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.
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.
There is an increasing interest in policy and research regarding the educational experiences of refugee and asylum-seeking children. In many countries across the globe these children constitute a growing segment of the student population. Like other student categories, refugee and asylum-seeking children have rights to an equal and meaningful education. Nevertheless, numerous research contributions have proven that these children are, from the outset, in a disadvantaged position that has been further exacerbated by poorly educated teachers, a lack of resources, the absence of appropriate support, exclusion, and isolation. There is far less evidence of positive examples. Three distinct perspectives have been widely discussed in the literature: a) inclusion and exclusion through organizational spaces; b) pedagogical practices and classroom-based interventions; and c) relations between schools and refugee and asylum-seeking parents.
A review of the literature suggests that refugee and asylum-seeking students or, for that matter, other migrant students with poor socioeconomic status in a host country will never have equal educational opportunities unless their previous experiences are properly assessed, understood, and recognized and unless their first language is acknowledged as a vital vehicle for learning. Furthermore, scaffolding must be provided by language support teachers, and students must be granted access to inclusive spaces on the same terms as other non-migrant students. Finally, parents ought to be provided with platforms for active involvement and a tangible opportunity to advocate for their children’s educational rights.
Mei Wu, MaryJo Benton Lee, Forrest W. Parkay, and Paul Pitre
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Since the 1950s, China has had a “dual system” for the education of the country’s 56 ethnic minority groups. Though Article 4 of China’s 1982 Constitution states that “All nationalities in the People’s Republic of China are equal,” the quality of education for ethnic minorities is lower than that provided for the Han majority. Linguistic, cultural, economic, and geographic differences among China’s ethnic groups have resulted in unequal educational opportunities and outcomes for different groups. Several factors contribute to these inequities: a shortage of qualified minority teachers, inadequate professional development for teachers, few textbooks and learning materials in minority languages, curricula that do not reflect local knowledge, limited use of educational technology in classrooms, and poor communication between schools and communities. To date, policies and regulations developed by the Chinese government to address these problems have met with limited success. If China’s ethnic minorities are to benefit from China’s rapid socioeconomic development and rising stature on the world stage, the education they receive must reflect more appropriate language policies, innovative teaching practices, and enriched learning resources.
In 1982, Denny Taylor coined the term “family literacy” to reference the ways young children and their parents interact around texts. Since then, the term family literacy has generally been applied to the practices that occur in homes to support young children as they become readers and writers. However, 30 years later, this definition negates the full scope of possibilities that might inform our understandings of the literacy practices that occur within home spaces and among family members. These possibilities reflect two important trends increasingly recognized within literacy research communities. First, technological advances have affected the ways people read and write and the multimodal literacy practices that have come to define literacy in families and homes. These developments are often the focus of New Literacy Studies as defined by the New London Group and others. Second, while generally not addressed in terms of family literacy, a substantial and growing body of research has documented the out-of-school literacy practices of adolescents and youth. Many of these literacy practices are enacted and displayed in home settings. While connections between out-of-school literacy practices and family literacy are generally not explicit, homes and families provide significant social contexts that are critical to engaging in technological, peer-informed, and popular culture practices. In short, family literacy does not end once children learn to read. In contrast, family literacy assumes new forms and involves new modalities that both echo and extend the literacy practices found within families. This is significant, as it challenges conceptions of adolescent and youth literacy as being separate from the literacy practices of families.
