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Article

Barbara Crossouard and Máiréad Dunne

Education has been a central institution in the installation and legitimation of gender binaries and racialized difference in colonial and postcolonial eras. While the term “postcolonial” can refer to the period after which colonized nations gained their independence, a postcolonial critique also engages with the afterlife of the metaphysics of Western modernity. Notably, the imperial project of Western modernity assumed the superiority of the colonizers and provided the legitimation for the deep injustices of colonization to be framed as a “civilizing mission.” In particular, the processes of colonization imposed a “modern/colonial gender system,” which reconstructed the gender norms of many societies around the world, and which subordinated women by binding them to the domestic sphere. Its “biologic” presumed a heterosexual matrix in ways that were also profoundly racialized. Importantly, education was a critical institution that not only legitimated Western knowledges and values, but also secured women’s regulation and subordination. In postcolonial eras, education was given central importance in ways that have tied it to modern imperatives. For the newly independent postcolonial nation, education was critical in the construction of a national imaginary but this framing has reproduced rather than disrupting colonial gender norms. Harnessing education in support of national development inserted the postcolonial nation in a hierarchy of “developed” and “developing” nations. The focus on development similarly permeated efforts at curricular reform, such that they often reproduced the gendered, racialized, and classed hierarchies of colonial education. What counted as legitimate knowledge remained framed by Western elite institutions and their technologies of power. Importantly, from the moment of their independence, the global reach of multilateral organizations has constantly framed the postcolonial trajectories of “developing” nations and their educational reforms. Although often contradictory, the discourses of such organizations intensified the imperatives of education for national development. This compounded pressures to increase educational access beyond elite groups and to include more females. However, the technologies of power that support these international policy agendas bind such reforms to modern imperatives, so that they have become a critical site for the reinscription of binary understandings of gender. This is also true for contemporary international concerns for “quality” education. This is prosecuted largely through promotion of learner-centered education, a concept that is also infused with Western democratic ideals and values. Interrogation of the “hidden curriculum” further shows that the education in postcolonial contexts remains a key institution through which gender is instantiated in essentialized and binary ways, infused by modern ideals of presumptive heteronormativity. Resisting such binaries requires an understanding of gender as something that we “do,” or that we “perform,” within the contingencies and exigencies of particular social and cultural contexts. In turn, these theoretical understandings call for in-depth qualitative studies that can attend to the particularities of the gender regimes in different educational contexts and other intersecting structures of difference (race, ethnicity, religion, class, sexuality) that are rendered invisible by education’s legitimation of difference as a question of disembodied individual merit and ability.

Article

Young people’s experiences with spaces commonly called “the streets” are greatly influenced by gender and sexuality. Because queer and trans youth are policed in specific ways because of their identities and presentations and because queer and trans youth are more likely to experience homelessness than their peers, it is vitally important to understand the ways these young people are making meaning, knowledge, and culture from their experiences on “the streets” within the contexts of the United States and Canada.

Article

Formal education supports various goals related to the transmission of a society’s values, from teaching basic literacy to instilling moral virtues. Although schools serve as places of assimilation and socialization into dominant norms, schools are also spaces where young people experiment with their own ideals and self-expressions. Researchers interested in how young people learn to inhabit gendered roles or “positions” highlight the significant role that schooling plays in gender subjectification. Put simply, gender subjectification is the process by which one becomes recognizable to oneself (and to others) as a gendered subject. Schools are key institutions where individuals learn to negotiate their places in society and to consider possible futures. Through interacting with one another and with the overt and hidden curricula in school, as well as with various social structures outside school, individuals are shaped by various discourses that involve desires, beliefs, rituals, policies, and practices. Education research focusing on gender subjectification has explored the mechanisms by which schools shape and reproduce, for example, the gendered knowledge that young people come to internalize and take up as “normal” or acceptable for themselves and for others, as well as what they resist or reject. As with all social institutions, a school is subject to and influenced by various communications that circulate and intersect inside and outside the school walls. These discourses include but are not limited to “official” communications such as laws, policies, and state- or district-sanctioned curriculum materials, various conversations circulating among media and fora, and conversations from peer groups, the home, and community groups. From these diverse and often contradictory sets of discourses, schools privilege and disseminate their own “discursive selections” concerning gender. These selections work on and through students to shape possibilities as well as place constraints on not only how students understand themselves as gendered subjects but also how they come to those understandings. Studies investigating education and gender suggest that inequities and inequalities often begin in early schooling and have long-lasting implications both inside and outside schools. School and classroom discourses tend to privilege hegemonic (meaning dominant and normative) notions of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality while silencing, punishing, and, in some cases, even criminalizing differences. Research concerned with gender subjectification and school has addressed numerous significant questions such as: What are the gendered landscapes of schooling, and how do individuals experience those landscapes? What are the everyday discourses and practices of schooling (both formal and informal) that work on how gender gets “done,” and how do these aspects interact and function? How does school impose constraints on, as well as offer possibilities for, gender subjectivity, when institutional contexts that shape subjectivities are also in motion? Ultimately, these questions concern the role that schooling has in shaping how individuals think about and “do” selfhood. In general, critical studies of gender and subjectification gesture toward hope and possibilities for more equality, more consensuality, and more inclusivity of individual differences.

