizes and integrates the bodies and minds of learners. Making signs and meanings through various forms of drama, it is interactive, experiential learning that is semiotically mediated via physical activity. Alongside the various forms of drama that circulate in wider culture, sociocultural theories of learning have also influenced drama pedagogies in schools. In the later part of the 20th century and into the 21st century, drama practices have diversified and been applied as a means of learning in a range of community- and theater-based contexts outside of schooling. Practices in drama education and applied drama and theater, particularly since the late 20th century and into the early 21st century, have been increasingly supported by research employing a range of methods, qualitative, quantitative, and experimental.
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.
Olivia N. Saracho
Teacher educators assume that the teacher education programs in their own countries provide a comprehensive scope of possible selections. Nevertheless, how teacher education is planned and implemented differs in each country. They have different practices in both early childhood education and teacher preparation programs, even though American early childhood education theories and practices have guided them. In addition, countries differ in their early childhood education teacher qualifications. Teacher education programs have been attempting to prepare global-minded early childhood teachers who can function in other countries. Teachers who are prepared with global perspectives are able to help students succeed in the interconnected world where they encounter challenges throughout their lives.
The globalization of early childhood education and the preparation of teachers in the United States and other countries appear ultimately to be achieving importance, respectability, acknowledgment, and wisdom. Several countries have engaged in transforming early childhood teachers through educational reform, which calls upon countries to expand and improve early childhood care and education. Educational reform has intermittently been a main topic of discourse and seldom an emphasis of commitment in countries around the world. Frequently these reform attempts have emphasized the necessity to advance children’s knowledge, abilities, and views to help them become good citizens and productive adults. Whereas developments may not be equivalent from country to country, the movement is continuous. It is encouraging to see countries functioning to advance programs to prepare teachers of young children and to cope with the demanding difficulties and concerns of early childhood education and the preparation of early childhood teachers.
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.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
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.
Amrita Kaur and Mohammad Noman
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
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.
Paula Andrea Echeverri-Sucerquia and Carlos Tobon
The historic agreement signed between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government, as well as the peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), mark the beginning of an end to decades of raw violence in Colombia. Against all odds, Colombia has found ways to survive the pain, to heal, and to begin anew. The Colombian experience mirrors that of many other Latin American nations, as well as others around the world, where a history built in the midst of war, violence, and resilience has shaped people’s ways of interpreting the world and building knowledge. Evidence of this is the focus of conference papers, theses, and dissertations presented at international conferences by and about Latin Americans.
Undeniably, in spite of the particularities that describe the Latin American social experience, the hemispheric North has exerted a great epistemological influence in the South. However, Southerners have imprinted their idiosyncrasies, their own ways of understanding, creating, and transforming. A review of educational qualitative research in Colombia illustrates this tension: on the one hand is the focus on evidence-based research, highly influenced by academic work in the North, and, on the other hand, there is a struggle for research that strives for social justice. Such complex tension entails both challenges and opportunities for qualitative research in education.
Lorri Beckett and Amanda Nuttall
The case story of a local struggle in the north of England by research-active teachers to raise their collective voice and advocate for more realistic policies and practices in urban schools is one which premises teacher activism. A school–university partnership initiative exemplifies how teachers, school heads, school leaders, and academic partners can work together to address disadvantaged students’ lives, learning needs, and schooling experiences. The practitioners’ participation in an intensive, research-informed project to build teachers’ knowledge about poverty effects on teaching and learning was successful in the yield of teacher inquiry projects which were published. However, teachers’ efforts to combat student disaffection and under-achievement were deprecated with a lack of system support to the point where democratic impulse and social justice goals were weakened. It would be a misnomer to describe these teachers’ professional intellectual and inquiry work as activist, but they did engage in transformative practices. This led to the production of new knowledge and teachers working collectively toward school—and community—improvement, but it was not enough to effect policy advocacy. Professional knowledge building as a foundation of teacher activism is foregrounded in the matter of trust in teachers. To agitate for change and action in a vernacular neoliberal climate means to fight for teachers’ and academics’ voices to be heard.
Thanks to the concerted effort of the international community to promote basic education, driven by the Education for All (EFA) goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), indices of education in Africa have improved dramatically since the 1990s. Although the access to schooling has improved, there are still issues of quality related to teachers, facilities, teaching and learning materials, and relevance of educational contents. Recently, under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the focuses of educational policies of African countries have been diversified, to concentrate not only on quantitative and qualitative improvement of basic education, but also on secondary, tertiary, and technical and vocational education and training (TVET).
