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Sociocultural Factors and the Global Goals of Education for All  

Eric A. Hurley

All over the world, nations have spent much of the last 20 years scrambling to increase and improve access to basic education. Globally, the number of people without access to a basic education has fallen significantly in the years since the goals of Education For All (EFA) were announced in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, and extended at Incheon, South Korea, in 2016. This is ostensibly very good news. While universal access to a basic education is certainly a worthy goal, one can raise significant questions about the orientation of these efforts and the manner in which they are being pursued. For example, very little attention seems to have been paid to what the schools are or will be like, or to how the nations and people they must serve may be different from those for whom they were designed. To understand the inevitable problems that flow from this potential mismatch, it is useful to examine education in nations that have achieved more or less universal access to basic education. Many of the educational, social, economic, and social justice disparities that plague those nations are today understood as natural effects of the educational infrastructures in operation. Examination of recent empirical research and practice that attends to the importance of social and cultural factors in education may allow nations that are currently building or scaling up access to head off some predictable and difficult problems before they become endemic and calcified on a national scale. Nations who seize the opportunity to build asset-based and culturally responsive pedagogies into their educational systems early on may, in time, provide the rest of the world with much needed leadership on these issues.

Article

Trans Gender/Queer Youth  

Alandis A. Johnson

Trans and gender/queer youth pose some interesting scenarios for education in both secondary and postsecondary realms. Increasing identifications outside of binaries among students, faculty, and staff members who identify as transgender, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary have pushed schools to alter the way these individuals are recognized within these systems. These changes involve deconstructing binaries and the related exclusionary processes and policies. Transgender and gender-expansive youth are challenging the ways in which gender is built into schools, highlighting underlying binaries and structural oppression in all levels of education. Key issues and debates regarding transgender inclusion in educational spheres, such as Title IX, visibility, and knowledge of transgender issues, routes to inclusion, and the fallacy of “best practice.” Generational and cultural differences related to gender recognition and identification will continue to shape educational environments and beyond for years to come.

Article

Differentiated Instruction and Inclusive Schooling  

Diana Lawrence-Brown

Differentiated instruction encompasses a wide range of responsive pedagogies, including individualized types and levels of curricula, teaching methods, materials, and assessment strategies. It has at its roots the impetus for effective inclusive schooling, providing supports directly within general education classrooms for students with the full range of exceptionalities (both significant disabilities and giftedness) and other diverse educational characteristics such as cultural and linguistic background and socioeconomic status. To effectively include students with higher levels of need, comparable levels of supports follow the student from the special education setting to the general education classroom. This enriched level of support in the general education classroom benefits not only students with disabilities, but the class as a whole. The legal and ethical bases for inclusive schooling are connected with various civil rights movements (including race, disability, culture and language, gender); it can be viewed as a response to segregated schooling (and denial of schooling altogether). Schools frequently remove students when traditional educational programs fail, adding on separate programs rather than rectifying the existing system. Such special programs have been routinely promulgated without substantial evidence of their effectiveness over supportive general education classrooms (either for segregated students or for their unlabeled general education peers). Important aspects of differentiated instruction and inclusive schooling include multilevel instruction; authentic and culturally responsive curricula, methods, and assessment; universal design for learning; assistive and instructional technologies; positive behavioral supports; and a collaborative team approach to instructional decision-making and delivery. Differentiated instruction and effective inclusive schooling are vital for equitable access to educational opportunities, bringing more responsive curricula, methods, and perspectives to increasingly diverse classrooms and schools.

Article

Effective Practices for Helping Students Transition to Work  

Michael Shevlin, John Kubiak, Mary-Ann O'Donovan, Marie Devitt, Barbara Ringwood, Des Aston, and Conor McGuckin

People with disabilities have been among the most marginalized groups within society, with consequent limitations imposed on their access to many goods within society, including education, employment, and economic independence. Some progress is evident in the establishment of more inclusive learning environments, yet it is also clear that upon leaving compulsory education or further/higher education, young people with disabilities encounter significant barriers to accessing meaningful employment. Facilitating transitions to employment for people with disabilities should be informed by ambition and a belief in the capacity of these individuals to make a meaningful contribution to society and achieve a level of economic independence. The issues that are pertinent to young people who have a special educational need or a disability and an aspiration to transition to further/higher education require attention. Research and applied practice has demonstrated the utility of an innovative educational and work readiness program for people with an intellectual disability. Such work highlights the facilitating factors that may encourage a more ambitious reimagining of what may be possible for individuals who have been marginalized.

Article

Effective Practices for Teaching All Learners in Secondary Classrooms  

Kate de Bruin

It is important to consider inclusive and effective teacher practices in secondary classrooms as distinct from other schooling levels and settings. Many years of inclusive education reforms have brought about increases in the numbers of students with disabilities who are educated in the regular school system. However, progress has been slower for secondary school students with disabilities, who remain more likely to be segregated from their peers and to receive a poorer-quality education, when compared to their primary school counterparts. This is because many barriers to student inclusion remain entrenched in the structure and organization of secondary schooling systems. These barriers often arise from seeing difficulties in learning and participating through a medical model and thus requiring diagnostic verification and specialist support, instead of seeing student difficulties in learning as arising from a social model of disability, in which student participation and progress are hampered by poor design or inflexibility in teaching practices and a lack of access to support. A large body of research exists to support the case for using a range of school-wide organization as well as classroom-based practices that effectively overcome these barriers, and provide high-quality and equitable academic and social supports to all students in the secondary school classroom. Those that foster collaboration and effective relationships between professionals and students, and that provide access to support on the basis of need rather than diagnosis, have been found to produce supportive environments in which diversity is valued, equity is maximized for all students, and social and academic outcomes are improved for all students.

