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Justice and Education  

Christopher Martin

One of the fundamental tasks of philosophy is the search for the just state, or “best regime.” Discerning the right, or most desirable, norms and principles of governance and the fair treatment of citizens extends back into antiquity. To ask “What is just?” is to make salient enduring questions about what people are owed as members of a political community, as well as the kind of political community that can ensure that people receive what they are owed. Answering the question, “what is just” also requires inquiry into the scope and substance of education within a just and fair society. This, because a just regime is not self-sufficient. It must be cultivated, developed, and preserved. Here we are concerned with the values and aims that a just society should strive to provide for citizens and how access to those values and aims should be justly structured. For example, what kind of educational provision should be allocated to all citizens as a matter or basic justice or fairness? How should limited educational goods and resources be allocated between different citizens? To what extent should education promote norms of conduct and points of view among members of a political community in order to promote greater justice and fairness between citizens, and what should these norms and points of view consist? However, in addition to the reasons why education can contribute to a just society, engaging in these questions also requires a careful consideration of the reasons why (or why not) people are owed an education. I am here suggesting that philosophers interested in education and justice must contend with what it is about education that might make it something that individuals rightly have a claim to as a matter of justice alongside a consideration of the ways in which the provision of education can promote a justice in a more widespread sense. The two are not one and the same. For example, imagine an indoctrinative education that ensured future citizens acted with flawless impartiality and fairness in all things resulting in a society of perfect equality. One might claim that, merits aside, such an education would unjustly deny individual citizens an education for critical thinking and independence. Consequently, inquiry into education and justice raises numerous philosophically complex questions arising from the interplay of general political principles and educational values including the nature and scope of educational rights, tensions between the cultivation of individuals and the development of communities, the attribution of differences in educational achievement to desert (or not), and the role and limits of educational allocation in supporting a more equal society, to name just a few.

Article

Latinx Curriculum Theorizing  

Ganiva Reyes

Latinx curriculum theorizing is a constellation of curriculum scholarship rooted in the histories, knowledges, and everyday lives of peoples from across the Latin American diaspora. It is a framework that pushes back against demonizing stereotypes, caricatures, and colonial generalizations of an entire diaspora. Born out of resistance and liberation, it comes from the histories and practices of Latinx peoples in creating counternarratives, education reform, and activism. Specifically, Latinx curriculum theorizing includes the following: (a) Latinidad as a collective point of entry, (b) Latinx as a term, (c) history and circumstance as curricular knowledge, (d) counternarratives and testimonio as curriculum theorizing, (e) cultural knowledges of Latinx students and community as theory, (f) cultural knowledges of Latinx teachers, and (g) Latinx communities generating critical pedagogies and education initiatives. Latinx curriculum theorizing draws from a variety of Latinx philosophical traditions, including critical race theory, Latina feminist philosophy, Latinx and Chicanx studies, and various strands of Latin American, Continental, Caribbean, and Africana philosophy. While scholars who do Latinx curriculum theorizing are trained in theories such as critical race theory, feminist theory, and post- and decolonial theories, because of the subject matter and the people, this framework is the next step up in putting such foundational theories into conversation with one another. It is therefore a newly emerging framework, in the early 21st century, because it draws upon all these perspectives to account for a very transitionary, contradictory, and messy Latinx experience. What makes something distinctly Latinx curriculum is an engagement with a state of transition and liminal spaces, both pedagogically and epistemologically, with the varied and multilayered trajectories of Latin American-origin realities. Far from being a monolithic and static framework, Latinx curriculum theorizing is itself malleable, contested, and in transition. Just as Latinx itself is a contested term within academic and activist spaces, Latinx curriculum theorizing is a point of contestation that makes it a framework with porous boundaries that can explain and even redefine the Latinx educational experience. As such, Latinx curriculum lends itself to nuanced analysis and praxis for issues of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, language, migration, racial hierarchies, and colonial legacies. This type of curriculum theorizing also points to power structures from multiple social locations and offers pathways for social change and liberation.

