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Jan Amos Comenius (b. 1592) is widely recognized as a pivotal figure in the history of educational thought. Living during a period of great turmoil he promoted universal schooling as the means to engineer a perfectly harmonious world. His argument turned upon claims to scientific knowledge and a didactic method that could instill truth in all minds. As the ever expanding scholarship on Comenius demonstrates, many still find inspiration in this visionary project. But Comenius’ work must be read in the context of Early Modern thought. Convinced that life was situated in the divinely crafted cosmos pictured in the Book of Genesis, his overarching goal was to restore “the image of God in man” and realize the Golden Age depicted in prophecy. The school was to be a workshop for the reformation of mankind, a place to manufacture of right thinking and right acting individuals. I explore these epistemological and pedagogic arguments and demonstrate their role in his hugely successful Latin primer, Orbis pictus (1658). Comenius, I conclude, was a revolutionary thinker who married subtle observations about the process of learning with sophisticated instructional practices. However, given current views about human nature and the social good, these principles cannot be applied uncritically to contemporary educational problems.
Margaret Schmidt and Randall Everett Allsup
John Dewey’s writings on schooling are extensive, and characteristically wide-ranging: teachers are expected to think deeply about knowledge construction, how we think and learn, the purpose of curriculum in the life of the child, and the role of school and societal reform. He worked throughout his life to develop and refine his philosophy of experience, describing all learning as defined by the quality of interactions between the learner and the social and physical environment. According to Dewey, teachers have a responsibility to structure educational environments in ways that promote educative learning experiences, those that change the learner in such a way as to promote continued learning and growth. The capacity to reflect on and make meaning from one’s experiences facilitates this growth, particularly in increasing one’s problem-solving abilities.
While Dewey wrote little that specifically addressed the preparation of teachers, his 1904 essay, “The Relation of Theory to Practice in Education,” makes clear that he grounds his beliefs about teachers’ learning in this same philosophy of experiential learning. Dewey argued that thoughtful reflection on previous and current educational experiences is especially important in teacher preparation; teacher educators could then guide beginners to examine and test the usefulness of the beliefs formed from those experiences. Teacher educators, therefore, have a responsibility to arrange learning environments for beginning teachers to promote sequential experiences leading to increased understanding of how children learn, “how mind answers to mind.” These experiences can then help beginning teachers grow, not as classroom technicians, but as true “students of teaching.”
Dewey’s ideas remain relevant, but must also be viewed in historical context, in light of his unfailing belief in education and the scientific method as ways to promote individual responsibility and eliminate social problems. His vision of a democratic society remains a fearless amalgam of human adaptation, continuity, change, and diversity: public schools are privileged locations in a democracy for the interplay and interrogation of old and new ideas. Teacher preparation and teacher wellbeing are crucial elements; they can provide experiences to educate all children for participation in their present lives in ways that facilitate their growth as citizens able to fully participate in a democracy. Despite criticism about limitations of his work, Dewey’s ideas continue to offer much food for thought, for both research and practice in teacher education.
John P. Miller
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Holistic education as a field of inquiry began in the 1980s. Prior to this time, this field was referred to as humanistic education, confluent education, affective education, or transpersonal education. The work of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow inspired many educators working in these areas. In 1988 The Holistic Education Review under the editorship of Ron Miller was first published along with The Holistic Curriculum by John Miller. However, as a field of practice, holistic education can first be found in indigenous education. Historically, Socrates, Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Bronson Alcott, and Tolstoy can be viewed as working within a holistic frame.
What is that frame? It is educating the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. Today, at every level, education focuses on skills and a narrow view of the intellect. The body receives little attention while the spiritual life of the student is ignored. This approach views the student as a brain on a stick. In contrast, the holistic curriculum attempts to reach the head, hands, and heart of the student.
The other main principle of holistic education is connectedness. Connectedness is one of the fundamental realities of nature. In contrast, the curriculum at every level, except perhaps for kindergarten, is fragmented as knowledge is broken down into courses, units, lessons, and bits of information. Rarely are there attempts to show how knowledge is interconnected. Holistic education seeks to be in harmony with how things actually are by focusing on connections. Six connections are at the core of the holistic curriculum: connections to the earth, community, subject integration, intuition/logic, body/mind, and soul. There are many models of holistic education in practice. They range from more structured approaches such as Waldorf education to schools such as Summerhill and Sudbury Valley that give students a great deal of choice. Despite these differences, each of these schools views the child as a whole human being.
