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Challenging the Nature—Culture Binary Through Urban Environmental Education  

Marijke Hecht

Environmental conditions facing our local and global communities in the early 21st-century demand an urgent shift in education toward fostering healthy multispecies communities through stronger relationships between human and more-than-human beings. Environmental education, which has long pushed for interdisciplinary pedagogies that connect people and place, is well positioned to serve this aim. However, for the field to continue to develop and meet the challenges of the 21st century, it needs to address its roots as an outgrowth of science education where entrenched Eurocentric perspectives, such as human exceptionalism and the persistence of a nature–culture binary, are pervasive. These perspectives contribute significantly to the ongoing extraction of natural resources and degradation of habitats, which are tied to pressing environmental issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss. For environmental education to effectively impact learning in ways that lead toward a lasting protection of people and the planet, the field must be more critical of its roots and practices. Urban environmental education, which takes place where the majority of people live globally and in landscapes where humans and more-than-human beings are in close proximity, has the potential to challenge existing practices and continue to grow the field. Rethinking the nature–culture binary and the insistence on human exceptionalism are necessary for transformational improvements to the local landscape and planetary health. Two existing approaches that can support field-level change are critical place-based and Indigenous L/land-based pedagogies, which are drawn from different traditions but both support the transformation of relations between human and more-than-human beings. However, this requires an interrogation of if and/or how non-Indigenous scholars might take up Indigenous philosophies and pedagogies respectfully and ethically.

Article

Critical Perspectives on Positive Youth Development and Environmental Education  

Marianne E. Krasny, Tania M. Schusler, Jesse Delia, Anne Katherine Armstrong, and Lilly Briggs

Positive youth development (PYD) assumes that, when given appropriate support, all youth have the capacity to develop the assets that enable them to succeed in life. Such assets include competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution to community, otherwise known as the six Cs of PYD. Environmental education (EE) programs that focus on youth action and empowerment offer the support needed for youth to develop these assets. Youth after-school, summer, and residential programs, often serving low-income and minoritized youth, increasingly are using environmental action and learning as a means to achieve PYD outcomes. Yet both PYD and EE have been criticized for not addressing the root causes of poverty and environmental degradation. In response, critical traditions in PYD and EE have emerged, in which youth reflect and act on structural barriers to human and environmental well-being in their communities. As youth and their mentors seek to address systemic inequities impacting themselves and their environment, they develop additional “Critical Positive Youth Development/Environmental Education” assets including critical reflection, efficacy, the ability to take collective action, and community-level empowerment.

Article

Curriculum Development  

Dominic Wyse and Yana Manyukhina

The word curriculum refers to the planned activities and experiences that education systems organize for students to help them achieve learning goals that are usually specified at national, school, and classroom levels. Within the realm of the discipline of education, curriculum represents a distinctive field of study in which a key debate has been about the best approaches to curriculum design and delivery. Various kinds of research, such as experimental trials, qualitative research, and comparative analyses, have been employed to analyze and attempt to optimize curricula and associated pedagogies. Philosophical thinking about the purposes of education has also been central to these debates. An important topic in curriculum study is the extent to which learner-centered approaches, which emphasize the needs and interests of individual learners while addressing broader societal aspirations for education, are appropriate. Learner-centered curricula necessitate pedagogies that allow for differentiated, personalized, and meaningful learning experiences that can accommodate learners’ prior experiences and their interests.

Article

Fostering Indigenous Educational Sovereignty in the Navajo Nation  

Jon Reyhner and Joseph Martin

After a long history of U.S. government efforts to take away their independence, culture, and language, since the 1970s the Diné (aka Navajos) have been working through their elected leaders to re-establish their sovereignty and pursuit of self-determination on their terms, including decolonizing the education their children receive in schools. This process has occurred through the strengthening of their elected government, establishing an education division, and adopting educational and accreditation standards that promote the teaching of Diné government, history, and language so that Diné citizens can knowledgeably exercise their democratic rights of self-government. This is important because it has a powerful influence in schools as it defines the important elements of a school and the manner in which Navajo school community members operate. These efforts are part of a global Indigenous movement, leading the United Nations to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 and UNESCO to declare 2022–2032 the International Decade of Indigenous Languages.

