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Activism and Social Movement Building in Curriculum  

Julie Gorlewski and Isabel Nuñez

Curriculum, while often conceived as a static entity delivered as a neutral set of facts arranged in disciplinary categories, is, in reality, a pedagogical artifact—a product generated as a result of decisions made by a range of stakeholders who represent different cultural imperatives linked to contested perspectives about the purposes of school. Students’ and teachers’ experiences of school, then, are dialogic performances of a curriculum that promotes various levels of power and privilege, as well as understandings of equity and diversity. Therefore, whether or not it is recognized, the curriculum delivered in schools serves to either maintain or interrupt the status quo. Given the number of students who participate in public education, curriculum contributes a great deal to shaping the national narrative. Curriculum contributes to social movements, and the nature of the curriculum determines the direction of the movement. Since curriculum development and implementation involves myriad decisions, influence is wielded by those with decision-making power. Social status and cultural capital, both of which are historically linked with political power, largely determine who makes curricular decisions, as well as how decisions are made. These conditions pose challenges for those who have been historically marginalized within educational institutions. Despite obstacles related to systemic inequities, different forms of curriculum can and do contribute to the creation and perpetuation of social movements. Moreover, educators who understand how educational institutions function, how curricular changes occur, and how curriculum can be a source of and vehicle for change can create conditions for transformative activist curricular movements.

Article

Education for Sustainable Development and the “Whole Person” Curriculum in Japan  

Ian Clark, Niculina Nae, and Masahiro Arimoto

Since the 1970s, Japanese society has endured rapid and confusing socio-economic transformation. These changes brought a sense of decentralization into Japanese life. It was a sense of loss and a sense of reality, as the stable dependencies that had characterized the Japanese way of life for centuries vanished. In the years leading up to the 21st century, this radical departure from tradition meant that the concept of continuity existed only to emphasize its absence. Society goes through a process of rapid change, posing challenges not everyone might be ready to tackle. The unintended, but inevitable, consequence is the social disaffection of Japanese youth, who may be losing their motivation (or focus) at a time of sudden and sustained adversity. The Japanese government is promoting the revitalizing energy of education for sustainable development (ESD), and even publicizes ESD’s potential for giving life a robust meaning. This is by no means an exclusively Japanese problem. In recent years, and with Japanese leadership, other UNESCO nations have integrated ESD into curricula. To fully understand the nature of the Japanese system for sustainable education, scholars need to draw from cultural philosophy, social neuroscience, historical analysis, and the ideas of socio-cognitive and constructivist theorists. Such a mix of methods provides an inter-disciplinary “geometry” of the often deeply inlaid shapes, patterns, and relationships that surround the uniquely cultural, yet highly exportable models for zenjin-education (“whole-person”).

Article

History and Social Studies Curriculum  

E. Wayne Ross

Social studies education has had a turbulent history as one of the core subjects in the school curriculum. The fundamental content of the social studies curriculum – the study of human enterprise across space and time –however, has always been at the core of educational endeavors. It is generally accepted that the formal introduction of social studies to the school curriculum was instigated by the 1916 report of the National Education Association’s Committee on Social Studies, which emphasized development of citizenship values as a core aim of history and social science education. Earlier commissions of the N.E.A. and American Historical Association heavily influenced the Committee on Social Studies recommendations. The roots of the contemporary social studies curriculum, therefore, can be traced to two distinct curriculum reform efforts: the introduction of academic history into the curriculum and citizenship education. There is widespread agreement that the aim of social studies is citizenship education, that is the preparation of young people so that they possess the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for active participation in society. This apparent consensus, however, has been described as almost meaningless because social studies educators continue to be at odds over curricular content as well as the conception of what it means to be a good citizen. Since its formal introduction into the school, social studies curriculum been the subject of numerous commission and blue-ribbon panel studies, ranging from the sixteen-volume report of the American Historical Association’s Commission on Social Studies in the 1930s to the more recent movement for national curriculum standards. Separate and competing curriculum standards have been published for no less than seven areas of that are part of the social studies curriculum: United States and global history, economics, geography, civics, psychology, and social studies. Social studies curriculum is defined a lack of consensus and has been an ideological battleground with ongoing debates over its nature, purpose, and content. Historically there have been a diverse range of curricular programs that have been a prominent within social studies education at various times, including the life adjustment movement, progressive education, social reconstructionism, and nationalistic history. The debate over the nature, purpose, and content of the social studies curriculum continues today, with competing groups variously arguing for a social issues approach, the disciplinary study of history and geography, or action for social justice as the most appropriate framework for the social studies curriculum.