Article

Policies and Practices that Foster Education for All: Implications for Economically Poor Nations  

Richard Rose and Ratika Malkani

International agreements that aim to achieve universal primary education for all children, regardless of need or ability, have ensured that governments around the world have considered policy development to support greater equity in education. Many of the world’s more economically advantaged countries have made significant progress to ensure that all children have opportunities to attend school. Progress has also been evident in countries which are less advantaged, though often this has been inhibited because of a lack of resources and expertise. The relationship between policy, provision, and practice in education is complex, and in responding to international agreements, governments have needed to take account of their own cultural and socio-economic circumstances. While many administrations have adopted models developed in other countries, the need to take account of existing practices and to build upon local expertise is apparent.

Article

Psychological Well-Being and Resilience  

Shelva Paulse Hurley

Resilience is the ability to adapt and thrive despite facing adversity. There are various ontological approaches to conceptualizing resilience, including the pathological perspective, defining it in terms of protective factors, and exploring the impact of intervention in the manifestation of resilience. The pathological perspective defines resilience in terms of risk factors located at the individual level. A second area of research on resilience defines it in terms of protective factors that may contribute to its manifestation. The final area of research takes into account not only individual-level risk or protective factors, but also accounts for structural influence in an assessment of resilience. As an example of the interaction between individual and structural factors, Caleon and King proposed the concept of Subjective School Resilience. This perspective on resilience suggests it is a malleable construct and influenced by factors relating to both intra- and interpersonal processes.

Article

Teacher Activism in the United States  

Kurt Stemhagen and Tamara Sober

There are a variety of ways in which teachers engage in activism. Teachers working for social change within their classrooms and teachers who engage in advocacy and organize to influence policy, law, and society are all doing work that falls under the umbrella of teacher activism. While there are numerous catalysts, many teachers become activists when they encounter unjust educational or social structures. There are also considerable obstacles to teachers recognizing their potential power as activists. From the gendered history of teaching to the widespread conception of teaching as a solitary and not a collective enterprise, there is rarely an easy path toward activism. The importance of collective as opposed to individual social action among teachers is increasingly recognized. Many cities now have teacher activist organizations, a group of which have come together and created a national coalition of teacher activist groups. Overall, teacher activism is an underresearched and undertheorized academic area of study. Possibilities for collective action should be fully explored.

Article

Best Practices for Working with Students with Physical Disabilities  

April B. Coughlin

The Disability Studies in Education framework offers the best practices for working with, listening to, and addressing the strengths and needs of students with physical disabilities in schools. Areas covered include reducing barriers to physical and social access, utilizing expertise of students with disabilities to inform practice, reducing stigma while creating disability culture in the classroom, and assisting students with physical disabilities in building self-advocacy skills.

Article

Dual Certification Programs  

Linda Blanton and Marleen Pugach

Dual certification refers to a teaching license both for general primary and/or secondary education and special needs education simultaneously. This term is unique to the United States, where licensure policy has traditionally offered options for teacher candidates to earn an initial stand-alone license in either general or special needs education, and contrasts with initial teacher education policy patterns outside the United States, where teachers are not typically permitted to earn an initial license for special needs education alone. Various forms of dual certification have existed in the United States for many decades, but until recently they were not the norm. Contemporary teacher educators and policymakers in the United States have adopted and encouraged dual certification as a way of supporting the preparation of teachers for effective inclusive teaching. As a result, dual certification is viewed as a means of restructuring and expanding the entirety of the preservice, initial teacher education curriculum to become highly responsive both to the increasing diversity of students and to the wider range and more complex needs of students who struggle in school, among them students with special needs. Because dual certification addresses the vital question of how best to prepare initial teachers for inclusive teaching, its fundamental, underlying concerns transcend specific national structural or policy issues regarding licensure. Instead, dual certification reflects a focus on the content of initial teacher preparation writ large regarding what kinds of redesigned, reconceptualized clinical, course, and curricular experiences might be most effective in preparing teachers for high-quality inclusive teaching practice. Dual certification calls into question the nature of teacher expertise, challenging basic beliefs about where the responsibility of general education teachers ends and where that of special needs education teachers begins. In this way, dual certification can be viewed as a specific national policy vehicle that addresses common international concerns for developing appropriate preservice curricula that are responsive to the demands of inclusive educational practice. Implementing dual certification is not without its challenges, however, as reflected in some of the early and ongoing attempts at implementation. Therefore, it is critical both to anticipate potential pitfalls as well as to identify potential solutions that are appropriate to the fundamental purposes of preparing teachers for inclusive practice.