Looking back at the so-called Arab Spring, one sees people across these countries where the uprisings took place (e.g., Libya) still enduring political repression and change, a growth in threats of terror, and conflicts between tribes and militias, all of which have led to constant violence and a struggle for power. Events in Libya in 2019 suggest that there is an urgent need for education about democracy—a culture of creating a positive environment among people, increasing their awareness of their community, and helping them make decisions and achieve their goals. The qualities a democratic education set out to develop such a positive environment, and undoubtedly schools should be the place where all of this should begin. However, the supreme leader of Libya (Al-Qaddafi) used education in mainstream schools as a propaganda tool for his dictatorship; perhaps this is why the role of schools in Libya has been far removed from cultivating the practices necessary to maintain democratic values. Hence, the idea of democracy was not fostered from within its mainstream school system. A strong need exists to move away from schools that reproduce authoritarianism and toward schools that consciously encourage the notions of democratic skills, values, and behaviors within the classroom and the school as a whole. At present, mainstream schools in Libya are still predominantly organized along authoritarian, hierarchical, and bureaucratic lines; consequently, they continue teaching obedience and submission rather than encouraging freedom of thought and responsibility. The traditional methods of teaching, which focus on rote learning to pass exams instead of fostering creative and independent thinking, are still heavily used. Thus, teachers have a moral responsibility to use education to advocate for democracy, empowering students to learn about democratic values and prepare them to participate in democracy and become better citizens.
Liliana Maggioni and Emily Fox
At first glance, learning in history might be characterized as committing to memory sanctioned stories about the past. Yet a deeper consideration of this process opens up several questions about the specific features that make the generation of shared knowledge about the past possible and meaningful. Some of these questions regard the very object of such learning: What makes specific aspects of the past historically significant? What relations among people, events, and phenomena are especially salient in fostering understanding of the past? Another set of questions regards the affective and cognitive traits and abilities that characterize a successful learner in history. Researchers from different countries have worked at the intersection between history, history education, and educational psychology, and have investigated how experts and novices address historical questions on the basis of sources provided to them, identifying certain differences in their strategy use, their ability to contextualize information gleaned from the sources, their use of prior knowledge, and their ideas about the nature of historical knowledge and historical evidence. Researchers have also studied the influence that learners’ epistemic beliefs, school curricula, pedagogical practices, testing, and classroom discourse may have on student learning in history. By their variety, these studies have illustrated the complex nature of learning in history and evidenced several tensions among educational goals and between these goals and educational practices in the 21st century.
Jane Jones and Viv Ellis
Development is a keyword in the vocabulary of teacher education research. Keywords are high-frequency words and phrases that while bringing people together in conversation are nonetheless sites of significant contestation in the field. At its most basic level, in the phrase “teacher development,” development can refer either to the development of the teacher (personal-professional formation) or to the development of the practice (teaching). Adopting descriptive categories from literacy research to delineate “simple” and “complex” views on the underlying questions of development, it becomes clear that, within such a dichotomous construction, “simple” approaches are insufficient either to describe or to plan for becoming a teacher and experiencing growth in professional practice. Underpinning these “simple” and “complex” views in the research on teacher education, divergent perspectives on formation (e.g., the “natural born teacher” vs. becoming through struggling with an identity) and learning (e.g., high-intensity training in “moves” vs. complex trajectories of participation in social practices and the growth of critical reflexivity). Thus, in the research literature, it is possible to discern critical-humanistic and also techno-rationalist clusters of meaning: optimistic yet expansive understandings of learning and change alongside well-intentioned oversimplifications of inherently contingent and uncertain situations. Navigating these clusters is consequential for how the work of teaching and of educating teachers can be understood. Indeed, the vocabulary of teacher education research needs to be examined much more closely so that, by interrogating keywords such as development, new spaces for a more critical deliberation of becoming a teacher and for more transformative practices of both teaching and teacher education can be stimulated.