Article

Postwar School Reforms in Norway  

Harald Thuen and Nina Volckmar

Comprehensive schooling has been a cornerstone in the development of the Norwegian welfare state since World War II. Over the years it has been extended, initially from 7 to 9 years and later to 10-year compulsory schooling, since the late 1990s including virtually all Norwegian children between the ages of 6 and 16. In education policy, the interests of the community versus the individual have played a key role, reflected in a line of conflict between the political left and right. During the first three to four decades after the war, through the Labor Party, the left wing was in power and developed education policy according to a social-democratic model. The ideal of equality and community in schools had precedence. The vision was to create a school for all that had a socially and culturally unifying effect on the nation and its people. Social background, gender, and geographical location should no longer create barriers between pupils. Ideally, school was to be understood as a “miniature democracy,” where pupils would be trained in solidarity and cooperation. Compulsory schooling was thus regarded as an instrument for social integration and for evening out social inequalities. But one challenge remained: How could a common school for all best take care of the individual needs of each pupil? The principle of individualized teaching within the framework of a common school was incorporated in the education policy of social democracy and was subjected to experimentation and research from an early stage. But with the political shift to the right toward the 2000s, a sharper polarization can be observed between the interests of the community versus the interests of the individual. The political right profiles education policy in opposition to the left-wing emphasis on the social purpose of the school system. In the early 21st century, the interests of knowledge, the classroom as a learning arena, and the performance of each pupil take precedence. Based on the model of New Public Management, a new organizational culture is taking shape in the school system. Where the political left formed its policy from the perspective of “equality” during the first postwar decades, the right is now forming it from the perspective of “freedom.” And this is taking place without significant opposition from the left. The terms “equality” and “equity” provide the framework for the analysis of the changing polarity between collective and individual considerations and between pupils’ freedom and social solidarity in postwar education.

Article

Public Pedagogy Theories, Methodologies, and Ethics  

Michael P. O'Malley, Jennifer A. Sandlin, and Jake Burdick

Public pedagogy is a theoretical concept focusing on forms, processes, and sites of education and learning occurring beyond formal schooling and practices. Scholars have drawn from the theoretical arenas of cultural studies, critical pedagogy, and artistic/aesthetic approaches to learning in the public sphere. Focusing on both the hegemonic and the resistant aspects of public educational sites, educational scholars employing the term typically explicate its feminist, critical, cultural, performative, and/or activist pedagogical dimensions. Other scholars studying public pedagogy take up the challenge of redefining education in order to deinstitutionalize its conceptualization and uncouple it from its automatic associations with schools; and yet others take these criticisms further to explore posthuman reconceptualizations of pedagogy. Public pedagogy scholarship between 2011-2019 deploys various imaginings of the nature of the public, bringing divergent yet needed specificity to inquiry. Conceptualizations of public pedagogues and intellectualism in this time period focus less on a heroic figure advocating for marginalized groups and more on educative interruptions of public space, on popular yet disqualified knowledges, and on communal engagement that organizes around shared dissent from marginalization and alliances across difference. Theoretical and methodological investments in the study of public pedagogies have expanded to highlight poststructural and postcolonial radical critiques of the subject and nationalized legacies of colonialism. There is greater attention to the processes of becoming publics, with an emergent turn to decolonial, queer of color, posthumanist, and similar frameworks. Understandings of the pedagogical processes of public pedagogy have emphasized Marxist critical perspectives on ideological transfer; embodied, performative, and aesthetic relational dimensions; and posthumanist efforts to complicate ordained and boundaried familiar narratives, inclusive of viewing the public as a plurality of relations constituted by the human and other than human. Two productive tensions that call for further exploration in public scholarship involve the need to problematize and exceed its colonialist and humanist origins, and amplifying a relationship between scholarship and activism so that public pedagogies outside and inside institutional spaces foster an ethical vocation of the public sphere.

