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Critical Race Theory and STEM Education  

Terrell R. Morton

Critical race theory (CRT) is a framework that attends to the prevalence, permanence, and impact of racism embedded within and manifested through the policies, practices, norms, and expectations of U.S. social institutions and how those concepts have differentially impacted the lived experiences of Black and Brown individuals. CRT bore out of the legal studies—complemented by philosophical and sociological fields—and has since been applied to a multitude of disciplines including education. Composed of several tenets or principles, CRT approaches to research, scholarship, and praxis take a structural, systematic, or systemic perspective rather than an individual or isolated perspective. CRT provides scholars and practitioners the ability to acknowledge and challenge structural racism and intersectional forms of oppression as foundational to the perceived and experienced inequities outlined by various constituents. In providing such a perspective, CRT facilitates the opportunity for future ideologies that promote radical and transformative change to systems and structures that perpetuate racial and intersectional-based oppression. STEM education—representing the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from inter- and intradisciplinary perspectives—constitutes the norms, ideologies, beliefs, and practices hallmarked by and within these fields, examined both separately as individual disciplines (e.g., science) and collectively (i.e., STEM). These concepts comprise what is noted as the culture of STEM. Scholarship on STEM education, broadly conceived, discusses the influence and impact of STEM culture across P–20+ education on access, engagement, teaching, and learning. These components are noted through examining student experiences; teachers’ (faculty) engagement, pedagogy, and practice; leadership and administration’s implementation of the aforementioned structures; and the creation and reinforcement of policies that regulate STEM culture. Critical race theoretical approaches to STEM education thus critique how the culture of STEM differentially addresses the needs and desires of various racially minoritized communities in and through STEM disciplines. These critiques are based on the fact that the power to disenfranchise individuals is facilitated by the culture of whiteness embedded within STEM culture, a perspective that is codified and protected by society to favor and privilege White people. CRT in STEM education research tackles the influence and impact of racism and intersectional oppression on racially minoritized individuals in and through STEM by revealing the manifestation and implications of racism and intersectional oppression on racially minoritized individuals’ STEM interactions. CRT in STEM also provides opportunities to reclaim and create space that more appropriately serves racially minoritized individuals through the use of counterstories that center the lived experience of said individuals at the crux of epistemological and ontological understandings, as well as the formation of policies, programs, and other actions. Such conceptions strive to challenge stakeholders within STEM to alter their individual and collective beliefs and perspectives of how and why race is a contending factor for access, engagement, and learning in STEM. These conceptions also strive to challenge stakeholders within STEM to reconfigure STEM structures to redress race-based inequity and oppression.

Article

Doubly Reflexive Ethnography and Collaborative Research  

Gunther Dietz and Laura Selene Mateos Cortés

Doubly reflexive ethnography is a collaborative research methodology developed in the social and educational sciences through a combination of classical ethnographic methods of participant observation and lifeworld-oriented interviewing, on the one hand, and participatory methods of co-interpreting, co-theorizing, and co-validating empirical research results together with the collaborating actors, on the other hand. Double reflexivity is defined here as the result of a dialogical, collaborative conversation between different actors involved in educational research processes, starting from the research design, problematization and delimitation, going on through a cyclical accompaniment via observations and interviews, and culminating in a dialogical, often collective data analysis, which leads to collaborative and diversified ways of assessing, validating, and evaluating research results. This doubly reflexive approach integrates and relates the researcher reflexivity with the reflexivity contributed by the collaborating actors, be they organizations or institutions active in an educational field. Doubly reflexive ethnography maintains close relations with the main features of ethnography and classical ethnographic methods; it has transited from originally and historically extractive ethnographic practices toward collaborative and participatory alternatives of research methodologies. The key semantic, pragmatic, and syntactic dimensions of doubly reflexive ethnography are identified and illustrated as those dimensions that allow for a spiral, cyclical research and collaboration process that includes visual, observational data; verbal, interview data; and textual, documentary data in an integrated system of collaborative-ethnographic methods. This system integrates and triangulates diverse sources of information, diverse degrees of data abstraction, and diverse degrees of researcher involvement, thus avoiding and overcoming conventional dichotomies of quantitative versus qualitative research and of unilateral, extractive versus proactive, participatory strategies.