Article

Interpreting and Using Basil Bernstein’s Sociology of Education  

Henry Kwok and Parlo Singh

For four decades, Basil Bernstein developed a distinct and original contribution to the sociology of education. Despite his death in 2000, Bernstein’s theories still attract attention, not just in the United Kingdom, but all over the world, beyond Anglophone academic circuits. Yet, his work is sometimes regarded as too theoretical with minor significance to current educational issues and problems. Is Bernstein’s sociological theory relevant to the challenges of the 21st century? How should his work and research approach be understood and better utilized? While not claiming an orthodox interpretation, we do suggest that three crucial principles should underpin any engagement with t Bernstein’s theory for educational research. First, the researcher’s encounter with a specific problem in empirical reality is pivotal. Concepts which carry sociological sensibilities should be assembled around the problem. Second, while Bernstein has developed a bewildering array of concepts, it is better to use them lightly, for the sake of a more accurate description of complex, open, dynamic social systems such as education and schooling. Third, the gaze of Bernstein’s sociological theory is relational not only towards the object of inquiry but also to other theoretical frameworks. This relational gaze means that the theory can be used to dialogue with other theories as well as open dynamic social systems. Such relational capacities enable the theory to grow through the refinement and extension of existing concepts and the introduction of additional concepts. Three examples of research drawing upon these principles are provided as an illustration.

Article

Multiliteracies in Teacher Education  

Tala Michelle Karkar Esperat

Multiliteracies is an inclusive literacy approach that extends traditional print-based literacy (reading and writing) to integrate a wide range of modes of communication. These modes of communication include linguistic (words, text, speech), visual (images, pictures, video, color), audio (music, sounds), spatial (placement, location), gestural (movement, sensuality), and synesthesia (multimodal design). In addition to communication modes, multiliteracies integrates technologies (e.g., new literacies; digital media) in the classroom and is characterized by four pedagogical practices (situated practice, overt instruction, critical framing, and transformed practice) and cultural and social practices. Multiliteracies in teacher education includes the understanding of nature, theory, and pedagogical practices to inform curriculum decisions to meet the needs of all students. The concept of multiliteracies was developed as a new approach to literacy pedagogy by the New London Group in 1996. This provides a pedagogical space for learners to interact with information by using different modes of text forms to accommodate language, culture, context, and social effects to connect to the local and global world. Since the constitution of multiliteracies (1996–2024), the conversation of adopting multiliteracies as a pedagogical approach has evolved to identify the need for urgent and equitable educational change. It advocates for multilingual students’ learning experiences using modalities that support their individual learning. One way to ensure this is using tangible tools in teacher preparation, such as the pedagogical holistic model of the new literacies framework and pedagogical content knowledge of the multiliteracies survey instrument, which allow preservice teachers to continue to reflect on their teaching delivery. Educators use multiliteracies in the classroom to engage students in learning, embrace students’ diverse cultures, and help students form their identities. Multiliteracies education can be used as a tool for the empowerment of marginalized students. It supports the development of multimodal literacy skills and enables learners to communicate their identities in authentic ways, which fosters a more inclusive and equitable society. Multiliteracies aims to promote social justice through education, inspiring learners to think critically and become active participants in understanding the world by engaging in dialogue, developing more profound understanding, and appreciating other cultures. The use of multiliteracies is crucial in the diverse classroom. Teacher education programs must respond to the growing need by addressing the following questions: What do preservice teachers need to know about multiliteracies? Why do preservice teachers need to adopt multiliteracies? How can multiliteracies be used to prepare preservice teachers to integrate multiliteracies in multilingual classrooms?

Article

Reimagining Arabic in Islamic Schools  

Nadia Selim

Islamic schools have become a noticeable feature of the educational landscapes of multicultural, English-dominant, Muslim-minority contexts like Australia and the United Kingdom. The number of Islamic schools has progressively increased since the 1980s, and the growing nongovernmental Islamic schooling sector caters to several thousands of diverse Muslim learners. Islamic schools are key providers of K–12 Arabic learning with great potential for promoting Arabic language learning innovation and research. While Arabic provisions in Islamic schools are not fully understood due to research paucity, some emergent findings with adolescent research participants suggest that dissonance arises between learners’ goals and interests and the nature of their programs. The contemporary realities of Muslim learners of Arabic and Arabic programs at Islamic schools can result in dissonance, and using a whole-school approach that promotes an Arabic-integrated ethos could help in bridging the gaps between students and their Arabic language education.