Article

LGBTIQ+ Teachers  

Emily M. Gray

Major research that focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer plus (LGBTIQ+) teachers demonstrates that the field encompasses largely Western contexts and shows that although LGBTIQ+ people enjoy legal protections within many Western nations, schools remain dominated by heteronormativity. A major concern for LGBTIQ+ teachers is whether or not to come out at work—this means disclosing one’s gender and/or sexual identity to staff and/or students. In addition, working in schools as a LGBTIQ+ teacher is difficult because it often involves negotiating private and professional worlds in ways that heterosexual and cisgender teachers do not. There remain absences in the work on/with/about LGBTIQ+ teachers, with gender diverse, trans*, and bisexual teachers particularly underrepresented within the literature in the field. Most research on/with/about LGBTIQ+ teachers under discussion here is located within North America, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and Australia.

Article

Malay Philosophies of Education  

Rosnani Hashim

Malay philosophies of education refer to the educational thoughts of Malay philosophers from the period of the Islamization of the Malay world in the 13th century up to the present. Malay refers to an ethnic group with the Malay language as the major language of communication. The Malay world refers to the region in Southeast Asia comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, southern Thailand, pockets of Indo-China (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia), and the southern Philippines. Prior to the introduction of Islam to the region in the 13th century, the Malay people were influenced by Hinduism, and some remnants of Hindu practices such as the conduct of the wedding ceremony and yellow being the color of royalty are still visible today. Islamization revolutionized the Malay worldview with a new ontology, cosmology, and monotheism. Moreover, the Malay language was elevated as a scientific and literary language and became a lingua franca that was widely used for communication, while Jawi script (Arabic) was used in writing, such that the region became known as the Malay world. Malay philosophies of education are very intricately related to Islamic philosophy or the Islamic worldview. Hamka, a 20th century Indonesian scholar, states that his Malayness is totally integrated with Islamic elements. Thus, the Malays’ understanding of Islam determines the goals of education. Historically, the goals of Malay education developed from the focus on the hereafter and sufism due to the nature of Islam received by the Malays at this particular time. Al-Ghazali, al-Shafie, and al-Ash’ari were among the scholars who exerted great influence on Malay scholarship. The philosophy of Malay education changed as a result of colonization by Western powers that established schools offering a liberal, secular education. However, contact with Muslim reformers in Egypt, specifically Muhammad Abduh, led to the reform of Islamic traditional schools. Hence, there was a shift in focus to reason, philosophy, and science with a closer reading of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and the goals of education emphasized the study of the acquired sciences and the use of reason. As a consequence, there were many efforts to change the existing educational institutions in terms of their curriculum. Finally, after independence, attempts were made to integrate the dualistic educational system—liberal, secular public school and traditional, religious schools—through an educational philosophy and curriculum that is holistic, integrated, and balanced, but that is also faith-based. It is not adequate to have both the acquired and revealed sciences merely coexisting but compartmentalized in the curriculum, for their values may still be conflicting. Thus, the concept of the Islamization of contemporary knowledge was deliberated and subsequently attempted. This is the climax of the unity of knowledge that is enshrined in the Islamic worldview. The educational landscape in the Malay world has been shaped by the thought patterns of Muslim scholars and the Islamic worldview.

Article

Masculinities and School Gun Violence in the United States  

Samantha Deane

Schools are sites of personal, political, and symbolic violence. In the United States acts of rampage school gun violence, themselves symbolic, are connected to acts of personal violence via the inscription of social gender norms. Carried out by White teenage boys rampage school shootings call us to grapple with the ways in which schools form and discipline gendered subjectivities. Central to the field of masculinity studies is R. W. Connell’s theory of masculinity which draws on a Gramscian theory of hegemony rather than a Foucauldian theory of power. Whereas Gramsci focuses the ways in which power moves down, Foucault studies the impact of small interaction on our subjective sense of self. When addressing the phenomena of rampage school gun violence where White teenage boys target their schools in acts of gendered rage, a Foucauldian theory of power helps us to take seriously the significance of everyday interaction in legitimating gendered ontologies. Jointly Foucault and the contemporary works of Jane Roland Martin, Amy Shuffelton, and Michel Kimmel point towards an avenue that may afford us the opportunity to root out practices and environments wedded to hegemonic masculinity (and thus rampage school gun violence): the everyday celebration of gender-inclusive and egalitarian ways of learning and living.

