Research on schools has long been central to the development of institutional theory. Scholars from the tradition now labeled “old institutionalism” used historical case studies of educational institutions to examine how organizations pursue social values and how those values and the organization change in the process. The subsequent shift to new institutionalism entailed a more macro-level approach, as scholars began to view schools as organizations nested within a broader field or environment. Instead of analyzing how organizations pursue values, new institutionalists examine how organizations conform to macro cultural “myths” or “logics” to maintain legitimacy in their respective fields. For instance, national and global education reforms compel schools to adopt remarkably similar organizational forms, despite the diverse needs of schools and their divergent practices. Inhabited institutionalism, which explores the recursive relationships among institutions, organizations, and social interactions, provides a consolidated approach and incorporates a symbolic interactionist lens to examine the meaning and implications of institutions at a more local level. Educational settings have been important sites of empirical investigation in the development of inhabited institutionalism, specifically by showing how schools incorporate cultural mythologies such as “accountability” in context-specific ways.
Sociological Institutionalism and Education Scholarship
Callie Cleckner and Tim Hallett
Twenty-First-Century Learning Spaces and Pedagogical Change
Twenty-first-century learning spaces are designed to enable students to develop the skills and dispositions required for uncertain and transformed futures. They are characterized by flexibility and openness, with architectural and technological features that allow for variable arrangements and digitally enhanced learning. Flexibility is achieved through the provision of features such as sliding doors, moveable furniture, open spaces, and smaller breakout rooms, which may be used by teachers and students in different ways. The flexibility and openness of these spaces are considered to enhance the collaborative, self-directed and inquiry- or project-based learning that are regarded as crucial for an education that prepares students for work and citizenship in the 21st century. The integration of networked digital tools and applications is a key aspect of 21st-century learning spaces and of the pedagogical changes that shape and are shaped by these spaces. Sociomaterial theoretical perspectives offer a way of interpreting and analyzing 21st-century learning spaces in relation to pedagogical change. The flexibility of these spaces is implicated in the flexibility of pedagogical approaches, and the opportunities for movement and varied arrangements in physical and digital spaces are correspondent with the self-managing, digitally literate learner. Links between learning spaces that are flexible, open, and digitally networked and the pedagogies enacted in those spaces have been the subject of empirical studies in Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, Scandinavia, the United States, and New Zealand. These studies illustrate the importance of considering theoretical perspectives in research that investigates pedagogical change and learning space design.
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.
Theater, Drama, Education, and Pasifika Youth in Aotearoa New Zealand
Pasifika people constitute a young, diverse, and growing portion of the population of Aotearoa New Zealand, with multiple cultural identities originating in the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tuvalu, Tahiti, and Kiribati. Pasifika people are also subject to both new and historical disparities in income, employment, education, housing, and health in comparison with other ethnic groups. Significantly, education in Aotearoa continues to fail Pasifika youth, reporting a persistent long brown tail of underachievement in standards-based assessment. Multiple government interventions have been implemented to address these increasing disparities, but these have been ineffective in achieving the widespread systemic change necessary for true equity. Pasifika youth are regularly required to code-switch between Western colonial worldviews, systems, and structures and those of indigenous-Oceania. Theater in Aotearoa provides a powerful site in which to navigate these multiple cultural identities, advocate for societal change, and negotiate the heritage literacies associated with storytelling and the performing arts. South Auckland, in particular, is a crucible for nurturing young Pasifika creative artists interested in re-storying their world.