Article

Religious Liberty in American Public Higher Education  

William E. Thro

A state college or university, through its administrators and, in some contexts, its faculty and students, is a constitutional actor. This statement surprises many who work in public higher education. Because students, staff, faculty members, and visitors retain their constitutional rights, those who act on behalf of public colleges and universities are constitutional actors, the paramount duty is to obey the Constitution. The constitutional obligations trump other duties under statutes, regulations, guidance documents, union agreements, internal policies, and faculty rules. Because they are flawed human beings, university administrators are no more or no less virtuous than other governmental actors are. Like other government officials, higher education administrators may pursue their own interests at the expense of the public interests, may reward their friends and punish their enemies, and may subordinate the constitutional rights of others to their own well-intentioned policy objectives. Constitutional conflict and constitutional litigation are inevitable. Like government officials outside of academe, a public college or university’s constitutional actors must ensure their own behavior conforms to the Constitution while striving to ensure their colleagues also comply. Although constitutional conflicts for public universities arise in many contexts, disputes involving the “first freedom” of religious liberty are quite common. Americans are a religious people and, while they differ on fundamental theological questions, there is a broad consensus around the existence of a higher power. Consequently, their government’s foundational documents explicitly acknowledge the unalienable right of religious liberty. This acknowledgment takes the form of the Establishment Clause, which prevents the government from favoring a particular faith, and the Free Exercise Clause, which prohibits government interference with religious practice.

Article

Skepticism and Education  

Yuya Takeda and Itamar Manoff

Skepticism is a stance that is both called for and warned against in the public discourse in general, and in education in particular. Although the size of the educational literature dedicated to this topic is limited, the importance of cultivating skepticism has been discussed by a number of critically oriented researchers. When skepticism is discussed as a desirable trait for education to cultivate, this recommendation nonetheless comes with cautionary adjectives like “healthy,” “constructive,” and “hopeful.” These adjectives suggest that the desirability of skepticism is a matter of degree: Pushed to the extreme, skepticism becomes unhealthy, naïve, destructive, and dismissive. This makes intuitive sense, but with a spirit of skepticism, the following question is posed—when is it necessary to judge whether a particular enactment of skepticism is healthy or not? It is important to explore different vocabularies to enliven educational conversations on skepticism. At different historical junctures, skepticism manifests with different emphasis and orientations: from the ancient attitude associated with the figure of Pyrrho, in which skepticism is a means to achieve the goal of ataraxia, to the epistemological project initiated by Descartes, and taken to its logical endpoint by Hume, that raises a generalized, global doubt of our ability to attain knowledge. More recently, there have been two anti-foundationalist responses to skepticism: one by Richard Rorty and another by Stanley Cavell. Although their diagnoses of philosophical skepticism do not differ substantially, Rorty and Cavell diverge significantly in their response to it: While Rorty turns it into a futile project, Cavell takes it as an inevitable crisis for finite linguistic beings. A juxtaposition of their widely different responses provides a useful set of vocabulary for nuanced treatment of skepticism in education.

Article

Current Trends and Directions in Socioscientific Issues Education Research  

Aswathy Raveendran

References to socioscientific issues (SSIs) in science education research literature can be traced back to the 1980s. With a focus on introducing students to SSIs or issues with conceptual or technological links to science, the SSI movement aims to foster skills for democratic citizenship in students. This entails understanding the ethical and political complexities involved in these technoscientific controversies, the nature of the evidence involved and arriving at one’s own position on these issues. Two major approaches characterize research in the field of SSI education—the sociocultural and sociopolitical approaches, which differ in their assumptions and methodological approaches. While both approaches are concerned about issues of democratic citizenship and teaching skills to engage SSIs, they differ in their overarching emphasis on sociopolitical actions. The literature on SSIs raises questions on citizenship and how it is theorized in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education research as well as whether schools are meaningful spaces where students can engage with SSIs. It is also important to carefully deliberate on what meaningful sociopolitical actions entail. Future SSI research needs to focus on the issue of navigating SSIs in the affective space of the classroom where complex power-ridden relationalities play out between teacher and students. There is also a necessity for the SSI movement to engage with questions of contextualization and politicization of the STEM curriculum as a whole.