Danilo Romeu Streck and Telmo Adams
Since the second half of the 20th century, research practices in social science and the humanities in Latin America and the Caribbean have been developed alongside criticisms of positivist methodologies. Some of the main interventions are reviewed by scholars such as Orlando Fals Borda, João Bosco Guedes Pinto, Michel Thiollent, Paulo Freire, Carlos Rodrigues Brandão, and Oscar Jara. Participation is central to all of these, but each contain nuances that must be identified, explained, and analyzed. Furthermore, these interventions relate to the field of popular education or, more broadly, to practices associated with critical educational proposals.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Coaching for school leaders is becoming commonplace in the United States. The responsibilities of school leaders have changed dramatically since the early 21st century, and coaching is often seen as a viable and necessary support for those leaders. The advent of legislation, including the No Child Left Behind act in 2001 and more recently the introduction of the Common Core standards, has been instrumental in shifting school leadership from a primarily managerial perspective to that of instructional and transformational leadership. In such a rapidly changing environment, leadership coaching holds promise for school leaders faced with not only operational and personnel management but also leading dynamic change processes in the arenas of curriculum and instruction. Leadership coaching usually involves coaching from a superior within the school district or from an external public or private organization. Successful leadership coaching takes into account the characteristics of the leader and also the context in which the coaching takes place.
Kay K. Seo and Scott Gibbons
In teacher education, learner engagement is an important instructional consideration. When students are physically, cognitively, and socially involved in the learning process, they can achieve high levels of productivity and develop a meaningful learning experience. In addition, learner engagement is closely associated with student retention and degree completion. To engage education students more meaningfully in the learning process, it is important to teach them in student-centered, technology-enriched environments. Education students should also become more engaged with the community and with other educators in order to build upon their pedagogy. Furthermore, it is important to offer them professional experiences, including student teaching practicum and teacher preparation programs, so that they can transform those experiences into their own teaching practices.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
As postulated by the Quality Teaching Model, learning strategies instruction contributes to elevating the intellectual quality of learning, creating quality learning environments, and empowering students to understand the significance of learning. A student’s ability to learn is not merely a result of their intellectual potential or motivation, nor a permanent attribute. It is widely known from work done in the field of neuroscience that intellectual potential is malleable, and that achieving good academic performance is no longer limited to a selective minority. While appreciating that the road to achieving good academic performance might be more difficult for some students than for others, teachers need to help all students become more effective learners by assisting them to acquire, develop, and apply learning strategies that would make it easier for all to experience meaningful learning. The application of learning strategies stands opposed to direct instruction that focuses on the transmission and reception of learning content, and includes a variety of cognitive tools that students apply to enhance their understanding, improve their comprehension, and increase their performance on learning tasks.
With inclusive and special education in mind, the most effective learning strategies for the acquisition of information combine the limited use of a behavioristic, teacher-directed transmission approach to teaching with a powerful constructivist approach where students take control of their own learning and construct meaning. Learning strategies instruction involves the teaching of overt and covert tools to learners to enable them to understand and learn new material or skills, and not merely memorize information. Overt tools include visible tools for underlining important information, taking notes, and using charts, maps, tables, or graphic organizers to synthesize information. Covert tools rely on tools to mentally process information, such as interpreting and synthesizing information, and identifying relationships between different kinds of information. Learning strategies instruction requires teachers to explain learning tools and their purpose to students, model the application of tools to students, present opportunities to apply the tools in different tasks, and allow students to become self-directed in choosing suitable tools independently that would enable them to execute specific learning tasks successfully.
Winston C. Thompson
The concept of liberalism has a wide influence on contemporary work within the field of education. Given this breadth of effect, it is not surprising that liberalism can be invoked in the service of multiple ends—many of which appear to be at odds with one another. As such, this article will trace liberalism’s fundamental commitments of “equality” and “liberty” in education in order to provide a general shape to the arguments that animate its goals. Taken in tandem, these commitments provide access to the arguments that populate various forms of liberalism in education, such that their careful study enables educational researchers and practitioners to better position their understandings and analyses in a conceptual context.
In the context of offenders who have learning difficulties, autism, and/or social, emotional, and mental health problems, their families, and professionals who work with them, caring and ethical research processes can be explored via fieldnotes. Conducting life story interviews and recording fieldnotes within qualitative criminological, education, and sociological research have long since been used to document and analyze communities and institutions and the private and public spheres. They richly tell us about specific research contexts, or everyday lives and relationships, that interview transcripts alone perhaps overlook. It is in the process of recording and reflecting upon research relationships that we can see and understand care-full research. But caring and ethical research works in an interdependent and relational way. Therefore, the participant and the researcher are at times vulnerable, and recognition of this is critical in considering meaningful and healthy research practices. However, the acknowledgment of the fact that particular types of research can be messy, chaotic, and emotional is necessary in understanding caring research.
