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Article

Transformational School Leadership to Dismantle Inequitable Systems  

Deirdra Preis

A key reason for the failure of U.S. school leaders to challenge systems of inequity is the lack of exposure to the theory and skill development needed to manage the resistance and political challenges that inevitably occur when interrogating unjust traditions of practice. As preparation programs aim to improve their candidates’ future success in addressing inequitable educational access, it is critical that they develop in their students the self-efficacy around relational practices and strategies needed to manage the micropolitics of transformative work. Examining how transformative K–12 school leaders effectively challenge structural inequities and manage to sustain their leadership positions during turbulent times can help to inform such curricular and instructional revisions. Some of the key practices identified by successful transformative K–12 leaders include engaging in reflection around their positionality, developing racial literacy, effectively facilitating shared visions and collective responsibility for social justice advocacy, building the capacity of stakeholders, developing critical alliances through transparent and authentic community involvement, and participating in supportive professional peer networks that offer ongoing reflection, study, and support. By providing such content and skill practice, and ensuring that instruction and mentoring are provided by faculty who are experienced in transformative leadership, leader candidates can be better prepared for the realities of this challenging work, increasing the likelihood that they will act transformatively upon assuming school leadership roles.

Article

Trauma-Informed Practice in Early Childhood Education  

Elspeth Stephenson

Early traumatic experiences can have a profound impact on the developing brain causing a catastrophic effect on a child’s growth and development, the result of which can be lifelong. Early childhood educators have a critical role to play in the lives of children who have trauma histories. These educators are well positioned to undertake this work because early childhood philosophy and pedagogy align with the needs of a child who has experienced early adversity. Beliefs about the role of relationships, attachment, and felt safety are central to this work. To be effective, however, educators need to be trauma informed in their practice. Understanding how adverse experiences cause adaptation to the developing brain and impede development is a good starting place to becoming trauma informed, but translating this understanding into practice is key to success. While there are strategies that can support educators to work effectively with children with trauma histories, strategies alone will not suffice. They cannot simply be applied to any situation. If educators apply strategies without due thought and consideration in relation to the child’s needs and context, at best they may be ineffective and at worst, there is potential to retraumatize the child. All educators and children are unique individuals and therefore bring different attributes to each situation. Educators who understand themselves and their attributes can use this knowledge, along with their understanding of context and the impact of trauma, to make informed decisions about their practice. While this reflective process can sound arduous, educators can quickly become skilled as they hone their craft and see changes to their practice bring successful outcomes for children. In this way, early childhood educators have the capacity to change developmental trajectories for children and make a difference that will be lifelong.

Article

African Centered Education  

Kmt G. Shockley

African centered education (ACE) is a type of pedagogy and educational practice that centers the needs and interests of Black children and communities by requiring educators to become familiar with the issues, problems, and perspectives that exist within Black communities. Pedagogically, it involves including ideas and practices that come from African cultural groups (such as Ashanti, Zulu, Wolof, etc.) into the educational process. Several theories provide the major constructs upon which ACE is articulated, namely: (a) an understanding that Black people are, in fact, Africans; (b) an understanding that all people identified as being of African descent are Africans with a common aim and destiny, a sentiment called Pan Africanism; (c) the practice of re-Africanization, which relates to adopting aspects of indigenous African cultural practice into one’s life; (d) the adoption of traditional/indigenous African values, such as the ancient concept of Maat, into one’s life; (e) the practice of Black nationalism, which relates to believing that people of African descent constitute a nation that must be built for survival and sustainment; (f) an understanding and belief that educational institutions for Black children must be fully controlled by people of African descent; and (g) an understanding that there is a difference between education—which is the type of knowledge transmission process that Black youth need in order to solve problems and build institutions within their own communities, and schooling—which relates to the culturally mismatched training process that Black children are receiving in schools which prevents them from being able to use their “education” to solve problems and build institutions within their own communities.