One of the problems which critics point out is that, regardless of the massive expansion of basic education, learning outcomes of school leavers in Africa have not improved. It has also been remarked that school enrolment has not directly led to poverty-reduction or decent employment. Another side-effect of the expansion of basic education has been an increased dependency on aid. So, although there is a constant demand for higher and more education among the general public, aid-dependent expansion of the system is unsustainable.
Before colonization by European powers, many groups in Africa had a tradition of oral transmission of knowledge, although there were some significant exceptions of societies which had formal educational institutions. With or without formal institutions, African traditional societies had their own mechanisms of transmitting knowledge across generations. However, Europeans overwrote such existing modes of education by introducing Western school systems. With the paternalistic conviction of their civilizing mission, they refined traditional cultures and practices which could be maintained and taught in school, while replacing other “barbarous superstitions” with teaching of European subjects. Resistance to such impositions of European education eventually led to nationalism, which accompanied the desire to find a uniquely African epistemology and teaching method. At the same time, the mechanism of recruiting African white-collar workers through schooling, which started during the colonial period, planted a strong hope for social advancement through gaining school certificates deeply in the mind of African people.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Over the past 30 years, a growing field of scholarship has explored the relationship between education and the media. Scholars within this field have explored representations of education, schooling, teachers’ work, and students in print and other news media, utilizing approaches that include critical discourse analysis, news framing analysis, and more recently, corpus-assisted discourse analysis. The relationship between these representations, public understandings of education, and education policy has also been explored in the research literature, with a focus on the complex interplay between media discourses and public policy around education. The emergence of social media and the engagement of both educators and members of the general public on social media around issues related to education have seen this relationship shift in recent years. This, along with the growth of computer-assisted research approaches (including corpus-assisted analysis and network analysis, for example), has brought new theoretical and methodological possibilities to bear on the field.
The relationship between education and peace is an area of educational research that merits sustained attention from scholars. A recent review of literature on this relationship pointed out the lack of rigorous research studies and robust evidence showing this link. This is surprising, given its significant implications for policy makers and practitioners who wish to educate youths to build and sustain a peaceful and just society. In fact, those who are engaged in education and peace research often grapple with the gap between their intuitive belief in the power of education to transform individuals and society on one hand, and the difficulty in establishing the causal relationship between the two concepts on the other. Still, today’s incessant tide of violence around the world has been propelling researchers to investigate the intersection of education and peace in order to better understand this connection.
The change in the nature of conflict has also given a new impetus to the research on education and peace. Today’s conflicts are generally fought between cultural groups within a nation, rather than between nation-states. Less developed nations, many of them being multicultural, are particularly prone to the risk of violent conflict. A study suggesting that the percentage of extreme poverty in fragile and conflict-affected societies will increase from the current 17% to 46% by 2030 confirms the close relationships between conflict, poverty and development. Because violence caused by internal conflict is a major obstacle to achieving universal access to education and other development goals, research on education and peace has become an important agenda item in the development aid community. This has added international aid organizations to the major players in education and peace research.
To date, most research studies have attempted to determine how education contributes to, or negatively affects, peace, rather than the other way around. The notion of peace, in the meantime, is no longer merely defined as the absence of war, but has been expanded to include the absence of structural violence, a form of violence that limits the rights of certain groups of citizens. This definition of peace has enlarged the analytical scope for social science researchers engaged in peace-related studies. The research field of education and peace has expanded beyond curriculum, textbooks, and pedagogy to also include education policy, governance, administration, and school management. Research may explore, for example, the impact of equitable and inclusive education policy and governance on the development of citizenship and social cohesion in the context of multicultural societies.
Importantly, scholars engaged in education and peace research need to consider how peace-building education policy and practices can actually be realized in societies where political leaders and education professionals are unwilling to implement reforms that challenge the existing power structure. Normative arguments around education for peace will be challenged in such a context. This means that education and peace research need to draw on multiple academic disciplines, including political science, sociology, and psychology, in order to not only answer the normative questions concerning peace-building policies and practices, but also address their feasibility.
Finally, the development of education and peace research can be enhanced by rigorously designed evaluation studies. How do we measure the outcomes of peace-building policies and practices? The choice of criteria for measurement may depend on the local context, but the discussion and establishment of fair and adaptable evaluation methodology can further enhance education policy and practices favoring peace and thus enrich the research in this field.