Marilene Proença Rebello de Souza and Silvia Helena Vieira Cruz
Access to education has generally been recognized as a human right. There is a consensus among the various sectors of civil society and government regarding the importance of schooling from the earliest years of life. But only recently have the fields of humanities and education begun to consider the importance of children’s perceptions, representations, and meanings attributed to the school and the educational institutions offered to them. Listening to children at school has drawn the attention of researchers when the right to a democratic school has been extended to more children, aiming at assuring them access to the knowledge socially constructed by mankind as well as access to social and cultural activities. Knowing what children think and feel during the process of schooling and in educational practices is today an important aspect of educational research. The qualitative approach has been shown to be fundamental in listening to very young children on various aspects of their school experience, thus promoting the expansion of knowledge about differing school contexts. However, this listening process presents several challenges for research, including the development of strategies that favor a child’s multiple ways of communicating and the search for solutions related to potential ethical issues. Researching children’s perspectives can provide a basic foundation for better pedagogical practices and public policies with regard to children.
Christopher J. Wagner
Literate identities, reading identities, and writing identities describe the ways that a person constructs the self as a reader, writer, and user of language. The study of literacy and identities is grounded in the idea that literacy is not just about skills related to language, print, and texts, but about individuals who must develop these skills. The learning of these skills is mediated by a person’s developing beliefs about language, literacy, and the self. Successful readers and writers enter, make sense of, and produce texts through personal and relational connections. Literacy, in this sense, is not just about knowing, using, and producing language and text, but about ways of being in relation to language and text.
Processes of socialization have often been used to explain how children learn to act and think like readers and writers through the observation, guidance, or apprenticeship of others. More recently, poststructural perspectives have drawn attention to how people are continuously engaged in the construction and reconstruction of identities across contexts, and have led to an attention to identities that may differ across domains. These views have been broadened by critical perspectives that have drawn attention to how relational and structural power guide individuals to think, act, and use language in ways that reflect social structures and history, and create opportunities and constraints for people’s literate identities. These and other perspectives view literate identities as increasingly complex, malleable, and shaped by factors that are both internal and external to the person. Aspects of schooling, including literacy instruction, play a role in directing and supporting these literate identities.
Clive Beck, Clare Kosnik, and Elizabeth Rosales
The longitudinal study of teachers gives a time perspective on the life and work of teachers, instead of just a snapshot at a particular point. The time period in question may be just a few intense months, as in some ethnographic research, or several decades, as in some life-history research. Longitudinal research is useful in exploring such topics as how teachers change and grow over their careers, changes in teachers’ professional satisfaction over the years, patterns of teacher retention and drop-out, the impact of teachers on their students over time, and the influence of preservice and/or in-service teacher education on teachers.
Continuous study of the same teachers over many years is challenging and accordingly not common. It is typically expensive and time-consuming, and extends beyond the time span of most research funding; moreover, many participants either leave the profession or move to other locations, making it difficult to keep in touch with them. Accordingly, additional ways to do longitudinal research need to be found: for example, studying teachers intensively for a shorter period; asking teachers to recall earlier phases in their life and/or career; or studying different cohorts of teachers at various career points (as in the classic Huberman study and parts of the U.K. VITAE research). Each of these methods has limitations but maintains the valuable outcome of providing a time perspective.
Where it can be arranged, however, interviewing the same teachers at intervals over several years has the advantage of enabling researchers to get to know the participants well. As a result, the researchers are in a better position to understand what the participants are saying in the interviews, and assess the veracity of their self-reporting about their views and practices, past and present. Also, a degree of trust is established such that the teachers are more likely to be frank about their feelings, challenges, and concerns. But one danger of the emerging relationship is that the support the relationship it provides may positively impact the teachers’ experience (e.g., helping them fine-tune their practice and maintain their morale to an unusually high level). This limitation has to be weighed against the advantages in deciding whether or not to use this approach to the longitudinal study of teachers.
Classroom behavior management has consistently been recognized as a central issue of importance in staff well-being, student success, and school culture. For decades, theories and models on how best to “manage” the behavior of students for a productive classroom have showed an increasing trend away from teacher-controlled reactive approaches to misbehavior toward more student-centered strategies to prevent misbehavior. Focusing on managing student behavior, either reactively or proactively, is coming at the problem from the wrong direction. The student behaviors that most affect teaching and learning in our classrooms are low-level disruptive, or “disengaged,” behaviors. These disengaged behaviors are best understood as indications of a student’s weakened affective or cognitive engagement with school. Schools wishing to have less disengaged behaviors need to refocus their lens on these behaviors, from how to “manage” them to how to strengthen targeted areas of engagement. This has direct implications for reforming classroom practices as well as school polices on behavior management.