Article

Open-Mindedness and Education  

Susan Verducci

Open-mindedness disposes us to value and seek truth, knowledge, and understanding by taking a particular stance toward ourselves, what we know, new information, and experience. It aims to improve our epistemic standing, both individually and socially. Widely accepted as a valuable educational aim, scholarship on the nature and extent of open-mindedness’ epistemological and civic value is growing. Epistemological conceptions range from its role in rational inquiry to thinking of it as an attitude toward one’s self as a knower, or as an attitude toward individual beliefs. Conversations on its status as an intellectual virtue, its associations with personal transformation, and its role in aesthetic experiences are also on the rise. Of particular note for schooling are its connections to democratic citizenship. Theorists argue that open-mindedness operates in respecting others, tolerating differences in pluralistic contexts, and exercising autonomy. Central challenges to its value, however, abound. They include the difficulty of pinpointing the line between open-mindedness and gullibility, and the ways that human cognitive limitations make open-mindedness more aspirational than possible. Its incompatibility with holding strong commitments serve as some of the most relevant challenges to its value. Are there any ideas or beliefs that we ought not be open-minded about? And if (and when) there are, can open-mindedness support structures of power and/or oppressive forces? Additional challenges come from those who explore how open-mindedness fares in posttruth and postfact conditions. The educational discourse on open-mindedness shows that its objects, occasions, and processes have expanded over time and in response to new understandings of historical, social, and cultural conditions. In this light, educational philosophers may no longer be theorizing about a singular phenomenon with a set of agreed upon characteristics. Instead, open-mindedness may have become a constellation of related and overlapping epistemological phenomena with similar features, much like what Ludwig Wittgenstein calls family resemblances. If so, this constellation requires a conceptual framework, such as the one Jürgen Habermas laid out in Knowledge and Human Interests, to provide open-mindedness with theoretical and educational coherence. Despite the growing incoherence of thinking about open-mindedness as a singular phenomenon, most educational theorists maintain a fundamental commitment to open-mindedness as an educational aim. Regardless of whether one considers open-mindedness to have essential characteristics, to be a constellation of epistemic phenomena with Wittgensteinian family resemblances, and/or a concept in search of a singular framework (such as Habermas’s), much of the educational discourse on open-mindedness will likely continue to be maintained as it improves our epistemic, moral, and civic standing. This line of thinking assumes and suggests that we simply need to educate for the right orientation, the right attitude, the right sort of openness, and the right skills to attain these goods. However, increasing exploration of the political nature of open-mindedness and emerging perspectives from critical theory seem to be coalescing into a second strand of counterdialogue. Examination of “the goodness” of open-mindedness in contexts of oppression, intolerance, closed-mindedness, and posttruth/postfact conditions provide increasingly serious challenges to open-mindedness’ secure status as an educational aim.

Article

Transnational Curriculum Studies  

Seungho Moon

Transnational curriculum studies (TCS) examines the fluid dynamics of knowledge creation, knowledge circulation, and knowledge representation across nation-state borders. It challenges the rigid architectures of state power and brings local concerns to the global context such as antiracist pedagogy and climate change issues. At the same time, TCS opens spaces for collaborative study of the same curriculum issues across nation-states from multiple perspectives. Curriculum scholars have extended scholarship to respond to various sociopolitical, cultural movements. Issues studied include human rights, recognition, and epistemicide through a framework that emphasizes hybrid identities and power operations across nation-states. Feminist postcolonial scholars within this field also highlight unequal power operations among nation-states, particularly for “marginalized” communities. They interrogate discourse on equity, power, and exploitation as a consequence of transnationalism. TCS scholars critically examine important questions on recolonization of knowledge through Eurocentric, patriarchal ideologies and the social reproduction of knowledge through curriculum. They also incorporate Indigenous approaches to knowledge learning and dissemination with the support of transnational curriculum inquiry. Key issues in TCS include global inequity and postcolonial discourse in transnationalism, transnational subjectivity and identity discourse, and epistemicide in curriculum and integration of Indigenous knowledge. Future directions for TCS arise from ontological, pedagogical, and methodological issues, which include collaborating with those in the field of border studies as physical and metaphorical spaces in research, linguistic issues in academic communities, and transnational curriculum studies for social actions and transformation. TCS contributes to opening space in curriculum theorizing to draw from multiple ways of knowing, including Indigenous epistemologies.