Article

“Globalization,” Coloniality, and Decolonial Love in STEM Education  

Miwa A. Takeuchi and Ananda Marin

From the era of European empire to the global trades escalated after the World Wars, technological advancement, one of the key underlying conditions of globalization, has been closely linked with the production and reproduction of the colonizer/colonized. The rhetoric of modernity characterized by “salvation,” “rationality,” “development,” and nature-society or nature-culture divides underlies dominant perspectives on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education that have historically positioned economic development and national security as its core values. Such rhetoric inevitably and implicitly generates the logic of oppression and exploitation. Against the backdrop of nationalist and militaristic discourse representing modernity or coloniality, counter-voices have also arisen to envision a future of STEM education that is more humane and socioecologically just. Such bodies of critiques have interrogated interlocking colonial domains that shape the realm of STEM education: (a) settler colonialism, (b) paternalism, genderism, and coloniality, and (c) militarism and aggression and violence against the geopolitical Other. Our ways of knowing and being with STEM disciplines have been inexorably changed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which powerfully showed us how we live in the global chain of contagion. What kinds of portrayal can we depict if we dismantle colonial imaginaries of STEM education and instead center decolonial love—love that resists the nature-culture or nature-society divide, love to know our responsibilities and enact them in ways that give back, love that does not neglect historical oppression and violence yet carries us through? STEM education that posits decolonial love at its core will be inevitably and critically transdisciplinary, expanding the epistemological and ontological boundaries to embrace those who had been colonized and disciplined through racialized, gendered, and classist disciplinary practices of STEM.

Article

Theories of Tolerance in Education  

Ben Bindewald

Scholars in diverse democratic societies have theorized tolerance in various ways. Classical liberal tolerance can best be understood as non-interference with forms of behavior or expression one finds objectionable. It has been criticized for being too permissive of hate speech and not demanding enough as a theoretical guide to civic education. Alternatively, robust respect is characterized by open-mindedness and respect for diversity. Critics have suggested that it is too relativistic and overly ambitious as a guide to civic education. Discriminating (in)tolerance suggests that tolerance should only be extended to individuals and groups who support the advancement of egalitarian politics and the interests of historically marginalized groups. It has been criticized for being overly authoritarian and dogmatic. Mutuality emphasizes reciprocity and sustained engagement across difference. Critics argue that it is not revolutionary enough to address past injustices and persistent inequality.

Article

Identity and Agency in Informal Science Education Through the Lens of Equity and Social Justice  

Jrène Rahm

Learning and becoming are understood as emergent from participation in practices at the intersection of formal and informal science education. What learners value, engage in, and transform is understood as entangled with who they have been, think they are, and yet aim to become, calling for an intersectional lens to any analysis of learning and identity in science. Who one is and can become in science, given recognition by others as a science person, is political and a product of intersecting patterns of racism and sexism, to name two key dimensions, which are not additive but instead form a symbiotic relationship. Intersectionality foregrounds the structural, political, and representational of an oppressive system at work and is a lens essential to an equity- and social justice–driven conceptualization of science education at the intersection of formal and informal educational venues. Critical transdisciplinarity facilitates the unpacking of what science is and what kind of science a science person engages in, and it can move studies beyond paralyzing ideologies and meritocracies that undermine full participation in science by youth of color, for instance. Engagement with intersectionality, critical transdisciplinarity, and the political can make rightful presence a shared goal to work toward among science educators and researchers, a much-needed commitment in the informal science education field. Community-based educational spaces (CBES) challenge deficit discourses of youth and, instead, aim to build on youths’ funds of knowledge and identities through empowering practices. Identity work is approached through a grounding in practice theory, which calls for a focus on the figuring of worlds, lives, and identities. Becoming somebody in science is presented as a creative act by youth, who challenge what science is and who can become somebody in science. Actions by youth can make evident desirable identities that result in the “thickening” of their affinities with science, a process also charged by emotions. That is, intersectionality can be experienced as emotionally taxing, while agency and transformation by youth may result in positive emotions. A mobile view of learning and identity in science, captured by the notion of wayfinding, calls to attention hybridity, intersectionality, and critical transdisciplinarity. That grounding can move the study of learning and becoming in science beyond a binary vision of formal and informal science education while also making it political. A deeper commitment and engagement with social justice work in studies of learning and identity in CBES, a process well captured by the notion of rightful presence, could become a common goal to work toward in the vast field of science education, both formal and informal.

