Martinette V. Horner, Derrick D. Jordan, and Kathleen M. Brown
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.
Esther Dominique Klein
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Accountability has become one of the major keywords in education during the last two or three decades, and it is not being discussed without controversy. Accountability has always been deemed a necessity for schools to fulfill their purpose in society; however, different views on whether and to what extent schools can be regulated from the outside have led to dissimilar assumptions about who should be accountable to whom and by what means. In a globalized world and with the influence of powerful transnational actors, accountability systems have been converging in the past decades. At the same time, new accountability instruments have been woven into existing structures and processes that have been culturally, historically, and socio-politically preshaped. Accordingly, approaches towards educational accountability worldwide today seem to be similar and diverse at the same time. In this context, the question is how these accountability systems relate to the institutional conditions they are situated in, and how different actors coordinate the order in education within different types of accountability and governance systems. Finally, one can also discuss to what extent accountability policies affect power relations and normalize inequalities within society.
Laura Colucci-Gray, Pamela Burnard, Donald Gray, and Carolyn Cooke
“STEAM education,” with its addition of “arts” to STEM subjects, is a complex and contested concept. On the one hand, STEAM builds upon the economic drivers that characterize STEM: an alignment of disciplinary areas that allegedly have the greatest impact on a developed country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). On the other hand, the addition of the arts may point to the recovery of educational aims and purposes that exceed economic growth: for example, by embracing social inclusion, community participation, or sustainability agendas. Central to understanding the different educational opportunities offered by STEAM is the interrogation of the role—and status—of the arts in relation to STEM subjects. The term “art” or “arts” may refer, for example, to the arts as realms/domains of knowledge, such as the humanities and social science disciplines, or to different ways of knowing and experiencing the world enabled by specific art forms, practices, or even pedagogies. In the face of such variety and possibilities, STEAM is a portmanteau term, hosting approaches that originate from different reconfigurations or iterative reconfiguring of disciplinary relationships. A critical discussion of the term “STEAM” will thus require an analysis of published literature alongside a review and discussion of ongoing practices in multiple field(s), which are shaped by and respond to a variety of policy directions and cultural traditions. The outcome is a multilayered and textured account of the limitations and possibilities for and relational understandings of STEAM education.
Sarimah binti Shaik-Abdullah, S. Kanageswari Suppiah Shanmugam, and Mohan Chinappan
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 quality of education in any country rests on school communities as a whole. However, the real implementers of innovations and changes in curriculum are teachers. Teachers, as practitioners, are the ones most often held accountable for successes and failures in educating schoolchildren. The way to facilitate teachers in handling challenges and keeping up with curriculum renewals is through constant support in the form of continuous professional development (CPD) by means of action research. Action research as CPD has been viewed as a critical platform for advocating change, which is the outcome of teachers’ ability and autonomy to lead in making informed decisions about their own practices. Given its usefulness, action research is found well established, vastly practiced, and widely published in the Western countries. This has raised the question of the spread of action research as CPD in the Southeast Asian region. Preliminary analysis reveals that in some Southeast Asian countries, such as Timor Leste, there is limited literature on action research, while in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, action research has been well documented. At the same time, there’s an emerging trend in Southeast Asian countries to adopt different models of action research. In Malaysia, for instance, action research has been primarily classroom based, whereas in Indonesia, a critical and community-based approach to action research seems to be prevalent. This suggests that the kinds of action research conducted in the different Southeast Asian countries may reflect variations in cultural, economic, and geographic landscapes. Given the importance of action research to teacher practitioners and school leaders, and in providing an identity to the action research approaches conducted in Southeast Asia, the historical trail of action research presents a window to the nature of CPD concerns of each country, as well as the successes and challenges of conducting action research as CPD for sustained impact.
A common definition of listening distinguishes between hearing and listening. The basic distinction describes hearing as a passive action of perceiving sounds, whereas listening involves paying active attention to various layers and elements of what one is hearing. Active listening to music, featuring the discerning of sounds, musical structures, harmonies, and the interrelations between the sounds, is akin to contemplating complex ideas. Providing meaning for this nexus of relationships requires listeners to grapple with these complex musical nuances, listening to different layers of the melody and harmony and connecting them to cultural and historical aspects. Challenging students to grapple with the complex nuances of musical pieces, to listen to different layers of the melody and harmony, and to connect those elements to cultural and historical aspects will provide them the opportunity to reflect upon the social and cultural contexts in which they live. The concept of what it means to be active (or mindful) has been examined from various perspectives and theories and holds great potential in advancing individual growth and social sensitivity.
