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Education, Women, and the Politics of Curriculum  

Rubina Saigol

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article. For decades now, the discourse on women and education by states, governments, non-governmental organizations, and global development agencies has focused overwhelmingly on access. The excessive preoccupation with enrollment rates, dropout rates, and impediments and constraints on women’s access to education has led to a relative neglect of what access is and what kind of access is being provided. Is it benign, empowering, liberating, and emancipating? Or is it rather that the messages transmitted through schooling tend to serve ends other than women’s own agency and empowerment? The case for educating girls and women is often couched in an instrumental vocabulary centered on the idea that it is good for the state, nation, country, motherhood, family, community, economic growth, and development. Such utilitarian arguments overlook the idea that education is a basic human right, and the aim of women’s education should be to empower women themselves, for their own sake, instead of as a means to ends outside of themselves. The underlying assumption in instrumental and utilitarian arguments is that what is taught in schools—the curriculum—is neutral and objective and empowers all those who are exposed to it. There is little understanding, especially among policymakers and bureaucrats, that curriculum is not neutral or impartial; rather it is a highly contested, contradictory, and conflicted space with various social groups (religious, sectarian, nationalist, ethnic, racist, or other) attempting to gain the inclusion of their own knowledge as the only legitimate one. The old questions in education—whose knowledge is legitimate knowledge, and who decides which knowledge to include from a vast universe of available knowledge—is as relevant today as it was when first posited. In other words, what a society, community, or nation decides to transmit as “the truth” and what it prefers to exclude are highly political decisions steeped in conflicts over hegemony and power. One of the most dominant and hegemonic discourses, historically and in contemporary times, is patriarchy. The belief that men/masculinity and women/femininity are polar opposites, and that the former category is overall superior to the latter, which is subordinate to it, is a universal ideology that informs the discourses of the nation, state, family, development, and all the institutions of governments, states, and the global community. Patriarchal ideas, values, and practices enter into capitalist, neoliberal, nationalist, religious, and cultural narratives across the globe and adapt to the system in place. Feminism and Women’s Studies have unpacked patriarchal discourses by revealing masculine biases in the very construction, packaging, and distribution of knowledge. However, feminist knowledge is mostly ghettoized in Women’s Studies or Gender Studies Departments, without forming the essential core of the curriculum in all social, humanistic, and hard science disciplinary areas. Under pressure from human rights and women’s rights constituencies, some content may be added or deleted from the curricula and textbooks, but the dominant religious, nationalist, and neoliberal discourses remain devoid of the insights of feminism that have provided new ways of conceptualizing the world and transforming it into a place of greater justice and equality.

Article

Epistemology and Teacher Education  

Matthew Smith

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article. For teachers to effectively engage in given pedagogical practices, they need to have beliefs that support these approaches to teaching. These are not philosophical beliefs per se; rather, they are the individual understandings that teachers hold about the nature of knowledge and knowing, which underpin and guide their actions and which are referred to as personal epistemologies. A wide range of paradigms for understanding and studying personal epistemologies is evident in the research literature in this field, but these different perspective and approaches—while varied in outlook and conclusion—point to how important it is that initial teacher education courses allow for the development of sophisticated personal epistemologies through explicit teaching that enables students to think ontologically and epistemologically, and that teacher educators initiate and sustain reflective and discursive practices throughout their courses to promote the best possible outcomes for the children that student teachers will go on to teach in their subsequent careers.

Article

Home Schooling and Home Education  

Kalwant Bhopal and Martin Myers

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article. 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.

Article

Leadership Coaching  

Donald Wise

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article. Coaching for school leaders is becoming commonplace in the United States. The responsibilities of school leaders have changed dramatically since the early 21st century, and coaching is often seen as a viable and necessary support for those leaders. The advent of legislation, including the No Child Left Behind act in 2001 and more recently the introduction of the Common Core standards, has been instrumental in shifting school leadership from a primarily managerial perspective to that of instructional and transformational leadership. In such a rapidly changing environment, leadership coaching holds promise for school leaders faced with not only operational and personnel management but also leading dynamic change processes in the arenas of curriculum and instruction. Leadership coaching usually involves coaching from a superior within the school district or from an external public or private organization. Successful leadership coaching takes into account the characteristics of the leader and also the context in which the coaching takes place.

Article

Mixed Methods Approaches and Qualitative Methodology for Higher Education Policy Research  

Nidhi S. Sabharwal and C. M. Malish

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article. The complex nature of the higher education system in India demands a nuanced understanding of its functions, outcomes, and impact on various stakeholders, the economy, and society. Policy research aims to develop such an understanding through generating evidence-based perspectives for higher education planning and development in national contexts. Equity is one of the major domains of inquiry in higher education, and institutionalizing equity in the higher education process and its outcomes is therefore a major concern in policy discourse. A multi-sited study confirms that integrating quantitative and qualitative methods yields vital insights about the nature and forms of social exclusion and discrimination on campuses as well as about how institutional policies, structure, and practices contribute to the shaping of the lived experiences of students from diverse backgrounds. While a quantitative approach helps to assess the magnitude of the prevailing practice of discrimination and social exclusion on university campuses in an era of massification and increasing student diversity, a qualitative approach facilitates the understanding of how and why discriminatory practices continue to prevail on campuses. These insights are critical in developing an equity perspective in national and subnational contexts and formulating policies, strategies, and practices for institutionalizing equity in higher education. The strength of the qualitative approach, including focused group discussions, has the capacity to generate evidence on collective experience and shared values, assumptions, and perceptions of the student body sharing common social belonging and life chances. It helps to unveil group-specific issues in a comparative framework. Because interviews with teachers and institutional leaders were conducted alongside focused group discussions with students, the contradictions and similarities of perceptions on each issue could be taken forward for further probing and cross checking. It was actually helpful to unravel multilayered narratives on diversity and discrimination in higher education contexts. Focused group discussion, for example, helped to bring out the voices of the “invisibles,” or those who are not part of the mainstream. The contradiction observed between dominant narratives and counterculture further contributed to a nuanced understanding of the issues of diversity and discrimination. Issues like gender stereotyping and micro-aggression against marginalized social groups hitherto unknown to dominant discourse could not have been adequately captured with survey methods alone. Therefore, field work as a process not only generates experiential evidence but also serves a political purpose by giving voice to the silenced or to those student groups who remain on the margins of campus life. It may be argued that qualitative and quantitative approaches are complementary rather than conflicting approaches, and the limitations of methodological monism in understanding social phenomena can be triumphed over by integrating quantitative and qualitative methods. Undoubtedly, there are challenges in integrating insights from data collected through quantitative and qualitative methods, and the overall research process is labor intensive and rigorous. One may, however, conclude that the critical insights developed through a mixed methodology are robust. While making a significant contribution to the body of knowledge on the system of higher education, a mixed methodology approach also makes a substantial contribution to developing new perspectives in policy discourses and directing transformations in the system to institutionalize equity.

