Martinette V. Horner, Derrick D. Jordan, and Kathleen M. Brown
Academic optimism was developed in 2006 as a latent concept that provides insight into the improvement of student outcomes especially for those who, because of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other demographics, have historically been labeled as underperforming. The three main components of academic optimism (academic emphasis, collective emphasis, and faculty trust) underscore the reality that the teachers, parents, and students all play a critical role in the education arena when it comes to ensuring that students fully grow and stretch to the fullest extent possible. High academic optimism in a school suggests that academic achievement is valued and supported; the faculty has the capacity to help students achieve; and students and parents can be trusted as partners of the school for student achievement. Each of these can be controlled by the actions and decisions of school leaders and faculty so that schools can overcome the effects of poverty on student achievement.
In South Africa, new legislation and policies on inclusive education in the post-apartheid era since 1994 have placed a strong emphasis on equity, equality, and human rights, as defined in the South African Constitution. As a result, a White Paper on building an inclusive education and training system was published in 2001. It acknowledges the failure of the education system to respond to the barriers to learning and development experienced by a substantial number of learners, including diverse learning needs caused by, for example, language, socioeconomic, or gender issues as well as disabilities. This policy document describes inclusive education as being based on the ideals of equity and equality and as a result recognizing and respecting learner and learning diversity within mainstream schools. As stated in the policy, in practice this means identifying and removing barriers in the education system to ensure that the full range of diverse learning needs are met in mainstream classrooms as well as providing support to learners and teachers in addressing barriers to learning and development.
Research studies on the implementation of inclusive education in South Africa, however, are finding that despite the development of a wide range of implementation guidelines since 2007, complex interrelated issues continue to complicate the development of successful inclusive schools. These issues include a continued divergence of views of inclusive education with a continuing strong belief in special education and separate educational settings by most teachers, therefore leading to a resultant lack of clarity regarding the implementation of inclusive education at the level of local practice in schools and classrooms. These differences in the understanding of inclusive education and its enactment in diverse school contexts also bring the question of power and agency into South African debates about inclusive education: who should decide which version of inclusive education should be the goal of the development of inclusive education in a specific school district or a specific school. Furthermore, contextual issues including the lack of financial and human resources, for example effectively trained teachers, effectively functioning district educational support teams for schools in specific school districts, lack of textbooks, and overcrowded classrooms, play a dominant role in the development of effective inclusive schools.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Carol A. Mullen
Commitment to mentorship, while necessary to benefit mentoring parties, is insufficient to work with the complexities of contemporary educational settings, especially in pursuit of engagement and learning for all. Mentoring that makes a profound difference for all participants, worldwide, is oriented at the outset to call into question such organizational constraints as hegemony, hierarchy, and culture. Traditional versus alternative approaches to mentoring is a critical binary that can be differentiated in the abstract. However, context and culture are existing organizational realities for which mentoring forms, enactments, and activities (such as mentoring circles) either perpetuate the status quo or produce significant change. Thus, alternative mentoring approaches work within both the traditional view of mentoring and any alternative to it.
Randall Clemens and Autumn Tooms Cyprès
Words have power: power to unite, to inspire, to divide, to harm. Politicians have long used persuasive language and rhetoric to mobilize constituents and to influence policy discussions. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Republican Party nominee Donald Trump, capitalizing on his reputation for blunt and brash comments, created a political brand based on unedited statements and sweeping promises. He vowed to “Make America Great Again.” It stirred, galvanized, and emboldened supporters. For many, however, the candidate’s divisive discourse invoked legacies of marginalization and exclusion. Across educational settings, Trump’s language reverberated. Campaign promises left many unsure about the future of immigrants in the United States. After the election, anti-immigrant discourse continued and hate crimes spiked. The events required educational leaders to respond to support and empower immigrant students. They highlighted the need for leaders to create communities that maintain democratic ideals and ensure inclusivity and belonging for all stakeholders.
The discourse on identity of the researcher is largely centered on epistemological concerns of representation, power, and positionality in the anthropological realm. In educational research, in the context of a complex field such as school, this has raised pertinent questions about the dynamic interplay of forces when researchers are in the field, including the problems with the traditional categories of insider and outsider. A vast range of scholarly works on ethnographic methodology, Muslim identity in South Asia, feminist research, and ethnographies on schools point out that the dichotomy of insider and outsider is insufficient in engaging with the nuances of field and representation. While nativity obscures the process of identity negotiation and legitimacy, tropes of representation can hardly ever be simplified through a shared ethnic, gendered, religious, and class background in anthropological practice. The need is to expand the boundaries of reflexivity in educational research, thereby treading beyond the polarities of insider and outsider and take into account the fluidity in between the two. In negotiating with identities and boundaries, researchers often end up occupying an in-between threshold space in the field. It is by taking into account flexibility and malleability of identities that ethnographers can deliberate on the efficacy of piercing intimate relationships in fields such as schools and other educational institutions. For ethnographers unraveling the complexities of educational processes, the creation of a fresh vantage point can therefore help make meaning of the everyday life from the lens of participants.