Shibao Guo and Yan Guo
China has experienced major shifts from a centrally planned economy to a market economy, from centralization to decentralization, from state ownership to privatization, and from a decisive state to a weakened state. Despite China’s economic miracle, the country also faces unprecedented challenges, including rising social inequality, rural-urban divide, regional disparity, environmental degradation, declining health and education conditions, and polarization between the rich and poor. China’s profound socioeconomic and political transformations have led to significant fundamental changes to education in China, as manifested in its decentralization, marketization, and privatization. One significant paradigm change relates to the devolution of education power and policy from a centralized governance model to local governments. With the privatization and marketization of its education system, China has adopted a market-oriented approach with the orientation, provision, student enrollment, curriculum, and financing of education. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that there has been a withdrawal of the mighty state from its paternalistic role in the provision and subsidy of public education. Unfortunately, the market economy has further increased education inequalities. The maldistribution of resources and education opportunities raises important questions about issues of social justice and equity regarding who gets how much education as the social good.
While Marx and Engels wrote little on education, the educational implications of Marxism are clear. Education both reproduces capitalism and has the potential to undermine it. With respect to reproduction, it is informative to look at key texts by Althusser and Bowles and Gintis (and the latter’s legacy). As far as challenging capitalism is concerned, considerations are given to both theoretical developments and practical attempts to confront neoliberalism and enact socialist principles, the combination of which Marxists refer to as praxis. There have been constant challenges to Marxism since its conception, and in conclusion we look at two contemporary theories—critical race theory and its primacy of “race” over class—and intersectionality which has a tendency to marginalize class.
Helen St. Clair-Thompson and Sarah Mcgeown
Mental toughness describes how an individual deals with challenges, stress, and pressure. Conceptually it is related to constructs such as resilience, personality, and motivation. There is a debate about whether mental toughness is a personality trait, or instead a mindset that is amenable to change. However, there is a consensus that mental toughness is composed of a set of related attributes. According to the most popular model these attributes are challenge, commitment, control of emotion, control of life, confidence in abilities, and interpersonal confidence. In recent years research has revealed an important role for these attributes in education. Mental toughness scores have been found to predict a range of educational outcomes and experiences, including attainment, attendance, classroom behavior, peer relationships, and the ease of educational transitions. These findings have important implications for educational practice. They suggest that interventions aiming to enhance mental toughness could have widespread effects. The development of methods for enhancing mental toughness is still in its infancy, but a small number of studies suggest that they have great potential. Further developing our understanding of the origins of mental toughness and its role in education could therefore be very beneficial.
George W. Noblit
Meta-ethnography is a very popular method for the synthesis of qualitative research. It was designed for the field of education but has been exceedingly popular in the health sciences. In education, slow growth has given way to almost furious development. Meta-ethnography is a method for synthesizing qualitative studies. Studies are identified as related to a phenomenon of interest and these are reviewed and read repeatedly, leading to both a reduction in the number of relevant studies and further specification of the phenomenon of interest. The synthesis is a translation of the complete interpretive storylines of each study into the others. There are three types of translation: reciprocal (the storylines are commensurate and reinforce each other), refutational (the storylines critique each other), and line of argument. Each study contributes something distinct to a new storyline that characterizes all the studies taken together. Effecting these translations remains a challenge for most who conduct meta-ethnographies. The work in the 21st century in education has established meta-ethnography as an interpretive and critical endeavor, moving well beyond the original proposal.
Guofang Li, Zhuo Sun, and Haoyun Li
Metalinguistic awareness is a cognitive process that allows a person to explicitly think about structural features of language such as phonological, morphological, and orthographic features and use this knowledge base to monitor and control his/her use of language. Metalinguistic awareness is strongly associated with monolingual children’s early literacy skills. The concept of metalinguistic awareness has also been used to explore the possibility of any paralleled mechanism that metalinguistic awareness operates in predicting bilingual children’s early literacy learning, especially between two languages that are orthographically distant such as Chinese and English. Research on Chinese-English bilingual children in both Chinese as a first language context (e.g., Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) and Chinese as a heritage language context (e.g., Canada, United States, and the United Kingdom) confirms some cross-language facilitation of early literacy skills mediated by metalinguistic awareness in general, but overall research findings reveal a variance in terms of the directionality of transfer and aspects of transfer in predicting literacy skills in the two languages within the respective phonological, morphological, and orthographic awareness domain. Several linguistics-external factors such as individual children’s language proficiencies in the two languages and their exposure to formal language instruction mediate patterns of metalinguistic transfer in phonological, morphological, and orthographic awareness across the two different language contexts.
