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Curriculum Ideologies  

Christopher B. Crowley

The study of the curriculum and educational knowledge is a study of ideology. The curriculum is never neutral. It always reflects or embodies ideological positions. Ideologies present within the curriculum are negotiated and formulated through multilayered processes of strategic compromise, assent, and resistance. And as such, the curriculum ideologies become operationalized in both overt and hidden means—constructing subjects and objects of knowledge in active as well as passive ways. Teaching is always a political act, and discussions and debates over curriculum ideologies have a long history within the field of curriculum studies. In terms of its function related to the organization and valuing of knowledge, it remains important to recognize not only the contested nature of the curriculum but also how such contestations have ideological dimensions in the framing of the curriculum. Curriculum ideologies manifest in terms of what might be thought of as values, visions of the future, and venues or forms. This is to say, the curriculum is imbued with processes for valuing assumed choices related to its design, development, and implementation. These choices draw from ideologically based assumptions about the curriculum’s basis in political, economic, historical, sociocultural, psychological, and other realities—whether they be discursive or material in effect. Additionally, these curriculum choices also pertain to the means by which the curriculum achieves these goals or objectives through the formulation of designed experiences, activities, or other forms of learning opportunities. The curriculum—in certain regards as finding principle in the conveying of knowledge through a system of organization related to an outset purpose—has, as a central component to some degree, a vision of a future. The curriculum is something simultaneously constructed and enacted in the present, with often the expressed purpose of having implications and ramifications for the future. The curriculum’s role and purpose in constructing both tested and untested or imagined feasibilities again has to do with some type of vision of learning inflected by ideology. This may even take the form of envisioning a future that is actually a vision of the past in some form, or perhaps a returning to a remembered time that may have existed for some but not others, or by extension a similarly romanticized remembering of a mythic past, for instance. Ultimately, the curriculum, whether translated into practice or in being developed conceptually, is in all likelihood never exclusively one of these, but instead is in all probability an amalgamation of such to differing degrees wherein a multitude of possibilities and combinations exist. Among the key questions of curriculum studies that remain central in terms of both analyzing and theorizing the curriculum are: Whose knowledge counts and what is worthwhile? These questions help to raise to a level of concern the ideological underpinnings of all curricula in ways that through sustained critical dialog might work to collectively build a more sustainably just and equitable world.

Article

Ethical Issues in Higher Education Pedagogy  

Viviana Mancovsky

This article proposes thinking of a higher education pedagogy called into question by ethics. In particular, the focus is on two significant moments in the life of a university student: the decision to begin an undergraduate course of studies and the decision to continue and/or resume graduate studies, specifically, doctoral training. To this end, the specificity of pedagogy is defined as an “exercise of reflection” and as “accompaniment,” and on the basis of this conception, it is called into question by ethics. Several authors shed light on some ethical matters from the perspective of education philosophy in order to explore and challenge teaching practices, with a view to welcoming and hosting students in their diversity, that is, accepting “otherness.” This idea is summarized in the figure of a “host professor” capable of building a pedagogical relationship that will accompany the students’ learning processes. The university teaching practice is problematized by posing questions rather than providing answers or closed statements that prescribe an “ought to be” model of professor. Thus, these open questions are intended to encourage university professors to reflect on how to improve their pedagogical relationship called into question by ethics from a contemporary perspective.

Article

Free Speech, Civility, and Censorship in Education  

Josh Corngold

Besides being protected by the First Amendment, the right of students and faculty to express different ideas and opinions—even discomfiting ideas and opinions—is central to the academic mission of schools, colleges, and universities. Two familiar arguments articulated by John Stuart Mill underscore this point: First, the dynamic clash of contrary ideas offers the best prospect we have of arriving at the “whole truth” about any complex subject. Second, unless it is subject to periodic questioning and critique, any established and received bit of wisdom “will be held in the manner of a prejudice with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds.” These arguments notwithstanding, heated debates persist as to the proper bounds of free speech in educational institutions dedicated to open inquiry and the examination of multiple viewpoints. Two distinct positions provide us with a useful framework for analyzing many of these debates. The libertarian position rejects regulation of campus speech—except in extreme cases of speech that invade the rights of individuals or small specific groups of people—while instead championing a maximally free marketplace of ideas. The liberal democratic position, however, proposes that, in the interest of scholarly objectivity and rational autonomy, verbal interaction that denigrates or stigmatizes others on account of ascriptive characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation should be constrained in higher education. Adherents to the libertarian position oppose the implementation of campus hate speech codes on the grounds that such codes violate First Amendment principles and are not an effective bulwark against prejudice, discrimination, and inequality. Adherents to the liberal democratic position support narrowly tailored speech codes that formally sanction slurs, “fighting words,” and the like, but they generally believe that most of the work of regulating abusive speech should occur through the informal enforcement of new “norms of civility” on campus. Although these two positions constitute a major fault line in debates over campus speech, they do not capture the range of standpoints taken by participants in the debates. To cite one noteworthy example, some scholars, in the name of what they refer to as “an affirmative action pedagogy,” call for broader restrictions on speech (particularly classroom speech) than either the libertarian or liberal democratic positions endorse.