Cheryl E. Matias, Naomi W. Nishi, and Geneva L. Sarcedo
A litany of literature exists on teacher preparation programs, known as teacher education, and whiteness, which is the historical, systematic, and structural processes that maintain the race-based superiority of white people over people of color. The theoretical frameworks of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) are used to explore whiteness and teacher education separately; whiteness within teacher education; the impact of teacher education and whiteness on white educators, educators of Color, and their students; and cautions and recommendations for teacher education and whiteness.
Although teacher education and whiteness are situated within the current US sociopolitical context, the historical colonial contexts of other countries may find parallel examples of whiteness. Within this context, the historical purposes behind teacher education and the need for quality teachers in an increasingly diverse student population are identified using transdisciplinary approaches in CRT and CWS to define and describe operations of whiteness in teacher education. Particularly, race education scholars entertain the psychoanalytic, philosophical, and sociological ruminations of race, racism, and white supremacy in society and education to understand more fully how whiteness operates within teacher education. For example, an analysis of psychological attachments found in racial identities, particularly between whiteness and Blackness, helps to fully comprehend racial dynamics between teachers, who are overwhelmingly racially identified as white, and students, who are predominantly racially identified as of Color.
Whiteness in teacher education, left intact, ultimately affects K-12 schooling and students, particularly students of Color, in ways that recycle institutionalized white supremacy in schooling practices. Acknowledging how reinforcing hegemonic whiteness in teacher education ultimately reifies institutional white supremacy in education altogether; implications and cautions as well as recommendations are offered to debunk the hegemonic whiteness that inoculates teacher education.
Note: To symbolically reverse the racial hierarchy in our research, the authors opt to use lowercase lettering for white and whiteness, and to capitalize “people of Color” to recognize it as a proper noun along with Black and Brown.
David Litz and Rida Blaik-Hourani
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
One of the most widely discussed and utilized notions that has risen to the forefront of educational administration is the concept of transformational leadership. Transformational leadership was initially conceived as a process whereby leaders strategically transform the system or organization to a higher level by increasing the achievement and motivation of their followers. Early theorists would also argue that transformational leadership and change are inexorably intertwined, which in turn underscored the importance of a leader’s ability to positively transform the attitudes, norms, institutions, behaviors, and actions that structure our daily lives. Later writers and researchers would gradually extend and develop the theory and argue that the ultimate goal of transformational leadership is to transform people, as well as organizations.
While early work on transformational leadership concentrated on politics, business, and the armed services, the research emphasized the value of “followers” as a distinguishing factor present in the transformational leadership model. This distinction is likely what attracted scholars to begin applying its tenets to modern educational contexts, which are typically characterized by significant pressures to implement widespread reforms and change. In this regard, transformational leadership is often viewed as well suited to education as it empowers followers (i.e., instructors) and provides them with a sense of hope, optimism, and energy as it defines the vision of productivity as they accomplish goals. Additionally, transformational leaders work toward influencing shared beliefs and values to create a comprehensive level of change and innovation, and aim to nurture a school culture that is oriented toward a learning ethos, whereby such leaders seek to expand the capacities of each employee, enhance his or her way of thinking, and promote individual ambition. In this way, learning and growth becomes a shared responsibility.
Heather Rintoul and Anthony H. Normore
Values-based leadership is, at its core, decisional leadership. Traditionally, educational leadership has tended to fall into a range of rationality dealing with consequences and consensus. This “do things right” approach has come under intense scrutiny by decision makers searching for more ethically justifiable responses through a new vision of education and schooling, a “do the right thing” style of decision making. Decisions based in principle—that is, morals and ethics—are commonly deemed as being authentic, fulfilling, and more justifiable than decisions based on rationality and preference. Embedded in this new moral urgency lies an inherent tension in that “to do the right thing” routinely begs the question “the right thing for whom?” Differences have arisen in terms of what values-based leadership and inclusion means—whose values, who is included, how to address leadership for inclusive practices, thus rendering conceptualization and implementation of inclusive practice qualitatively different according to context. The achievement of all students must be viewed both as an economic and values-oriented imperative consistent with inclusive practices. The term, inclusion is socially constructed and can carry with it stigmatizing and exclusionary effects that ultimately result in perpetuating oppressive forces on already marginalized individuals.
Values-based leadership has an emphasis on school settings that are welcoming and affirming to all students, especially those most at risk for failure. Its underlying beliefs and assumptions guide practices and policies of inclusive practices and sound moral decisions. Moral decisions are made, not in isolation, but rather through a journey of interaction and association with others. Unfortunately, this interpersonal journey is often fraught with anxiety because everyone’s experience is sourced in a different worldview. Unravelling the intricacies of resolution possibilities has become increasingly complex because often there may be several equally appropriate responses to any dilemma; therefore, the decisional challenge becomes how to adjudicate between and among possibilities. Values-based leadership for inclusive practices concerns various marginalized groups including English-language learners, those who experience gender discrimination, those who are in the foster care system, and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered. The broader conceptualization of inclusive schools adds to extant discourses about students with exceptional needs and provides effective strategies that school leaders operating from a social justice framework can implement to create more inclusive school environments for all students.