Article

Nicholas C. Burbules

Meritocracy is a normative principle directing the distribution of opportunities and benefits based on ability, talent, or effort. It is a central issue in education, which seems centrally concerned with identifying, developing, and rewarding merit. But many have come to doubt the reality of meritocracy, apart from its worth as an ideal; and in a society in which opportunities and benefits (including educational opportunities and benefits) are in fact not distributed based on merit, the belief in meritocracy functions as a kind of legitimating myth. The essay concludes that meritocracy is an ambivalent principle, producing some things that we want and many things that we do not want.

Article

The philosophy of Islamic education covers a wide range of ideas and practices drawn from Islamic scripture, metaphysics, philosophy, and common piety, all of which accumulate to inform discourses of learning, pedagogy, and ethics. This provides a definition of Islamic education and yet also of Islam more generally. In other words, since metaphysics and ontology are related to questions of learning and pedagogy, a compendious and indigenous definition of “education” offers an insight into a wider spectrum of Islamic thought, culture, and weltanschauung. As such, there is no singular historical or contemporary philosophy of Islamic education which avails all of this complexity but rather there exists a number of ideas and practices which inform how education plays a role in the embodiment of knowledge and the self-actualization of the individual self to ultimately come to know God. Such an exposition may come to stand as a superordinate vision of learning framing Islamic educational ideals. Questions of how these ideas are made manifest and practiced are partly answered through scripture as well as the historical, and continuing, importance of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam; as paragon and moral exemplar in Islamic thought. Having said “I was sent as a teacher,” his life and manner (sunnah) offer a wide-ranging source of pedagogic and intellectual value for his community (ummah) who have regarded the emulation of his character as among the highest of human virtues. In this theocentric cosmology a tripart conception of education emerges, beginning with the sacred nature of knowledge (ʿilm), the imperative for its coupling with action (ʿamal), in reference to the Prophet, and finally, these foundations supporting the flourishing of an etiquette and comportment (adab) defined by an equanimous state of being and wisdom (ḥikma). In this sense, the reason for there being not one identifiable philosophy of Islamic education, whether premodern or in the modern context, is due to the concatenations of thoughts and practices gravitating around superordinate, metaphysical ideals. The absence of a historical discipline, named “philosophy of education” in Islamic history, infers that education, learning, and the nurturing of young minds is an enterprise anchored by a cosmology which serves the common dominators of divine laudation and piety. Education, therefore, whether evolving from within formal institutional arenas (madrasas) or the setting of the craft guilds (futuwwa), help to enunciate a communality and consilience of how human beings may come to know themselves, their world, and ultimately God.

Article

The increase of transgender visibility and politics correlates with a renowned interest in gender equity in schools. The diversity of trans* and gender-expansive social identities, along with divergent conceptualizations of the meaning transing/trans*ing, ontology, identity, and embodiment, produces a wide range of ideal and pragmatic approaches to gender equity and justice in education. Fields and analytical frameworks that emerge from Decolonial Feminism, Queer Indigenous Studies, Queer of Color Critique in education, Jotería studies, and transgender studies in the United States have unique definitions, political commitments, and epistemological articulations to the meaning and purpose of transing/trans*ing. These divergent articulations of trans*ing often make projects of transgender equity and justice incommensurable to each other, or they converge at the various scalar aspects of equity design and implementation. By historicizing, or re-membering the rich body of decolonial modes of trans*ing bodies, knowledge, and selves, trans* of color critique in education research makes trans* justice possible by disrupting white-centric approaches to transgender inclusion that may fall short in the conceptualization of trans* justice and what makes a trans* livable life for queer and trans people of color.