To extend what is meant by family literacy, it is redefined as more than traditional activities that involve young children with texts. Instead, researchers are challenged to consider the full range of literacy practices that occur among family members and within homes across time. In doing this, family literacy and new literacy studies are brought together. Thus, the term family/home literacy is used to recognize not only the literacy practices that are enacted between children and parents, but the full range of literacy practices that occur among all family members—including siblings, extended family members, and friends. In short, family/home literacy practices are intertwined with home literacy affordances, which include the texts, opportunities, and technological resources that are available and used in homes. In order to explore family/home literacies over time, children’s literacy practices, including traditional and technological family/home literacy practices, are explored. Issues raised include parental mentoring of school-age children as they encounter new technologies at home, the adaptation of available resources by children as they move into and through adolescence, and transactions involving texts (both traditional and digital) among adolescents, young adults, and their parents.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Gypsies are a minority community whose lives are often shaped by multiple oppressions. While their ethnicity can be linked to accounts of migration stretching back over 1,000 years, to Northern India, the historic details surrounding this movement are often contested within academic debates and largely unknown in public discourses. There are similar gaps in knowledge about important moments in Gypsy history, including their settlement, and often enslavement, in many European countries and the devastating impact of the Nazi Holocaust. This lack of knowledge has contributed to the persistence of racist stereotypes about Gypsies, who are often associated with dirtiness, itinerancy, and criminality. Within these stereotypes is a tendency to identify “real” Gypsies as a nomadic, traveling group of people. While movement and travel remain important elements of Gypsy identity, the reality for many families is that they lead relatively settled lifestyles. This should be unsurprising given the history of European settlement and slavery; however, one consequence has been for non-nomadic Gypsies to have their identity called into question.
Schools are one area where Gypsies and non-Gypsies encounter each other closely. Schools are also a field in which Gypsy children and families are under pressure to conform to wider educational policy making. Schools often appear to be a context in which the multiple oppressions experienced by Gypsies are foregrounded. Gypsy pupils regularly experience bullying and racism from their peers, other parents, and school staff. Gypsy parents fear their children will lose aspects of their cultural identity by engaging with schools, a concern exacerbated by beliefs that non-Gypsy adolescent culture is driven by risky behaviors such as promiscuity, drinking, and drug taking. At the same time policy makers have increasingly identified the nomadic Gypsy identity as a category through which to shape and understand Gypsy pupils’ educational experiences. This nomadic identity highlights some specific structural flaws in how education may or may not be delivered to Gypsy pupils. There has been widespread concern for many years that the biggest underlying factor making school attendance problematic for Gypsy children has been homelessness. Many families lack secure accommodation not because they persist with a nomadic lifestyle but because of a shortage of Gypsy and Traveler sites. Recent UK legislation has made the development of new Gypsy and Traveler sites much less likely by requiring Gypsy families to prove their “nomadic” identity. At a more local level, there is evidence that schools understand a distinction between delivering a sedentary and a nomadic education (often in order to demonstrate an awareness of policy making). However, this identification of pupils as nomadic both misrepresents the realities of their identity and also, more troublingly, is often used to explain why pupils no longer attend school.
The study of educational administration in the United Kingdom began in a limited way in the 1970s, but it became much more significant following the 1988 Education Reform Act, which gave substantial powers to principals and school governing bodies. This led to the scope of leadership and administration being greatly expanded to include management of finance, staff, pupil admissions, and school site, as well as their traditional role as instructional leaders.
Provision for public education was disaggregated beginning in 1999, when education was devolved to assemblies in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, as part of the government’s devolution agenda. In England, the government established the National College for School Leadership in 2000; this had a major impact on policy, research, and practice for the next decade, before its decline from 2013, and its eventual closure in 2016. School leadership preparation is now at a crossroads, within an increasingly fragmented schools system and without the national voice that the National College provided.
Kalwant Bhopal and Martin Myers
Home schooling (often referred to as “home education” in the United Kingdom) is a decision made by many types of families to take direct responsibility for their children’s education rather than sending them to school. Home schooling is an increasingly popular choice for parents in Europe and North America. In many respects the ubiquity of schooling is a relatively recent innovation reflecting the increasing management of educational practices by the state. Traditionally, home schooling may have been the only option available to many families until the 20th century.
In the United States the return toward home schooling became an identifiable trend among disparate types of families in the late 1960s. On the one hand it appealed to conservative, Christian evangelical families who have argued that education is the responsibility of the family and who also wanted schooling to reflect their personal religious values. On the other hand, home schooling was the choice of radical and liberal parents who challenged both the pedagogical practices of schools and the types of knowledge prevalent in the curriculum.