Article

The Judicialization of American Education  

J.C. Blokhuis and Randall Curren

Judicialization is the term most commonly used to describe the supervening authority of the courts in virtually every sphere of public life in liberal democratic states. In the United States, where judicialization is most advanced, political and administrative decisions by agencies and officials at every level of government are subject to constitutional scrutiny, and thus to the oversight and substituted decision-making authority of unelected members of the federal judiciary. The judicialization of American education is associated with the judicial review of administrative decisions by public school officials in lawsuits filed in the federal courts by or on behalf of students alleging due process and other Constitutional rights violations. So defined, the judicialization of American education has been facilitated by a number of legal and social developments in the Civil Rights Era, including the ascription of limited Constitutional rights to minors in public schools, the expansion of government agency liability, and the ensuing proliferation of lawsuits under Section 1983. Judicialization has been criticized for subjecting routine administrative decisions to complex and costly procedural regimentation, for distorting social relations by subjecting them to legal oversight, and for flooding the courts with frivolous lawsuits. The causes and outcomes of the judicialization of American education present a complex and mixed picture, however. The U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity’s Legal Services Program has played a central role in judicialization by providing legal resources to confront racial injustice in the punishment of students and in school funding.

Article

Learning from Disequilibrium and Educating the Feminine Voice in Philosophy  

Naoko Saito

This article broaches what can sometimes be seen as the suppression of the female voice, sometimes the repression of the feminine. To address these matters involves the reconsideration of the political discourse that pervades education and educational research. This article is an attempt to disclose inequity in apparently equitable space, through the acknowledgment of the voice of disequilibrium. It proposes to re-place the subject of philosophy, and the subject of woman, through an alternative idea of the feminine voice in philosophy. It tries to reconfigure the female voice without negating its fated biological origin and traits, and yet avoiding the confining of thought to the constraints of gender divides. In terms of education, it shall argue for the conversation of justice as a way of cultivating the feminine voice in philosophy: as the voice of disequilibrium. This is an occasion of mutual destabilization and transformation of man and woman, crossing gender divides, and preparing an alternative route to political criticism that not only reclaims the rights of women but releases the thinking of men and women, laying the way for a better, more pluralist, and more democratic politics. The feminine voice can find a way beyond the dominance of instrumental rationality and calculative thinking in the discourse on equity itself. And it can, one might reasonably hope, have an impact on the curriculum of university education.

Article

Moral Education and Technology  

Paul Farber and Dini Metro-Roland

Moral education and technology seem to represent two fundamentally different kinds of concern and domains of inquiry. But these domains are fused in educational practice. Teaching as a fundamental human endeavor and form of activity has been a central component of human cultural evolution and regeneration from the earliest human social groupings. As a distinctive form of activity, teaching braids together ethical and instrumental norms and values. The modern, global institution of schooling has added layers of institutional support, constraint, and governance on the teaching it structures as well as increased scrutiny of the ethical and instrumental values in play; schooling is in effect a kind of moral technology for advancing certain norms and values in an efficient way. At present, technological developments with modern society make possible new forms of teaching and learning that likewise warrant scrutiny as they impact the ethical and instrumental ends of teaching and instructional practices today.

Article

Philosophical Issues in Critical Thinking  

Juho Ritola

Critical thinking is active, good-quality thinking. This kind of thinking is initiated by an agent’s desire to decide what to believe, it satisfies relevant norms, and the decision on the matter at hand is reached through the use of available reasons under the control of the thinking agent. In the educational context, critical thinking refers to an educational aim that includes certain skills and abilities to think according to relevant standards and corresponding attitudes, habits, and dispositions to apply those skills to problems the agent wants to solve. The basis of this ideal is the conviction that we ought to be rational. This rationality is manifested through the proper use of reasons that a cognizing agent is able to appreciate. From the philosophical perspective, this fascinating ability to appreciate reasons leads into interesting philosophical problems in epistemology, moral philosophy, and political philosophy. Critical thinking in itself and the educational ideal are closely connected to the idea that we ought to be rational. But why exactly? This profound question seems to contain the elements needed for its solution. To ask why is to ask either for an explanation or for reasons for accepting a claim. Concentrating on the latter, we notice that such a question presupposes that the acceptability of a claim depends on the quality of the reasons that can be given for it: asking this question grants us the claim that we ought to be rational, that is, to make our beliefs fit what we have reason to believe. In the center of this fit are the concepts of knowledge and justified belief. A critical thinker wants to know and strives to achieve the state of knowledge by mentally examining reasons and the relation those reasons bear to candidate beliefs. Both these aspects include fascinating philosophical problems. How does this mental examination bring about knowledge? What is the relation my belief must have to a putative reason for my belief to qualify as knowledge? The appreciation of reason has been a key theme in the writings of the key figures of philosophy of education, but the ideal of individual justifying reasoning is not the sole value that guides educational theory and practice. It is therefore important to discuss tensions this ideal has with other important concepts and values, such as autonomy, liberty, and political justification. For example, given that we take critical thinking to be essential for the liberty and autonomy of an individual, how far can we try to inculcate a student with this ideal when the student rejects it? These issues underline important practical choices an educator has to make.