Article

Service Learning and Teacher Education  

Nadine Petersen, Sarah Gravett, and Sarita Ramsaroop

Although teacher education actively promotes the ideals of social justice and care, finding ways of enculturating student teachers into what these values mean in education remains a challenge. Additionally, the literature abounds with the struggles of teacher educators to prepare student teachers with the knowledge and competencies required for the complex task of teaching. A way to address this is through the inclusion of service learning (SL) in initial teacher education programs. SL, as a form of experiential learning, with reflection at its core, serves as a means of deepening student learning about the practice of social justice and care and as a way of both drawing on, and informing, student teachers’ practical and situational learning of teaching. SL also holds potential for preparing teachers with the competencies required for the 21st century. The research on SL in teacher education draws on theoretical perspectives of experiential learning, democracy education, social transformation, multicultural education, critical reflection, and education for civic responsibility. A limitation is that the literature within developing contexts is underrepresented, limiting access to useful lessons from the research in these contexts and preventing wider theorization in the field.

Article

Learning in History  

Liliana Maggioni and Emily Fox

At first glance, learning in history might be characterized as committing to memory sanctioned stories about the past. Yet a deeper consideration of this process opens up several questions about the specific features that make the generation of shared knowledge about the past possible and meaningful. Some of these questions regard the very object of such learning: What makes specific aspects of the past historically significant? What relations among people, events, and phenomena are especially salient in fostering understanding of the past? Another set of questions regards the affective and cognitive traits and abilities that characterize a successful learner in history. Researchers from different countries have worked at the intersection between history, history education, and educational psychology, and have investigated how experts and novices address historical questions on the basis of sources provided to them, identifying certain differences in their strategy use, their ability to contextualize information gleaned from the sources, their use of prior knowledge, and their ideas about the nature of historical knowledge and historical evidence. Researchers have also studied the influence that learners’ epistemic beliefs, school curricula, pedagogical practices, testing, and classroom discourse may have on student learning in history. By their variety, these studies have illustrated the complex nature of learning in history and evidenced several tensions among educational goals and between these goals and educational practices in the 21st century.

Article

Sustainability in Technical and Vocational Education  

Lisiane Celia Palma, Marcelo Trevisan, and Nathália Rigui Trindade

Establishing a balance between the demands of the productive sectors and other societal spheres is one of the greatest challenges in the area of sustainability. Education for Sustainability (EfS) can help educational institutions (EIs), especially technical schools, to overcome this challenge. Therefore, it is important to explore how the theme of EfS is currently being addressed in technical education. Sustainability permeates discussions about technical education, yet it is not yet central to the education process. The integration of aspects of sustainability in education require the restructuring of didactic arrangements. In this vein, experiential learning theory (ELT) can help EIs to improve EfS. ELT is one of the most effective ways to promote positive change in individuals and organizations.

Article

Earth Education  

Bruce Johnson and Constantinos Manoli

Earth education is an alternative approach to environmental learning, which has been developed as a potential serious response to the environmental crises we face. With roots in frustrations with traditional nature education that led to the innovative Acclimatization program, earth education has grown into a more comprehensive approach to environmental learning. The early work of Acclimatization led to earth education. The programmatic approach used in earth education, with its components of ecological understandings, feelings, and processing, have led to innovative aspects such as the I-A-A (Inform-Assimilate-Apply) learning model and the inclusion of “magic.” The Institute for Earth Education is the non-profit organization leading this approach and its work under the leadership of Steve Van Matre helps to propel these ideas.

Article

Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Inclusive Education  

Phil Foreman

Inclusive education is a widely accepted pedagogical and policy principle, but its genesis has been long and, at times, difficult. For example, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights included statements about rights and freedoms that have, over the decades, been used to promote inclusive educational practices. Article 26 of the Declaration stated that parents “have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” This declaration later helped some parent groups and educators to advocate for equal access to schooling in regular settings, and for parental choice about where their child would be educated. Following the widespread influence of the human rights-based principle of normalization, the concept of inclusive education received major impetus from the Education of All Handicapped Children Act in the United States in 1975, the United Nations (UN) International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. A major focus of the UN initiatives has been the right of people with a disability to participate fully in society. This focus has obvious consequences for the way education is provided to students with a disability or other additional educational needs. For many years, up to the last quarter of the 20th century, the major focus for such students was on the provision of separate specialized services, with limited attention to the concept of full participation in society. Toward the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century, there has been increasing acceptance, through parental action, systemic policy, and government legislation, of inclusivity as a basic philosophical principle. Both the type of instruction that should be provided to students with a disability and the location of that instruction in regular or specialized settings have been topics for advocacy and research, sometimes with mixed and/or controversial conclusions.