More recently, however, a more heterogeneous and diverse range of families have increasingly turned toward home schooling. These include families from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, those whose children have special educational needs, and those who are dissatisfied with the education that schools offer their children. In tandem with the growth in numbers there has been widespread concern that parents who choose to home school are putting their children at risk of physical abuse, neglect, lack of interaction with others, and poor educational outcomes.
The identification of the risks of home schooling is often a controversial subject, not least because many home schoolers specifically choose this route in response to the risks they associate with sending their children to school. For many families, their decisions to home educate are often entangled within contested discourses shaped by ethnicity, religious, cultural affiliations, or a dissatisfaction with the education mainstream schools offer. For black and minority ethnic families, home schooling is often a strategy adopted to counter the racism, oppression or inequity their children experience in schools. For other families, such as those with children who have special educational needs, schools are simply unable to cater to their children’s needs. How parents manage the different risks associated with making this decision is key to understanding the complexities of home education and why some families chose to do it, while others do not.
One of the largest reforms in the school systems of European countries is inclusive schooling. All over Europe, enrollment of students with special educational needs (SEN) in regular classrooms is rising, and at the same time, the proportion of students with SEN in segregated school settings is declining. Despite a significant push to implement inclusive education across the countries of the European Union, the concept of inclusive education still remains unclear, and the practical implementation of it is limited in most countries. There are huge variations across countries in the challenges they face and the way they are attempting to implement inclusion in their region. For example, whether a child with SEN will attend inclusive or special education is a decision made by different stakeholders in different countries. While in some countries this choice is typically made by parents, in other countries professionals decide which school is most appropriate for students with SEN. Moreover, the resources available to implement inclusive education differ widely across Europe.
Jayanthi Narayan and Nibedita Patnaik
Education is a fundamental right of all children, including those with special educational needs. Efforts toward achieving this right have resulted in focused attention from governments the world over, improving the quality of education in schools and thus leading to dignified social status for the students who were marginalized earlier and denied admission to schools. This worldwide movement following various international conventions and mandates has resulted in local efforts to reach rural remote areas with education by the governments in most countries. Although there has been significant progress in reaching children, the spread is not uniform. Children living in rural and tribal areas or in remote parts of countries still have many barriers preventing them from receiving education. The essence of inclusive education is to build the capacity to reach out to all children, promoting equity. While in the 1990s special needs education was a focus, the importance of it becoming part of the overall educational system led to reforms in regular schools resulting in inclusive education to address diverse learning needs of children. How successful are we in these efforts, particularly in the remote and rural areas?
Special and inclusive education in rural and remote areas has varied models and practices. Educating children with special educational needs in rural and remote areas is a challenge. Although there are schools in such areas, not all are equipped to address the needs of children with special needs. Further, the teachers working in rural areas in many countries are not trained to teach those with special needs nor are there technological support systems as there are in urban areas. Yet, interestingly, in some rural and tribal communities, the teachers are naturally at ease with children with diverse needs, as the schools tend to have heterogeneous classes, with one teacher having to teach combined groups of different grade levels. There is evidence that rural teachers show less resistance to include children with special needs when compared to urban teachers. Community supports in rural areas due to rural residents’ relatively homogeneous lifestyle is another supporting factor for smooth inclusion in some rural areas. While primary education is ensured in most rural and remote areas, the children have to travel long distances to semi-urban and urban areas for secondary and higher education, a hardship that is compounded further when there is a disability. It is observed in many rural areas that children with special needs tend to learn the traditional job skills pertaining to that area naturally, though such lessons are not always blended in the school curriculum. Teacher preparation for rural areas that includes the latest technological developments and vocation-focused education is bound to make education more meaningful and will encourage natural inclusion of the children in society.