Article

Postmodernism in Education  

Marek Tesar, Andrew Gibbons, Sonja Arndt, and Nina Hood

The period of postmodernism refers to a diverse set of ideas, practices, and disciplines that came to prominence in the later 20th century. It is the overarching philosophical project that responds to and critiques the principles of modernity and challenges the established ways of thinking. It opposes the ideas that it is possible to rationalize life through narrow, singular disciplinary thinking or through the establishment of a universal truth and grand narratives that strive for the value-neutral homogeneity that defined Enlightenment thinking. Postmodernism questions ontological, epistemological, and ethical conventions, and it opens up possibilities for multiple discourses and accepting marginalized and minority thoughts and practices. Openness to diversity is a key outcome of the multiplicities arising in postmodernity across a range of fields, including, among others, art, education, philosophy, architecture, and economics. Through its rejection of the totalizing effects of metanarratives and their intentions to achieve universal truths, goals, outcomes, and sameness, the postmodern condition opens an ethical responsibility toward otherness, to allow for diversity, and thus to elevate those who have been subjugated or marginalized in modernity. Postmodernism has been playing a significant role in what sometimes is termed the equity approach in education. While postmodernism may be eventually overtaken by other “posts”—post-qualitative, post-truth, post-digital—it still remains an important part of philosophy of education scholarship and broader understandings and conceptualizations of education.

Article

Praise in Education  

Sofia Benson-Goldberg and Karen A. Erickson

Classroom teachers receive myriad advice about how best to manage students’ attention, interest, and behavior. Praise is often highlighted as a specific tool that teachers should use to reinforce both behavior and learning. Since praise statements are positive evaluations of students’ performance or behavior, they are thought to be an encouraging, motivating, and affirming tool for reinforcement. So strong is this belief in praise that many interventions have been created to increase the rate of praise teachers offer in both general and special education classrooms. These interventions, when evaluated narrowly, appear to be successful because increased rates of teacher praise result in increased student compliance. However, when evaluated more broadly, research shows that praise statements have long-lasting, often negative impacts on students that may inadvertently negatively impact academic achievement. Therefore, despite the seemingly positive benefits of praise, its role in learning and development remains unsettled.

Article

Provocations, Perspectives, and Possibilities of Chicana/Latina Feminist Pedagogies  

Tanya Diaz-Kozlowski

Chicana/Latina feminist thought and pedagogies offer interdisciplinary contributions that reimagine family, community, liberation, teaching, and learning rooted in de-colonial praxis. Chicana/Latina feminist thought and pedagogies have cultivated theoretical, methodological, and epistemological cartographies that map questions such as: what are the evolving conditions that shape the oppression Chicanas face in their daily lives?; how do Chicanas cultivate multiple subjectivities that strive for embodied wholeness rather than partiality?; in what ways can intersectionality as a theory of oppression not difference dismantle systems of privilege and inequality that are pervasive within institutions such as education, healthcare, the prison industrial complex, the military, religion, families, and mass media?; and how can theories of the flesh which emerge through the lived experiences of Chicanas’ lives offer new pathways to coalition building, activism, scholarship, and teaching and learning that remain bridged to equity, and to justice as praxis not place? Chicana feminist thought includes themes of the history and material conditions of Chicanas as the basis for feminist consciousness, reclaiming malinchismo and marianismo, sexuality (Chicanas as sexual subjects), a commitment to political action, coalition building and recognition of difference among Chicanas, and challenging the vendida logic within Chicano culture. Chicana/Latina feminist pedagogies are insistent that everyday experiences of Chicanas are worth studying because they serve as key sources of knowledge that are necessary to theorize new de-colonial visions of life, family, labor, community, and education. Chicana/Latina feminist pedagogies are multidisciplinary in their approach and are culturally specific ways of organizing teaching and learning in informal sites such as the home and community, ways that embrace Chicana ways of knowing and creating knowledge that point to schooling spaces as full of creativity, agency, movement, and coalition building.