Brahm Norwich and George Koutsouris
Inclusive education has become a prominent international ideal and value in educational policies and practices. It is a seemingly simple concept about opportunities, equality, and solidarity that has wide global appeal. However, inclusion as applied to education connects with various social and political values that have been contested over many decades. One issue that underlies inclusion as a value is whether it represents a single coherent value or multiple values that can come into tension leading to dilemmas that need to be resolved. This issue is often overlooked in considerations about inclusive education but does affect various key issues about differentiation in the design of curricula and assessment, the location of provision, and how difference is identified and labeled and about participation in the social interaction between students who are different. This is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Mary Ann Hunter and Cynthia E. Cohen
The arts have long been associated with social transformation and peacebuilding. In conflict-affected settings, the arts can serve to raise awareness of the impacts of violence, enable distinctive expressions of culture, offer opportunities for intercultural collaboration, and embody affective and aesthetic means of engaging with trauma and healing. Conversely, the arts also have the potential to harm, when they are used in the name of propaganda, for example, or result in re-traumatizing victims of conflict in an aestheticization of experience. An emerging interdisciplinary field of arts and peacebuilding is researching the arts’ potential to restore capacities that might have been eclipsed by violence and long-standing oppression—that is, arts practice at the nexus of reconciliation, community development, and social justice. As the field grows, scholarship in peace studies, applied arts, conflict resolution, and peace education is contributing to a productive troubling of definitions of peace and is drawing attention to the role of affect, cultural diversity, and coloniality in such work. Future scholarship in which the arts are conceptualized beyond the instrumental benefits to their multiple legitimate purposes as a “way of knowing” will more appropriately capture the complexities, uncertainties, and paradoxes of imagining and building peace through the arts in diverse contexts. Key international projects continue to decolonize universalizing definitions and practices of the arts by documenting and investigating a range of aesthetic practices in peacebuilding. This work is being generated and disseminated broadly across disciplinary scholarly communities, government and nongovernment agencies, and professional networks of educators and artists. The nexus of arts and peacebuilding theory has much to offer the mobilization of new directions in peacebuilding practice and an integration of arts-based peace education.
Belmira Oliveira Bueno
Since the 1980s, in different countries, researchers and educators have put into action a number of studies of teachers’ biographies, teachers’ narratives and stories, as well as other ways of employing life history methods, in order to renew the field of education. A vast literature has been produced in the last decades on this perspective, giving testimony to a surprising growth of the educational area under the impulse of such approaches. There was a clear need for a methodological renewal of this field but also a need of a revision of the functions of school and to the way of conceiving education. The idea of lifelong learning frames this scenario and the expectations outlined in the turn of this century, altering profoundly the functions of school and the ends of education. The biographical approaches are taken as an attempt of meeting such demands. However, the work with life histories and biographies has shown different directions, following from a conjugation of factors and from more specific demands for education present in the respective contexts where such experiences have taken place. Such approaches are part of a broader movement of individualization and subjectivism that characterizes contemporary society. The two perspectives focused on in this article—that of English-speaking countries, with a predominant focus on the life and career of teachers; and those developed in Francophone environments, with the focus on the continued education of adults—have shown great growth particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, giving testimony to the appeal that biographical approaches exerted upon researchers and educators. It presents the features of these two trends preceded by an incursion into the field of sociology aiming at highlighting some relevant methodological and epistemological issues. By this way we intend to emphasize the potentiality of biographical approaches to the knowledge of education, drawing attention to the challenges for individuals’ lives in the contemporary society and for the emergence of new ways of conceiving the subjectivities by the new human and social theories.
Community participation in school management has great potentials for removing mistrust and distance between people and schools by nurturing transparency of information and a culture of mutual respect and by jointly pursuing improvement of school by sharing vision, process, and results. Individual and organizational behavioral changes are critical to increase the level of participation. In countries where the administrative structures are weak, the bottom-up approach to expanding educational opportunity and quality learning may be the only option.