Article

Inclusive Intercultural Education in Multicultural Societies  

Rocío Cárdenas-Rodríguez and Teresa Terrón-Caro

Cultural diversity is a characteristic of plural societies, and the way that each society approaches that diversity determines whether or not the societies evolve or stagnate, whether cultural groups remain segregated or integrate, and whether social inequalities grow or if communities affirm the value of diversity and promote equality. For this reason, it is important to analyze the cultural diversity management system that guides our interventions because the socioeducational methods and practices designed for any given plural context depends on them. Research refers to the assimilationist, multicultural, and intercultural cultural diversity management models, and the conclusion appears to be that the intercultural model is the framework that [best] accounts for an integrated and inclusive society. Interculturalism requires the establishment of policies that champion equity, in order to achieve equality at the legal and social levels, and that promote genuine equality of opportunity. At the same time, it demands pedagogical practices based in civic education. An intercultural education should help us learn to live together and should educate people, to grow their knowledge, understanding, and respect for cultural diversity. Intercultural education is a reflective, socioeducational practice focused on social and cultural transformation through equal rights, equity, and positive interaction between different cultures. Intercultural education is characterized by an acknowledgment of cultural diversity, a positive valuation of egalitarian relations, equal educational opportunities for all, and moving beyond racism and discrimination. Fundamentally, intercultural education can be understood as an educational model that champions cultural diversity and the advantages it offers within an education context, such as the values of human rights and equality, and a rejection of cultural discrimination.

Article

Patterns, Trends, Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Internationalization of Chinese Higher Education  

Xue Lan Rong and Shuguang Wang

A theoretical model of positioned, positioning, and repositioning is used to conceptualize the evolving process of the internationalization of Chinese higher education and answer the following three questions: (a) How have the quantitative trends of Chinese students studying abroad and international students studying in China changed over the past 30 years? (b) What are the differences between Chinese students studying abroad and international students studying in China in recent years, in terms of the host and sending countries, the level of study, and the fields of study, and what do the differences mean when compared to those in other countries? (c) What are the challenges, opportunities, and strategies in the years to come? To answer the first question, a compilation of descriptive quantitative data is used from numerous large national and international data sources, which reports a long-term upward trend (with some fluctuations) of inbound international students in China and outbound Chinese international students around the world over the past 30 years. To answer the second question, using general international mobile student profiles for context, data were compared of inbound international students in China and the United States in terms of both level of study and field of study. These revealed imbalanced patterns: Chinese outbound students are more likely to be in certain fields (e.g., STEM, business) and at graduate levels, but international students in China are more likely to be undergraduate students and non-degreed students in the humanities and language studies. Based on the data for the first two questions, the issues are synthesized in order to present the opportunities and challenges regarding the continuation of China’s internationalization of its higher education, especially with respect to inbound international students. In terms of issues and opportunities, economic and other impacts (such as political, financial, and pandemic related) are highlighted and call China’s attention to maintaining and expanding the strengths of its higher education system while considering competition from neighboring countries. Six major challenges are identified in this area, and suggestions are provided.

Article

Special Education and Gender in the United States  

Nickie Coomer and Chelsea Stinson

Historically, Western hegemonic order has been established through cultivating and legitimating social categories of difference. Schools, among other institutions, reinforce difference through marking ability, race, and gender to signify which bodies are productive, deficient, or dangerous and therefore in need of control. This process of differentiation and control is evident in the social, political, and education contexts of disabled youth whose race, gender, and sexuality are read, controlled, and resisted through policy and pedagogy. Through the processes of hypervisiblity, pathologization, and underserving of Black girls in schools, and especially within special education, this animates the nexus of gender, race, and disability. Parallels are drawn to paradigms of the female body and femininity, where difference is constructed as inferior to the normative male body. Similarly, special education policy, practice, and literature conceptualize disability as subtractive difference, wherein what is considered a “deficit” relies on a subtractive interpretation of a normative body or a normative way of being. In this regard, disability, gender—and, crucially, race—are often thought of as a negative departure from a normalized embodiment. In special education, such normalized, essentialist approaches to gender, race, and disability contribute to the disproportionate overidentification of some social identities and the underidentification of others, most often along raced and gendered lines. Importantly, disabling processes are institutionalized in education through the mechanism of special education, which not only serves as an instructional and academic response to a student’s disability but also acts as an institutional process that determines a student as disabled. The determination of a student having a disability is mediated through law, policy, and interpersonal interaction between school professionals and parents and caregivers. Disproportionate identification has been the focus of research, and studies show that overidentification occurs most often in disability categories that are considered “subjective”: for instance, specific learning disabilities and emotional disturbances. Such identification has an impact on students’ learning; opportunities to interact with their peers in general education settings; access to high quality, challenging curriculum; and opportunities to engage critical thinking in educational activities that go beyond direct instruction. Disabling processes in schools related to the intersection of disability, gender, and race, in particular, are mediated by the local, cultural interactions of school personnel and are evident in the ways in which Black girls, in particular, are disabled in school.