Article

Pacific Research Methodologies  

Sereana Naepi

Pacific research methodologies refer to Indigenous research that is conducted from the ontological and epistemological standpoint of Pacific peoples. Pacific research methodologies are an act of decolonial resistance that recognizes the legitimacy of Pacific ontologies and epistemologies, enabling research that is truly reflective of Pacific peoples. They are a response to colonial research patterns that have framed and stereotyped Pacific peoples in problematic ways. Pacific research methodologies are a resurgence practice that empowers Pacific people to define and critique the Pacific from a Pacific viewpoint. They include but are not limited to vanua, kakala, talanoa, ula, and fa’afaletui. They can be regionally specific, such as the vanua or kakala, and they can also be pan-Pacific and refer to shared values, such as respect, reciprocity, communal relationships, collective responsibility, gerontocracy, humility, love and charity, service, and spirituality. Pacific duality means that Pacific research methodologies can be both pan-Pacific and regional. Pacific research methodologies continue to be developed as more Pacific people enter the research space.

Article

Transnational Curriculum Formation and Change  

Noel Gough

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article. Although much curriculum work continues to take place within national borders (often informed by governmental policies and priorities), accelerating processes of economic and cultural globalization, together with an increase in various types of cross-border movements of people, resources, ideas, and images, are blurring nation-state boundaries and destabilizing national authority in curriculum decision-making. Typically, transnational work is understood as acting across national borders with a view to optimizing the interrelationships between local, national, regional, and global spheres of curriculum formation and change. This is distinguished from international collaboration (actions taken by conventional nation-states) and supranational work, which includes initiatives and interventions by broader global institutions and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, UNESCO, OECD, and so on. The involvement of supranational institutions such as the World Bank and IMF has tended to support curriculum policies derived from neoliberal economic perspectives, which focus on the measurable production of human capital. Transnational curriculum work encourages critical examination of the impact of globalization in relation to national and international debates on such matters as human rights; social justice; democratization; national, ethnic, and religious identities; issues of gender and racial justice; the concerns of indigenous peoples; and poverty and social exclusion. Transnational curriculum work is also a response to the discourses of standardization and homogenization of curriculum thinking that characterize modern nation-states.

Article

Trends and Developments in Higher Education in the Asia-Pacific Region  

John N. Hawkins

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article. The demographic, historical, cultural, and political-economic complexity of the vast Asia Pacific Region poses a great challenge to making sense of the region’s higher education (HE) trends. Yet, several of these trends are indeed enduring and comparable. The interplay of these trends and developments continually shape the architecture of higher education in the region. A sampling of these trends focuses on one of the basic frames of higher education, namely that of increasing access, equity, and capacity. This, in turn, has led to the tension between massification on the one hand, and issues of quality assurance on the other. While national development is often the primary goal of tertiary education, regionalism has increasingly challenged these more parochial concerns. Within the region, student and faculty mobility, migration, and internationalization have emerged with greater force within the sometimes confusing context of globalization. At the upper end of the HE spectrum, the pressure of seeking to achieve excellence in research and innovation has resulted in another predicament, leading to what might be called an accelerated academy. These forces and factors, among others, are influencing the pathway of HE in the Asia Pacific region as we move into the 21st century.

Article

World-Systems Theorizing  

Thomas Griffiths

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article. World-systems theorizing has its roots in dependency theorizing and the critique of modernization theory, rejecting its claimed linear process of economic development for all nation-states. A founding premise of this work, established well before the advent of globalization studies, has been the need to take the world-system as the primary unit of analysis for understanding social reality and social change. As an approach for understanding systems of mass education, world-systems theorizing has taken on two broad trajectories. One of these, world-culture theory or neo-institutional analysis, has centered on identifying examples of global convergence at the level of education policy, explaining these in terms of a world culture of education that has spread across nation-states through their participation in international agencies and organizations. An alternative approach, world-systems analysis, takes the historical development and operation of the capitalist world-economy, across core, semi-peripheral, and peripheral zones of the world-economy, as the starting point for understanding the nature and function of mass education systems. This work includes the particular construction of knowledge structures and subject disciplines, and their function within the operation of the capitalist world-system. Where world-culture theory downplays the causal power of economic structures, world-systems analysis highlights the interaction between economics and an accompanying world cultural framework under historical capitalism, whose core features can account for the nature and purpose of education. Educational applications of contemporary world-systems analysis extend to work within the broader field of critical education to transform society. Specifically, these applications examine the potential for systems of mass education to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to understand existing social reality, to imagine more equal, just, democratic, and peaceful, alternative world-systems, and to take action toward their realization.