Inclusive school reform has been on the education agenda in many countries, including Swaziland. One of the forces that have shaped this reform agenda is the demands on transforming schools to cater to learners with special needs and disabilities. Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) is one approach to change that is currently being used with some success in general education. This approach has proved to have the potential of developing more inclusive schools. CSR provides administrators and teachers with a framework to develop successful, effective, and sustainable inclusive programs. There is a belief that sustainability of school reform is dependent on comprehensive approaches to school change. This is because they develop effective, sustainable programs that improve educational outcomes for all learners, and provide the necessary support. This in turn may result in general education classrooms being transformed to accommodate a broader range of learners. Inclusive school reform in Swaziland has also been strengthened by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) comprehensive school reform concept locally known as Schools as Centres of Care and Support strategy (SCCS) but regionally referred to as Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) and internationally known as Child-Friendly Schools (CFS). This program was initiated by Media in Education Trust (MIET) Africa in 2003, as a broader strategy of education support for vulnerable learners. SCCS provides a good framework for Swaziland; it addresses barriers to quality teaching and learning and hence even locally it is also referred to as CSTL. SCCS was adopted and launched in Swaziland in 2006. The siSwati name for the program is “Inqaba,” which means fortress—safe haven for all learners. Customizing the concept to Inqaba, through a national competition involving primary school learners, gave it a Swazi flavor and ensured ownership. The specific objective of the Inqaba is to create school environments that are friendly, safe, healthy, and conducive for inclusive quality teaching and learning. To achieve this objective, the strategy is based on seven pillars, namely, Protection and Safety; Psychosocial Support; Food Security; Health, Sanitation, Water, and Hygiene; HIV/AIDS; Life-skills; and Quality Teaching and Learning. At the heart of the program lies capacity building for school-community partnership to identify barriers to teaching and learning and provide inclusive schools that welcome every child. The inclusive school reform approach in Swaziland also involves applying principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) through provision of relevant classroom-specific tools to support in particular the pillar on quality teaching and learning. The integration of digital tools has also gained currency in the school system and is seen as an important element in reforming schools to be inclusive. Notwithstanding the challenges related to its implementation, the Inqaba concept brings a more comprehensive approach to inclusive school reform characterized by shared decision-making, collaboration, and teamwork. This approach presents a huge potential to develop successful and sustainable inclusive schools.
“Redressing Aboriginal disadvantage” through Indigenous education policy and studies has been on the policy agenda in Australian institutions for several decades. With notable exceptions, Indigenous studies programs have tended to position Indigenous peoples as objects of study. These objectifications still largely pivot around constructions of Indigenous cultures and peoples through deficit or essentializing discourses. The apprehension of these limiting discourses in Indigenous Australian studies for non-Indigenous learners contribute to the reproduction and reinforcement of contemporary justifications for Indigenous peoples’ colonial disenfranchisement. Often, limited attention is given to examining the relationality of knowledge, people, and ideas in (neo)colonial domains and, subsequently, to the deconstruction of the epistemological conditions under which Indigenous peoples were and are “known.” The Indigenist Standpoint Pedagogical (ISP) framework was designed to develop critical tools for all students to understand the epistemic forces that empower their worldviews and behaviors. The key question for an ISP framed learning space shifts is not, “What do students need to know about Indigenous peoples and experiences?” but rather, “Where does my knowledge come from and what is its purpose and impact on the way I relate to, and form, understandings about Australian history and Indigenous Australian peoples and experiences?” In the latter approach, students are exposed to opportunities to theorize and examine structural privilege. They engage in critical self-enquiry to interrogate the conditions that impact on their interpretations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian experiences throughout history and into the 21st century. In this sense, ISP is an inherently reformative, relational, and critically reflexive framework that supports and facilitates the reintegration of Indigenous knowledge perspectives in ways that interrupt the enduring impact of the colonial narrative.
Yvonne Poitras Pratt, Dustin W. Louie, Aubrey Jean Hanson, and Jacqueline Ottmann
The need to decolonize and Indigenize education stems from shared experiences of colonialism across the globe. In a world divided by ongoing conflict, and fueled by issues of power and control, the need to closely examine the ways that education has served hegemonic interests will help to inform future educational initiatives as well as serve as a form of reparation for those Indigenous peoples who have endured the dire consequences of colonialism. Present-day efforts to reclaim, restore, and revitalize threatened traditions are supported by international bodies such as the United Nations, in tandem with a range of approaches at national levels.