Nevertheless, when community participation is implemented with a top-down manner without wider consultation on its aims, processes, and expected results, the consequences are likely to be conflicts between actors, a strong sense of overwhelming obligation, fatigue, inertia, and disparity in the degree and results of community participation between communities. Political aspects of school management and socio-cultural difference among the population require caution, as they are likely to induce partial participation or nonparticipation of the community at large. Community participation in school management will result in a long-term impact only if it involves a wide range of actors who can discuss and practice the possibilities of revisiting the definition of community and the way it should be.
Fred A.J. Korthagen and Ellen E. Nuijten
The core reflection approach aims to deepen teacher reflection and development. The approach takes teachers’ core qualities and ideals as the starting point for reflection, and links the professional and the personal in teacher development. Core reflection can also be applied to other professional groups, and to students in primary and secondary education. It is based on a model of levels of reflection, briefly named the onion model, which includes the following levels: environment, behavior, competencies, beliefs, identity, mission, and “the core,” which refers to personal strengths. The onion model helps to differentiate between behavior-oriented reflection and a deeper kind of reflection, in which attention is given to three goals: (1) building on strengths and ideals (called “the inner potential”) of the person, (2) helping the person deal with inner obstacles limiting the actualization of the inner potential, and (3) preparing the person for using their potential and dealing with obstacles autonomously. In order to reach these goals, people can be coached using specific principles, which are partly based on positive psychology:
1. Focusing on personal strengths;
2. Giving balanced attention to cognition, emotion, and motivation (thinking, feeling, and wanting); and
3. Giving attention to inner obstacles.
These principles are brought together in a phase model for core reflection, with five phases: (1) describing a concrete situation; (2) reflection on the ideal, and on a core quality or qualities; (3) reflection on an obstacle; (4) using the inner potential; and (5) trying a new approach.
Core reflection is being used around the world, both in teacher education programs and in schools. Several research studies into the processes and outcomes of core reflection have shown that it leads to in-depth professional development and improved behavior, in both the short and the long term. However, more research is needed, for example research in which long-term outcomes of the core reflection approach are compared to those of other approaches.
In South Africa, new legislation and policies on inclusive education in the post-apartheid era since 1994 have placed a strong emphasis on equity, equality, and human rights, as defined in the South African Constitution. As a result, a White Paper on building an inclusive education and training system was published in 2001. It acknowledges the failure of the education system to respond to the barriers to learning and development experienced by a substantial number of learners, including diverse learning needs caused by, for example, language, socioeconomic, or gender issues as well as disabilities. This policy document describes inclusive education as being based on the ideals of equity and equality and as a result recognizing and respecting learner and learning diversity within mainstream schools. As stated in the policy, in practice this means identifying and removing barriers in the education system to ensure that the full range of diverse learning needs are met in mainstream classrooms as well as providing support to learners and teachers in addressing barriers to learning and development.
Research studies on the implementation of inclusive education in South Africa, however, are finding that despite the development of a wide range of implementation guidelines since 2007, complex interrelated issues continue to complicate the development of successful inclusive schools. These issues include a continued divergence of views of inclusive education with a continuing strong belief in special education and separate educational settings by most teachers, therefore leading to a resultant lack of clarity regarding the implementation of inclusive education at the level of local practice in schools and classrooms. These differences in the understanding of inclusive education and its enactment in diverse school contexts also bring the question of power and agency into South African debates about inclusive education: who should decide which version of inclusive education should be the goal of the development of inclusive education in a specific school district or a specific school. Furthermore, contextual issues including the lack of financial and human resources, for example effectively trained teachers, effectively functioning district educational support teams for schools in specific school districts, lack of textbooks, and overcrowded classrooms, play a dominant role in the development of effective inclusive schools.
I-Hsuan Cheng and Sheng-Ju Chan
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Several Asian countries work in partnership with international development agencies to develop human capital for their national development. Human capital theory emphasizes the importance of education and training to improve the workforce skills and productivity of workers participating in the changing global knowledge economy and 21st-century capitalism. Accordingly, a relevant place to start is with an analysis of relevant human capital theories, followed by a presentation of the different aid modalities and projects of education and training (from higher education projects to other human capital development projects) practiced by the Asian national governments in cooperation with their international development counterparts. Finally, key are the implications of future formulations and implementation of development assistance projects for developing human capital in the developing world.