Article

Despite the ubiquity of categories of race, sexuality, and gender in K–12 schools in the United States, there is limited research documenting how these categories influence the experiences of students, reflecting constraints on knowledge production, particularly with respect to queer of Color theories in education. Within the research that exists, scholars have used varying paradigms of difference, some of which erase and others of which recognize and theorize the relationships between race and queerness. Many studies have described intersecting structures of domination in U.S. schools and the lack of attention to intersectionality in school-based supports for queer youth. Fewer studies document examples of student resistance and activism, suggesting needs for future theorizing, research, and practice. Although the bodies of students, educators, staff, and family members in K–12 schools have been and continue to be understood through categories of race, sexuality, and gender, there is limited empirical research discussing the ways that race and queerness are co-constitutive of people’s experiences in the U.S. schooling system. In part, scholarly knowledge production has been constrained because of schools’ hostility to queer research and critical projects more generally, with queer research, and especially queer of Color research, often producing oppositional knowledge in tension with schools as state-sanctioned institutions. When research has been conducted about race and queerness in U.S. schools, scholars have used three main paradigms to conceptualize, or problematically erase, the relationship between race and queerness: discrete, additive, and intersectional perspectives. Discreteness suggests that race and queerness are separate, disconnected identities. The other two perspectives recognize interrelationships. An additive perspective suggests that identities are a sum of parts, whereas an intersectional perspective suggests identities as co-constitutive and resulting in unique, qualitatively different experiences. Research attending to the relationships of race and queerness has revealed that U.S. schools are unwelcoming if not outright hostile to queer youth, resulting in negative consequences such as lowered academic achievement and poorer psychological well-being. The particular experiences of and reactions to such marginalization vary with respect to intersections of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and social class. Although school-based supports such as supportive educators, inclusive curriculum and policies, and extracurricular clubs are beneficial, too frequently these supports lack attention to intersections of race and queerness, limiting their beneficial impact. These tensions show the need for intersectional coalition building approaches to a key element of anti-racist queer educational activism. Importantly, queer youth enact resistance and activism in schools in ways that are individualized and collective. Some resistance has been school-sanctioned (such as writing) and other instances beyond what schools sanction (such as violence). Collective forms were most common as queer youth of Color often drew on embodied and community knowledges to advocate for themselves and peers. In the absence of broader support, queer youth often used privilege, such as whiteness, as protection and thus reified oppressive values and practices. Future educational research needs to focus further on the intersections of race and queerness to help inform educational theories and practices to help queer youth, both white and of Color, learn and flourish in U.S. schools.

Article

Walter S. Gershon

Education is a sensory experience. This is the case regardless how a sensorium is constructed. A sensorium is how a group defines, categorizes, and conceptualizes the senses, a Western five-senses model for example. Regardless of the sociocultural norms and values a sensorium engenders, animals, human and nonhuman alike, experience their lives through the senses. From this perspective, anything that might be considered educational, regardless of context and irrespective of questions of what might “count” as schooling, is a sensory experience. Sensuous curriculum sits at the intersection of two transdisciplinary fields, curriculum and sensory studies. As its name suggests, sensuous curriculum is an expression of ongoing critical educational studies of, with, and through the senses. In so doing, sensuous curriculum brings to the fore the extraordinary nature of everyday experiences in educational ecologies, from entangled sociocultural norms and values to the ways that sensory input and interpretation inform every aspect of educational ways of being, knowing, and doing. Sensoria have always been tools for understandings, particularly for continually marginalized groups whose claims are often dismissed through Western, Eurocentric framings. For the notion and instantiation of framings require both a set of universally understood constructs and their applications as well as the necessity of the act: when framing, someone or something is always framed. Providing critical tools for the interruption of such constructs and their use, sensuous curriculum is a rich site of study in ways that are theoretically and materially significant, while offering often underutilized trajectories for the exploration of educational understandings.

Article

Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn, Melissa Silk, and Jane Martin

STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education has become a global agenda, with schooling systems around the world in developed and developing countries seeking to incorporate STEM programs into their in-school and out-of-school curricula. While disciplinary integration has been common practice in primary (elementary) schooling for many decades, in the early 21st century the STEM education movement has promoted an increased focus on project- and problem-based learning across disciplines in secondary schools as well. Research suggests, however, that STEM education programs can face barriers in their implementation, often depending on whether they are designed to align with existing curriculum outcomes or whether they are developed as cocurricular programs. Challenges are also presented by the need for professional learning to equip teachers with new skills and knowledge in designing and delivering STEM education. In addition, some researchers and educators have argued for STEAM—integration of the arts in STEM education. For those concerned with school reform, a great strength of STEM and STEAM education approaches lies in the potential for transdisciplinarity. As such, new opportunities and possibilities for framing driving questions and addressing contemporary societal challenges are created. Two particular issues identified as critical are (a) the potential contribution of STEM education to creating a sustainable future, and (b) the importance of STEM education for social justice, in ensuring all children and young people have equitable access to learning opportunities.

Article

Cosmopolitanism is an ancient idea with a wide theoretical and critical history. Scholars across the humanities and social sciences have been examining the meaning and trajectories of this concept, showing how it spotlights ways in which people can move beyond mutual understanding and cooperation. However, cosmopolitanism does not have to refer to a transcendental ideal but rather to the material and real condition of global interdependencies. Cosmopolitanism has been connected to the philosophical concept of “becoming-world,” which develops this idea in the context of plural and ecological societies. Under this approach, cosmopolitanism turns into cosmo-politics, which fuses notions of educational and cultural creativity. From the philosophy of education and artistic education in particular, cosmopolitics seeks to outline the advances of new creative educational theories, which center on globalization, hospitality ethics, politics of inclusion, and the ecological connection between human beings and ecosystems; overall, this concept reveals the possibilities for moral, political, and social growth in the encounter with the other (human and natural). Cosmopolitics is, therefore, associated with the idea of educating with creativity, even proposing the elaboration of new pedagogical methods. Here, cosmopolitics has arisen as a crucial artistic educational orientation toward reimagining, appreciating, and learning from our common world.