Decolonizing education entails identifying how colonization has impacted education and working to unsettle colonial structures, systems, and dynamics in educational contexts. We use the term education in these descriptions broadly to name the sociocultural task of understanding ways of knowing and being (epistemological and ontological systems) and the ongoing formation and transmission of knowledges: for instance, we mean both formal education as structured through Western schooling and other forms of education such as those traditionally practiced within Indigenous families and communities. Decolonizing education fits within larger understandings of decolonization and Indigenization at socio-political levels. However, these undertakings address in particular the colonization of the mind, of knowledge, language, and culture, and the impacts of colonization at personal and collective levels of physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, and intellectual experience. In this time of transition, the work of decolonizing schooling necessarily precedes that of Indigenizing education for most educators and learners; yet, in keeping with Indigenous knowledge traditions, education must remain in a state of flux as we come to know this work collectively.
Roseli R. Mello, Marcondy M. de Souza, and Thaís J. Palomino
Self-determination of the original peoples of any nation, preservation of their territories, preservation of traditions, and negotiation of customs facing national cultures are central themes in the debate about and among indigenous peoples in the world. School education is directly linked to such themes as an instrument of acculturation or self-determination and emancipation. As in other countries of the globe, throughout history, what happened and is happening in Brazil is not isolated fact. Current conditions are the product of colonization processes, the development of industrial society, and more recently of globalization. Such historical processes bring struggles, confrontations, transformations, and solidarity. In the legal sphere, international conventions, declarations, and treaties have influenced more or less directly the norms and laws on the subject: from the papal bull and treaties between colonizing kingdoms, to the Declaration of Human Rights, to Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, the Brazilian indigenous issue, like that of many other countries, is also based on, supported by, or held back by actions, debates, and international interests.
But what makes the case of Brazil worthy of relevance for thinking about indigenous education? Two elements make up an answer: the specific way the governors establish relations with the original peoples, and the fact that Brazil has the greatest diversity of indigenous communities.
Celia Haig-Brown and Te Kawehau Hoskins
Indigenous teacher education has proven to be a powerful influence in the resurgence of Indigenous cultures and languages globally. In Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand, while there are numerous distinctions between the countries in size, linguistic and cultural diversity, and the histories of Indigenous peoples and colonization, an Indigenous commitment to schooling has shaped long-term and recent aspirations in both contexts.
Within Canada, the proliferation of Indigenous teacher education programs is a direct result of a 1972 landmark national policy document Indian Control of Indian Education. This document written by Indigenous leaders in response to the Canadian government was the culmination of a decades-long, relentless commitment to creating the best possible schooling systems for Indigenous students within the provinces and territories. In 2015, despite some significant gains, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada completed its work articulating Calls to Action that reinforce the original recommendations, particularly the focus on Indigenous control of education. In the Aotearoa New Zealand context, the establishment of Māori language schooling pathways and Māori medium teacher education programs has been made possible by activism focused on the recognition of Indigenous-Māori rights to language and culture guaranteed by the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. Forms of constitutional recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi mean that New Zealand endorses a social policy of biculturalism.
From the 1970s and 1980s, responses to exclusionary and racist colonial policies and practices have led to the creation of teacher education programs in both Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand transforming universities and schools and establishing spaces of Indigenous authority, activism and expertise. While the pace of change varies radically from place to place and from institution to institution, and the specific contexts of the two countries differ in important ways, the innumerable Indigenous graduates of the programs make ongoing contributions to Indigenizing, decolonizing, and educating Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike. The growth and strengthening of an Indigenous education sector have led to significant policy and curriculum reforms across the education systems and to ongoing engagement in critique, advocacy, research, and practice. Throughout their development, Indigenous leadership and control of the programs remain the immediate and long-range goals.
The term “interculturality” acknowledges the complexity of locations, identities, and modes of expression in a global world and the desire to raise awareness, foster intercultural dialogue, and facilitate understanding across and between cultures. Intercultural arts is a critical component of interculturality.