Article

Chicana Feminist Epistemology in Higher Education  

Christina Torres García

In the wake of the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol attack, an op-ed in the online publication Inside Higher Education questioned the mission of education for its focus on teaching only Western perspectives—perspectives that normalize racial hierarchies, legitimize epistemological racism, and reproduce white supremacy. The postulation of the education system as a motor of white supremacy is not a new suggestion. Black, Indigenous, and Chicana scholars have long articulated the need to diversify and therefore democratize Western epistemology by deconstructing decolonial knowledge. Positioning Chicana Feminist Epistemologies (CFE) as an alternative epistemic will disrupt the philosophical assumptions of colonial epistemology supporting white supremacy by decolonizing the structure of what knowledge is and how it is created in higher education, especially within research and pedagogy approaches. However, CFE work has faced strong resistance within the intersections of public intellectuals, the Western canon of thought, and the intellectual spaces of academia. Nevertheless, Latinx students’ enrollment has increased in postsecondary education for the past decade, emanating a growth in research studies utilizing CFE. A CFE framework urges scholars, educators, and students to move away from colonial research designs rooted in hegemonic procedures to build new inclusive, equitable, liberatory, communal higher education processes that benefit not only Brown and Black students, staff, and faculty communities but also the white population who are dismantling white supremacy. Validating CFE in research, instructional, and pedagogical practices as well as in policy and procedures within education may encourage other scholars to diversify the Western canon of thought and decolonize intellectual spaces in higher education for a more equitable and social just education.

Article

Chinese Heritage Language Schools in the United States  

Shizhan Yuan

Chinese heritage language (CHL) schools in the United States serve the children of Chinese immigrants whose parents wish them to retain and develop their heritage Chinese language and culture in the United States. Traditionally, the U.S. K–12 school system and education policies adopt a classic assimilation (assimilation without accommodation) education model that maintains a dominant American English (DAE) at school. K–12 schools in the United States are usually reluctant to preserve the heritage languages and cultures of immigrants from other countries. CHL schools in the United States are usually founded by communities of Chinese immigrants to support their children’s learning of Chinese heritage language and culture (also known as CHL children or CHL learners). CHL schools come in different forms: some are Chinese after-school programs that normally operate on weekday afternoons, when CHL students finish their classes in the K–12 schools; others are operated on weekends (weekend CHL schools). Depending on the origins of their founders (such as mainland China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan) as well as the needs of the Chinese community, CHL schools may teach Mandarin or Cantonese as the oral language, and simplified Chinese characters or traditional Chinese characters as the written language. CHL schools also use different course materials, and the curriculum depends on the needs and origins of the CHL learners’ families and communities as well as the origin of their founders.

Article

Higher Education Equity and Justice  

Ulpukka Isopahkala-Bouret

The higher education (HE) equity and social justice agenda is primarily concerned with inequalities in the participation of underrepresented groups. The main purpose of this agenda is to widen access to the social privileges that HE offers. Transnational policy agencies and national governments have advised higher education institutions (HEIs) to deploy relevant indicators and implement inclusive practices, such as financial assistance, nondiscriminatory admission mechanisms, and student guidance and counseling. HEIs have also been funded to provide outreach and widening participation programs in several countries. In the early 21st century, the conceptualization of HE equity and justice has broadened from fair access to more holistic, procedural, and intersectional approaches. Still, the lack of reliable, relevant, and feasible policy indicators and data make it a challenging objective to measure and follow up. Furthermore, research has pointed out the need for contextualized definitions of equity and justice because the specific social and cultural challenges differ from one country to another. Equity and justice manifest themselves in the broader design of national and regional HE systems. Some HE systems have stronger institutional stratification and financial barriers than others, hence restraining the fairness of access and social inclusion. The application of Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological theory has dominated much of the research on structural constraints of HE equity and justice. An understanding of the connection between structure/agency and the cultural reproduction opens up new avenues for the development of HE equity and justice in both policy and practice.