Article

A Multi-Level Model of Moral Functioning: Integrating Socio-Bio-evolutionary Science, Socio-Constructionism, and Constructivist-Developmental Theory  

Silvia Diazgranados Ferráns and Robert L. Selman

Tensions chronically exist in the research literature among bio-evolutionary scientists, constructivist-developmental psychologists, and socio-constructionist scholars about how to describe, understand, and predict our moral functioning. An analysis of the assumptions of each of these theoretical paradigms, the disciplinary fields that inform their conceptual models, and the empirical evidence they use to sustain their claims reveals the tensions that exist, as different communities of scholars assign different roles to nature and nurture, reason and intuition, and to the private minds of individuals and the social intelligibilities available to them in a given time and place of history. Using simple multilevel structures, it is possible to see that the divisions that exist within these scientific communities can be conceptualized in terms of their use of different levels of analysis, as they each focus on different populations and employ different underlying units of time and space. Bio-evolutionary scientists study humans as species, using slow-paced time units of analysis such as millennia, and their studies focus on the epigenetic dimensions of our moral sense, documenting inter-species variance in moral functioning. Socio-constructionists study humans as members of groups, using moderately paced time units of analysis such as decades and centuries, and their studies focus on cultural variations in what different groups of people consider to be good or bad, according to the social structures and intelligibilities that are available to them in a given time and place of history. Constructivist-developmental psychologists study humans as individuals, using fast-paced time units of analysis such as months and years, and their studies focus on the maturational dimension of our moral sense, documenting within- and between-individuals variation throughout their lifetime. Unfortunately, by focusing on different populations and time units, these communities of scholars produce research findings that highlight certain aspects of our moral functioning while downplaying others. Interestingly, complex multilevel structures can illustrate how different levels of analysis are nested within each other and can demonstrate how different scientific endeavors have been striving to account for different sources of variability in our moral functioning. The use of complex multilevel structures can also allow us to understand our moral functioning from a dynamic, complex, multilevel theoretical perspective, and as the product of (a) genetic variations that occur between and within species, (b) variations in the social structures, discourses, and intelligibilities that are available in the culture and regulate what social groups consider good and bad at different places and times of history, and (c) variations in the personal experiences and opportunities of interaction that individuals have in different environments throughout their lifetime. Researchers need to clarify the epigenetic, historical, and developmental rules of our moral functioning, and the ways in which different dimensions interact with each other.

Article

Cultural Well-Being in Classroom Communities in Australia  

Sherridan Emery

Well-being is an increasingly important topic of schooling policy and research internationally. While the concept of well-being is understood in various ways, little attention has been given to its cultural aspects. The convergence between culture, well-being, and learning is being realized, and the concept of cultural well-being presents new insights relevant to ongoing school reform efforts. Cultural well-being is a nascent concept in education considered to relate to students’ sense of connection to school, people, places, and cultures. A typology of cultural well-being produced from an Australian study of teachers’ perceptions depicts three prominent interpretations of culture: (a) school culture, (b) processes of recognition, and (c) cultural participation and production. The typology of cultural well-being enables the interrogation of complex power relations, revealing some of the ways that schools continue to reproduce social and cultural inequalities. The application of a typology of cultural well-being illustrates the interplay between school culture, recognition, and cultural participation and can support international initiatives to reform schooling with a greater emphasis on the well-being of all students, potentially addressing and reducing inequalities.