One of many global educational imperatives is to further understanding and engage critically in what constitutes intercultural arts. Intercultural arts practitioners and researchers play a significant role in this undertaking. A close examination of intercultural arts work and encounters unravels complex relationships among arts disciplines and ways to conceptualize and understand intercultural arts travels. Intercultural arts research sheds new insights into shared cultural and intercultural futures that need to be reimagined and co-created with a sense of ethical obligations, exploration, openness, and reflexivity. This leads to embracing a multiperspective worldview that addresses and celebrates the embodied nature of intercultural arts practices across global contexts: a worldview that is continually constructed, dynamic, and fluid, existing both within and between locations, and that connotes a particular type of ethical educational space.
The study of interculturality in today’s society in general, and in actual intercultural arts practice in particular, is indispensable. For educators who want to engage in researching their professional practice in the “field” of intercultural arts, “field” is a useful agricultural metaphor for the various processes and tools used in researching intercultural arts practice. Social researchers talk, for example, about “entering the field” and “gathering” data as if venturing into the world to harvest material for processing (analysis) before its eventual distribution and consumption by a society hungrily seeking new information to build up its body of knowledge and increase its capacity for growth and improvement. However, for education practitioners researching their own professional practice, and their journey into and focus on “intercultural arts,” it will feel much more fluid and uncertain than being on dry land, and it will require them to locate and address the overlap of practice and ethical agendas in educational research.
There are at least three approaches to Islamic education: interpretive, critical, and deconstructive understandings of Islamic education. These mutually intertwined approaches to Islamic education lend themselves to various practices through which they engender specific human actions. In the main, the notion of Islamic education can be attentive to some of the ethical dilemmas in the contemporary world, such as human trafficking, global warming, and global terrorism. First, education in Islam is constituted by the notions of hudā (guidance), tarbiyyah (socialization), and hikmah (wisdom)—underlying meanings that give Islamic education its distinctive form. These are also referred to as three intertwined theoretical approaches to Islamic education. In turn, these concepts can give rise to various human actions referred to as practices of Islamic education. Therefore, second, the aforementioned educative concepts engender a’māl (human actions) that can be responsive to undermining ethical dilemmas in the contemporary world, such as ijtihād (individual striving), shūrā (dialogical/deliberative engagement), and ummah (communal action). As a consequence of the prevalence of major ethical predicaments in and about Islamic education in especially the Arab and Muslim world, it is argued that dilemmas of parochialism and male chauvinism, religious and ideological differences, and Islamophobia can most appropriately be addressed through critical and responsible human action. Therefore, third, the a’māl of ijtihād (individual striving), shūrā (dialogical/deliberative engagement), and ummah (communal action) can cultivate responsibility, humanity, diversity, and concern for the other in dealing with the aforementioned human predicaments.
Islamophobia is a term used to describe society’s phobic reaction to a certain religious or ideological group. Historically, the coined word Islamophobia has been manipulated into various constructs, which pose a microcosm-macrocosm challenge for educators over whether or not the education system can act as a platform for better understanding what is currently transpiring in the world. It is in the classroom that educators and students can grapple with the sociophobic situation and pull apart the two sides of Islam and phobia. In the classroom there are learning opportunities that can foster critical new understandings about why social phobias exist and challenge, through an antiphobic curriculum, the fear and indifference of otherness. New and higher levels of immigration in the Western world, rising tensions in non-Muslim populations, and the baggage of history have brought us to a critical turning point. Educators can respond positively and constructively to this challenge and opportunity and help to steer the course. Although Islamophobia is present in many countries worldwide, assimilationist policies vary from country to country. Nonetheless, individual countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Australia, and in those in Western Europe, have their own takes on Islamophobia. Since 9/11 there has been significant agreement among scholars that societal changes can be constructed through the systematic employment of specific curricular initiatives. These initiatives call into question the traditional trajectory of how the sentiments of Islamophobia can be successfully countered in the classroom to reduce sociophobic tensions and increase cultural and linguistic awareness. This can happen through culturally sustaining pedagogy, whose primary objective is to embrace literate, linguistic, and cultural pluralism in the school system. Education has tremendous power to challenge phobic perspectives and move beyond the traditional realm of what has historically been the norm in the classroom.
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.
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.