Article

Dialogic Pedagogies  

Christine Edwards-Groves

Dialogic pedagogies, contrasted with more monologic approaches to teaching, constitute a broad field of study concerned with classroom talk and interaction and its influence on student learning, knowledge building, and disciplinary competence. Classroom talk and interaction matter, and what constitutes their efficacy in the dialogic classroom has been the subject of intense research across the globe for many decades. In particular, research interest lies in the role and influence of teacher’s and student’s routine interactional work for facilitating student learning, engagement, and participation. Spanning several decades, the detailed and systematic study of the nature of classroom talk in lessons has intensified, with attention being drawn to ways that dialogic approaches to pedagogy can enhance learning through changed teacher–student exchange patterns. In many ways, focusing on classroom talk, and the patterns of interaction that support it, may seem to be a relatively trivial idea, in that teachers at all levels routinely engage in talk in their pedagogical interactions with students. But herein lies the central issue: Talk and interaction is so commonplace that its purposes, its power, and its position in pedagogy is taken for granted, and it is rarely a focus of deliberate professional reflection, critique, and development. Thus, in the main, classroom dialogue is frequently underplayed as fundamental to efficacy in practice, and so its centrality for teaching and learning drifts into the background. It is in this vein that dialogic researchers across the globe have sought to give prominence to classroom talk and interaction beyond its everyday taken for grantedness. Drawing on a range of theoretical, methodological, and analytic paradigms, classroom talk and interaction is foregrounded as it relates to pedagogical dialogism. Proponents of dialogic pedagogies make a strong case for renewing an emphasis on classroom talk and interaction through identifying, describing, representing, and changing lesson talk through more dialogically enriched lesson practices. Taken together, the research argues for sustained emphasis on the dialogic, directing educators to the efficacy of everyday encounters in classroom lessons by focusing on the nature and influence of dialogicality, how it works—and what it affords—in the everyday unfolding of teaching and learning. In ranging educational contexts, it has been shown that a dialogic sensibility emerges when teachers and students explicitly attend to and manage the lesson talkscape, where their pedagogical dialogues are learning focused and a shared responsibility. Proponents of dialogic pedagogies argue for the promotion of “academically productive discourse” by focusing on the impact of opening up the communicative space in classroom discussions in ways that promote student engagement and participation. Yet against a burgeoning body of work from diverse national contexts, research traditions, and analytic approaches heralding its merits, it seems more restrictive discourse structures and more limited discursive opportunities have prevailed in classrooms across the world. In fact, as some researchers have indicated, changing the nature of talk in lessons has proven to be difficult as typical patterns of talk appear to be resistant to change. Ultimately, enduring issues concerning methodology, scalability, focus, and impact on dialogic practice provide grounds for increased larger scale and longitudinal research.

Article

Interdisciplinary Expansion and the History of Education in Sweden  

Johannes Westberg

The field of the history of education in Sweden has distinct features, yet also shares common characteristics with the history of education in other countries. As elsewhere, it has developed from being a field mainly occupied by schoolmen in the early 20th century to a research field firmly entrenched in the humanities and social sciences from the 1960s and onward. Like in other countries, the topics and theoretical frameworks have multiplied, making the history of education into a broad field of research. There are, however, several features that stand out in an international context. Most important, the history of education in Sweden has expanded in terms of active researchers and output since the early 2000s due to the favorable conditions in Swedish higher education presented in this article. It has also never developed into a discipline of its own but instead has remained multidisciplinary, with a strong base in the disciplines of education and history. As a result, the history of education in Sweden has remained quite independent from the international field. While it is certainly possible to identify the impact of various international trends, including those of the new cultural history of education, the history of education in Sweden is marked by the disciplines that it is part of. From this follows that this national field is less determined by international associations, conferences and journals, and the so-called turns that one might identify in these. Instead, it is the Swedish context of educational research, Swedish curriculum theory, social history, economic history, history education, sociology of education, and child studies that provide the history of education in Sweden with a character of its own—that is, a field with research groups, conferences, workshops, and a journal that encompasses several research fields.