Article

A Critical Examination of Mathematics Curriculum Studies  

Theodore Savich, Evan Marquise Taylor, and Craig Willey

Where does one enact boundaries for what can be known systematically? Is mathematics one branch of knowledge, separate from, say, social justice or chemistry, or is it possible to understand mathematics, justice, and the physical sciences within one system of knowing? Early Habermas provides a typology of human interests that constitute different knowledge types, beginning with the empirical or analytic, traversing the hermeneutic or historical, and terminating with critical or emancipatory knowledge. Brandom’s reconstruction of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit describes three responsibilities that are the norms for systematicity as well as an “algebra of normativity,” which is a “mathematical” way of understanding recognitive communities. The stories that those recognitive communities tell and retell are curricula. Although Habermas is primarily understood as a sociologist, critical or emancipatory knowledge is very much about the unity of being and knowing that occurs within individuals as they act intentionally in the world, reflect on those actions, and become more through the process of self-actualization. This notion of criticality is more or less absent from mathematics education discourses but is a powerful organizing thread from Kant through Hegel, to Habermas. Instead, most mathematics educators are concerned with critical theory as it pertains to social critique, centering social justice through critical race theory, critical disabilities studies and other critical theories. The tension between understanding emancipation at the level of individuals compared with political emancipation of marginalized groups enforces an ambiguity about who is being emancipated, what they are being emancipated from, and what role mathematics plays as either liberating or oppressive. Moreover, this tension is related to deep epistemological questions about how people come to know and repeat anything at all.

Article

The Affective Turn in Educational Theory  

Michalinos Zembylas

The “affective turn” in the humanities and social sciences has developed some of the most innovative and productive theoretical ideas in recent years, bringing together psychoanalytically informed theories of subjectivity and subjection, theories of the body and embodiment, and political theories and critical analysis. Although there are clearly different approaches in the affective turn that range from psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, (post-)Deleuzian perspectives, theories of the body, and embodiment to affective politics, there is a substantial turn to the intersections of the social, cultural, and political with the psychic and the unconscious. The affective turn, then, marks a shift in thought in critical theory through an exploration of the complex interrelations of discursive practices, the human body, social and cultural forces, and individually experienced but historically situated affects and emotions. Work in this area has become known as “critical emotion studies” or “critical affect studies.” Just as in other disciplinary areas, there has been a huge surge of interest in education concerning the study of affect and emotion. Affect and emotion have appeared and reappeared in educational theory and practice over the past several decades through a variety of theoretical lenses. For psychologists working with theories of cognition, for example, the meaning of these terms is very different compared to that of a sociologist or philosopher using social or political theories of power. In general, psychologists investigate emotional states and their impact on the body and mind/cognition, whereas “affect” is a much broader term denoting modes of influence, movement, intensity, and change. Within these two meanings—a more psychologized notion focused on the “emotions” as these are usually understood and a more wider perspective on “affect” highlighting difference, process, and force—the affective turn in education expands our thinking and research by attempting to enrich our understanding of how teachers and students are moved, what inspires or pains them, how feelings and memories play into teaching and learning. The affective turn, then, is a particular and particularly focused set of ideas well worth considering, especially because it enables power critiques of various kinds. What the affective turn contributes to education and other disciplines is that it draws attention to the entanglement of affects and emotions with everyday life in new ways. More importantly, the affective turn creates important ethical, political, and pedagogical openings in educators’ efforts to make transformative interventions in educational spaces.

Article

Camus and Tragedy in Education  

Andrew Gibbons

Tragedy is a central theme in the work of Albert Camus that speaks to his 46 years of life in “interesting times.” He develops a case for the tragic arts across a series of letters, articles, lectures, short stories, and novels. In arguing for the tragic arts, he reveals an epic understanding of the tensions between individual and world manifest in the momentum of liberalism, humanism, and modernism. The educational qualities of the tragic arts are most explicitly explored in his novel The Plague, in which the proposition that the plague is a teacher engages Camus in an exploration of the grand narratives of progress and freedom, and the intimate depths of ignorance and heroism. In the novel The Outsider Camus explores the tragedy of difference in a society obsessed with the production of a normal citizen. The tragedy manifests the absurdity of the world in which a stranger in this world is compelled to support the system that rejects their subjectivity. In The Myth of Sisyphus Camus produces an essay on absurdity and suicide that toys with the illusion of Progress and the grounds for a well-lived life. Across these texts, and through his collection of letters, articles, and notes, Camus invites an educational imagination. His approach to study of the human condition in and through tragedy offers a narrative to challenge the apparent absence of imagination in educational systems and agendas. Following Camus, the tragic arts offer alternative narratives during the interesting times of viral and environment tragedy.