Marina Schwimmer and Kevin McDonough
Mindfulness meditation is a growing social phenomenon in Western countries and is now also becoming a common part of life in public schools. The concept of mindfulness originated in Buddhist thinking and meditation practices over 2,500 years ago. Its original purpose was mainly to alleviate people’s suffering by providing a path to inner wisdom and vitality, which implied the development of compassion, patience, and forgiveness, as well as other values conducive to inner peace. In the 1970s, this practice was popularized in the West as it was adapted to and integrated with secular intervention programs aimed at reducing stress and dealing with chronic pain.
Packages promoting mindfulness practices are disseminated commercially, backed by research in neuroscience and developmental psychology, for use in schools through programs like MindUp and Mindful Schools. In recent years, there has been a marked uptick of interest from educational researchers in mindfulness education. Several distinct research orientations or approaches can be discerned—mindfulness-based intervention (MBI), an instrumental approach that views mindfulness practices in clinical or therapeutic terms; a spiritualist approach, which emphasizes the rootedness of MBIs in ancient religious traditions and focuses on the benefits of mindfulness practices for individual spiritual growth; and a political approach, which highlights the potential benefits of MBIs to develop students’ capacities for democratic deliberation and participation.
Contemporary mindfulness education in schools also sometimes reflects the cultural influence of New Age values, an orientation distinct from the instrumental, spiritualist, and political approaches, and whose impact may raise troubling questions about the purported educational benefits of MBIs. Accordingly, the alliance between New Age values, neoliberal economic and cultural values, and mindfulness practices in contemporary democratic societies and schools should be given due consideration in assessing the relative educational costs and benefits of MBIs. In particular, cultural and educational values at the intersection of neoliberal values entrepreneurialism and New Age values of personal and spiritual growth may have corrosive rather than benevolent effects on the pursuit of democratic values in schools.
Nidhi S. Sabharwal and C. M. Malish
The complex nature of the higher education system in India demands a nuanced understanding of its functions, outcomes, and impact on various stakeholders, the economy, and society. Policy research aims to develop such an understanding through generating evidence-based perspectives for higher education planning and development in national contexts. Equity is one of the major domains of inquiry in higher education, and institutionalizing equity in the higher education process and its outcomes is therefore a major concern in policy discourse. A multi-sited study confirms that integrating quantitative and qualitative methods yields vital insights about the nature and forms of social exclusion and discrimination on campuses as well as about how institutional policies, structure, and practices contribute to the shaping of the lived experiences of students from diverse backgrounds. While a quantitative approach helps to assess the magnitude of the prevailing practice of discrimination and social exclusion on university campuses in an era of massification and increasing student diversity, a qualitative approach facilitates the understanding of how and why discriminatory practices continue to prevail on campuses. These insights are critical in developing an equity perspective in national and subnational contexts and formulating policies, strategies, and practices for institutionalizing equity in higher education.
The strength of the qualitative approach, including focused group discussions, has the capacity to generate evidence on collective experience and shared values, assumptions, and perceptions of the student body sharing common social belonging and life chances. It helps to unveil group-specific issues in a comparative framework. Because interviews with teachers and institutional leaders were conducted alongside focused group discussions with students, the contradictions and similarities of perceptions on each issue could be taken forward for further probing and cross checking. It was actually helpful to unravel multilayered narratives on diversity and discrimination in higher education contexts.
Focused group discussion, for example, helped to bring out the voices of the “invisibles,” or those who are not part of the mainstream. The contradiction observed between dominant narratives and counterculture further contributed to a nuanced understanding of the issues of diversity and discrimination. Issues like gender stereotyping and micro-aggression against marginalized social groups hitherto unknown to dominant discourse could not have been adequately captured with survey methods alone. Therefore, field work as a process not only generates experiential evidence but also serves a political purpose by giving voice to the silenced or to those student groups who remain on the margins of campus life.
It may be argued that qualitative and quantitative approaches are complementary rather than conflicting approaches, and the limitations of methodological monism in understanding social phenomena can be triumphed over by integrating quantitative and qualitative methods. Undoubtedly, there are challenges in integrating insights from data collected through quantitative and qualitative methods, and the overall research process is labor intensive and rigorous. One may, however, conclude that the critical insights developed through a mixed methodology are robust. While making a significant contribution to the body of knowledge on the system of higher education, a mixed methodology approach also makes a substantial contribution to developing new perspectives in policy discourses and directing transformations in the system to institutionalize equity.