Article

Navigating Change: Pacific Islanders, Race, Sport, and Pipelines to Higher Education  

Keali'I Kukahiko

Tagata Pasifika (Pacific People) is a transnational affiliation whose collective colonial experiences provide island nations of Oceania a means for contestation over local discourses of power and race. Employing the principle of Tagata Pasifika within higher education necessitates recognition of how postsecondary institutions are significant sites of conflict that engender the collective resistance among Pasifika communities for the following reasons: (a) to close the educational opportunity gap between Pasifika communities and spheres of influence—positions of power that dictate policies, social circumstances, and human living conditions; (b) to affirm Pasifika participation in the knowledge production process by developing ontological self-efficacy and decolonizing spaces in higher education that erase and marginalize Pasifika ontologies; and (c) to engage action research as opportunities that enact various forms of sovereignty, such as the ability to participate in cultural practices as authentic and legitimate ways of knowing and being or recognizing Pasifika intellectual participation as a process of action, or inaction, informed by cultural and experiential values. A salient college access point for Pasifika communities is the phenomena of college athletics because Pasifika college football players are 56 times more likely to matriculate to the National Football League. However, low graduation rates—only 11% of Pasifika college football players graduated from the Football Championship Series college division in 2015—have made this “untraditional” pathway an extractive pipeline that provides the National Collegiate Athletic Association membership institutions with athletic labor. Although college athletes continue to have the conditions of their admissions leveraged against them to prevent student resistance/activism, student-athletes have an unprecedented potential for influence in the “post-COVID” landscape of college athletics.

Article

“Race,” Inequality, and Education in the Czech Republic  

Dana Moree, Alena Kosak Felcmanova, and Magdaléna Karvayová

“Race” and education are profoundly interconnected in the Czech context, and this is especially visible with respect to the issue of the Roma population. The communist regime of the former Czechoslovakia made use of the educational environment to strengthen its ideology through teacher training, discriminative legislation, and changing the content of education. “Race” issues in society were “solved” by segregating most Roma children into what were called “special schools” for the mentally disabled. The fall of communism introduced freedom and changes to all of society, particularly in the education system, but new education legislation was not passed until 15 years after the fall of communism, and it did not address issues around discrimination sufficiently. In 2007, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the Czech Republic for having discriminated against a group of Roma children during the 1990s. This means a discriminatory situation and its consequences were still visible almost 30 years after the fall of communism. In response to this ruling, inclusion policy began to be promoted in Czech schools as of 2016. The situation from the perspective of legislation has been becoming more equal—the Act on Education has been amended, the financial support for disadvantaged children in education has become more transparent, and so on, but data from research conducted after amendment of the Act on Education show that the situation in or near what are called “socially excluded areas” has become much more difficult. Roma children are segregated not just by the official decisions of school establishers (municipalities) but also through parents, teachers, and head teachers from the majority population who interpret the applicable rules in such a way that Roma children, pupils, and students are concentrated into specific schools and do not attend school together with majority-society (non-Roma) children. “Race” issues, in combination with poverty, are drawing new borders around access to education. Roma children are not always welcome in the schools. These are reasons why the interconnectedness of the education system with issues related to racism in the context of a transforming society should be carefully analyzed. There are several facets of the topic, which we should take into consideration: First, terms like race, culture, and ethnicity are very often used without a deeper discussion of their meaning. It is necessary to use them precisely and reflectively. Second, this interconnectedness between race and education works on individual and interpersonal levels, the cultural level, and the structural level. They all should be taken into consideration while planning research, changes, or interventions. Finally, the interplay between these three levels is visible when we analyze real examples from the field (e.g., an intervention initiated by a nongovernmental Roma organization, Awen Amenca, in the city in the Czech Republic with the highest concentration of socially excluded localities).