The Japanese education system was once recognized globally, at least until the end of the 1980s, as one that was both high in quality and highly egalitarian. This unique success was achieved in the process of Japan’s rapid modernization. How has this success achieved? How “unique” was the key issue of disparities? These are among the most crucial questions to comprehend regarding Japanese education. The double standard of equality emerging from Japan’s two stages (i.e., prewar and postwar) of modernization combined the postwar ideas of equality in education and the prewar legacy of school hierarchy, together producing an acute tension in education. This tension-laden equality succeeded to some extent in reducing and justifying disparities in education in Japan’s catch-up modernization process. Recent education reforms have purported to throw off the yoke of a system driven by a desire to catch up with advanced Western countries, which is hereafter called “the catch-up type of education.” However, these reforms have in fact only produced unintended results in terms of educational equality. Japanese experiences therefore show us both success and failure in education, but at the same time these experiences can also teach us the contradictory nature of the roles that education is expected to play.
Glenn M. Hudak
Martin Heidegger’s conceptualization of Gestell—the essence of technology—is a useful notion that can help educational researchers to “frame” and understand the role of digital technologies within the context of education and schooling. As C. A. Bowers argues in The Cultural Dimensions of Educational Computing (1988), “Heidegger’s thinking about technology, . . . his way of approaching the question of what constitutes the ‘essence of technology’ in relation to human existence was to be more useful [for researchers] in developing a vocabulary for revealing how our relationships are framed . . . by the essential nature of technology” (p. 31). Likewise, as Norm Friesen states in The Place of the Classroom and the Space of the Screen (2011), Heidegger “insisted that [the essence of] technology frames our experience and understanding in particular ways . . . [Heidegger names this] totality in which it is manifested by using the German word Gestell” (pp. 11–12).
As such, an understanding of Gestell—the essence of technology—is foundational, and is essential in unpacking the interface between education and technology. For what is at stake is not the use of technological equipment in classrooms per se, rather it is the very way in which Gestell “frames” the way in which we encounter educational situations by amplifying instrumental thinking at the expense of more relational forms of thinking. Here Heidegger calls for a new form of thinking: Gelassenheit, a way of thinking outside the domain of techno-discourse. Can one fully break free of Gestell? Can educators actually stand outside the dominant discourse of technology, especially as schools integrate curricula with digital technologies? An in-depth understanding of the dynamic power of the essence of technology is necessary in order to address these and other related concerns.
Ethnography and sensitive issues come together by way of the question, “What can someone know?,” which is a situational dilemma. An ethnography of sensitive issues creates a particular perspective of knowing. It distresses the overall social assumption that persons, practices, actions, structures, and institutions are based on their re-negotiation of stabilization and their safety of different forms of knowing. The ethnography of sensitive issues addresses the fluidity and fragility of the social and observes the vulnerability of persons, practices, fields, and settings. Sensitive issues of the social situate beyond the sociological and historical divide of (intimate) privacy and the public sphere. Sensitive issues touch on the violation of intimacy within public and private institutions by neglect, punishment, maltreatment, violence, bullying, and sexual violence. The problematizing perspectives on such disruptive social practices are particularly relevant for pedagogy and education. An education ethnography of sensitive issues thus asks for the risk of violation within pedagogical arrangements and describes the how and what of the vulnerability of the child and the indicated transgression of or within education practices. However, education settings—children engaging in institutions like the family, the school, and social care services—are constructed through the (unconscious) boundless aim of well-being, pedagogy for good, and positivity by education in its normativity. How do children learn to believe that what others say or do is for their good? How do educational arrangements cover vulnerable situations? Where are the borders or limitations within practices of education in pedagogical institutions? An education ethnography of sensitive issues problematizes the implicit, tacit, and practical knowledge of pedagogical arrangements and questions how those involved perform violence and, within the practices, at what stages of vulnerability.
Questioning violence and vulnerability points out that children sadly are not always recognized as equals and are equated by the other (child or adult). Sensitive issues in education and care situations define a greater net of responsibilities and its totality of practices of the powerful. Thus, it seems socially and educationally mandatory to gain descriptions and theories about the circumstances of sensitive issues in the examples of neglect of the individual in his or her rights and psychological and emotional situatedness, as well as physical punishment and sexual violence against children.
Focusing on violations and problematizing educational practices through research has ethical and moral restrictions that seem to contradict an ethnographic approach. It is (normatively) impossible for the ethnographer to participate in situ in situations of sensitive issues of violence and maltreatment against children. Additionally, seeing ethnography as a methodological and theoretical approach, an ethnography of sensitive issues could not be restricted to those who (autoethnographically) experience violations and maltreatment by themselves. Instead of arguing for a constrained ethnography of sensitive issues, the particular perspective on sensitive issues highlights the ethnographic approach. This goes along with understanding borders and transgressions as well as the taboos in the field and the challenging task of positioning oneself as an observer to be trusted in the uncertainty, unsafety, and instability of the nearest possible worlds. Hence, an education ethnography of sensitive issues considers researching intimacy at its boarders, limits, heterotopia, and transgressions of pedagogical practices within educational institutions and care situations.