David Middlewood and Ian Abbott
Schools where staff members are heavily committed to their own learning as much as the students’ are seen as professional learning communities. The development of staff learning occurs through continuous examination of and reflection on practice and sharing the outcomes with colleagues. This examination often takes the form of structured in-house professional learning inquiry, leading to the growth of a research-based culture, enabling professional insights and leading to school improvement. School leaders are important in facilitating and developing such cultures.
Collaboration between schools, including those in quite different contexts, is growing rapidly this century, and where the collaborating schools are learning communities, the potential enrichment for all involved, within a federation or academy chain for example, is considerable. Such communities and the collaboration between them take time to develop, and barriers to progress exist, including a tension between collaboration and competition in some systems. The answer lies in a commitment to mutual learning, to the benefit of all those concerned, including the students themselves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A new approach to education has been proposed, called Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), with the goal of developing education in order to foster individuals who will contribute to the realization of a socially, economically, and environmentally more sustainable society. From the beginning of the 21st century, this has given rise to discussions and practices on related themes all over the world, including in Asia. While the environment surrounding education is markedly changing in Asian societies, with educational reforms actively pursued in many Asian countries and regions, their situations greatly differ depending on the context in which they find themselves.
Today, departing from the conventional modes of teaching and learning that focus on the acquisition of an already systematized body of knowledge and skills, the field of education the world over is now shifting its focus to what is called key competencies, adopting and experimenting with new teaching and learning styles to develop abilities referred to as 21st-century skills. Based on these theoretical and conceptual discussions, a number of initiatives have been adopted as policies, school curricula, and educational practices in order to promote ESD in Asian countries.
It is possible to divide Asian countries into three groups based on the place of ESD in their countries, as well as their degree of socioeconomic development and the popularization of school education: (a) countries that have accumulated experience in the practice of environmental education or development education; (b) countries that have been witnessing growing environmental consciousness and its rapid institutionalization in recent years, with varying degrees of implementation of environmental education; and (c) countries in which the elimination of poverty and inequality remains the most pressing issue and ESD is promoted in connection with development issues.
Although the introduction of ESD is greatly affected by each country’s socioeconomic situation, it is important for all countries in Asia to promote equitable and sustainable education in order to realize a sustainable society. Thus, Asian countries need to form a social consensus to promote ESD, which requires the participation and responsibility of the whole of society.
For teachers to effectively engage in given pedagogical practices, they need to have beliefs that support these approaches to teaching. These are not philosophical beliefs per se; rather, they are the individual understandings that teachers hold about the nature of knowledge and knowing, which underpin and guide their actions and which are referred to as personal epistemologies. A wide range of paradigms for understanding and studying personal epistemologies is evident in the research literature in this field, but these different perspective and approaches—while varied in outlook and conclusion—point to how important it is that initial teacher education courses allow for the development of sophisticated personal epistemologies through explicit teaching that enables students to think ontologically and epistemologically, and that teacher educators initiate and sustain reflective and discursive practices throughout their courses to promote the best possible outcomes for the children that student teachers will go on to teach in their subsequent careers.
Maropeng Modiba and Sandra Stewart
Postcolonial ethnographic studies in Africa and, specifically, in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region tend to demonstrate varying sensitivity to local knowledge systems and culture. Ethnographers, both local and international, differ in the ways in which they engage with these aspects. Studies expose shifts, or lack thereof, in the mindsets of researchers. In general, researchers take for granted their cultural ideals and how to embrace broader responsibilities beyond the education or development initiatives they are studying. Although rhetorically supportive of the education/development of the subaltern, some studies selected and reviewed in this article indicate the researchers’ missionary dispositions and reliance on preconceived notions in making sense of the behavior and environments studied. To varying degrees fragmentations in perceptions, anthropological empathy, reluctance to acknowledge African contexts and ways of living as adequate in themselves stand out rather than deliberate efforts to preserve the internal cultures and knowledge systems of the communities and expand their knowledge and skills in sustainable ways.