Restorative Justice in Education
Kristin Elaine Reimer and Crystena Parker-Shandal
Restorative justice in education (RJE) is a philosophical framework that centers relationships in schools, calls attention to issues of justice and equity, and provides processes to heal harm and transform conflict. The use of restorative justice (RJ) in schools gained large-scale attention from teachers and school boards since the 2010s. In the 1990s and early 2000s many school boards around the world took up what was generally known as “zero tolerance” approaches. It meant that punitive responses, such as suspension, expulsion, and exclusionary practices, were used by administrators and teachers more readily and frequently. Research continues to show that exclusionary punishments are harmful—especially to Indigenous students, students of color, and other marginalized students—in many ways, for example, increasing dropout rates, decreasing overall student achievement, and strengthening the school-to-prison pipeline. Gaining more momentum in the 2010s (although practiced by many teachers and communities before this), RJ approaches became a way to challenge a system that was simply not working and further harming students. Many educators and school boards saw RJE as a means to reduce suspensions and expulsions and to increase their graduation rates. Others have seen RJE as a critical process for facilitating school equity and racial justice. This continuum of approaches to RJE impacts how research is conducted, what research questions are asked, who is included in the research process, and how it is disseminated. While some researchers still position RJE as solely an alternative to punitive disciplinary models, an increasing number of researchers view RJE as a paradigm shift for how people relate to one another in the context of schools, including through relational approaches to pedagogy. This relational way of being centers people’s humanity and promotes shared accountability within learning communities.
Freedom and Education Revisited
There is an influential and highly diverse tradition of philosophers and philosophically inclined educational theorists who argue that education should aim at freedom, indeed that education, properly understood, is the practice of freedom. On the one hand, there is the movement that neither commences nor ends with John Dewey (active during the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century), but of which Dewey’s philosophy of education is the neuralgic point. On the other hand, there is the movement, inspired to some extent by Dewey but quite distinct from it, launched by Paulo Freire in the second half of the 20th century—known as critical pedagogy. Freire and his followers—bell hooks and Henry Giroux, among them—explicitly claim that education is the practice of freedom and think of this practice as emancipatory in its aims. Dewey never explicitly describes education as the practice of freedom, but Richard Rorty, one of Dewey’s most influential followers, does so, and he correctly attributes the view to Dewey.
Dialogic Education and Jacques Rancière
Don Carter and Gregory Martin
Collectively, terms such as dialogic education and dialogic teaching are used both interchangeably and pervasively in education contexts. No single agreed-upon definition exists for dialogic or combinations of terms such as dialogic instruction and dialogic pedagogy. However, such terms are inclusive of a desire to promote meaningful classroom dialogue where students learn to reason, discuss, argue, and explain; to develop higher order thinking skills; and to transform the world around them. Importantly, dialogue as a type of exchange between individuals or groups draws upon and is expressed through the rich legacies of numerous cultures. For example, literature points to diverse texts and traditions in India and China, continuing cultural practices of “yarning” and “talking circles” in First Nations contexts, the dialogues of Plato and Socrates, as well as more contemporary models in the Western tradition. Unfortunately, Western models of dialogue enjoy a dominance that has marginalized and eroded the value of “other” cultural traditions as well as the diverse ontologies and epistemologies that give rise to them. Under this set of circumstances, Western models of dialogue have been complicit with Eurocentrism, which may also present itself in the form of paternalism within the context of teacher and student relationships. As a counterpoint, the work of the French philosopher Jacques Rancière has been drawn upon to disrupt the logic of Western models of education, including those that claim to be critical or “emancipatory.” Rancière’s approach represents a departure from normative conceptions of dialogue because it promotes the presupposition of equality between the student and teacher. In Rancière’s conception of education, the elevation of student to co-learner is reinforced by both the teacher’s and the student’s focus on an external artifact—a book or text, for example—which provides the intellectual stimulus for student investigation and dilutes the teacher’s traditional authority as the “master.” In this way, Rancière is able to complement the aims and features of dialogic education and extend it by casting the student as the intellectual equal of the teacher.
Slow Violence and Schooling
The concept of slow violence has broadened understandings of violence in ways that capture its spatial and temporal complexity, and that draw attention to its often-hidden operation. Since the 1960s and 1970s scholars of schooling and education have asked questions about power relations, inequalities, and injustices in schools, and in the early 21st century have turned their attention to affect and materiality. Although its conceptual predecessor, structural violence, has informed past education research, slow violence has not been widely taken up. This article explores the concept of slow violence, considering its relevance and use for education scholars concerned with the various mundane forms of violence enacted in schools, sometimes unintentionally, and often unnoticed. While the concept of slow violence is useful for thinking about everyday violence in this way, its real strength as a concept is lifted to view when considered in relation with affect in schooling and education.
Engineering Education and Social Justice
Jon A. Leydens, Juan C. Lucena, and Donna M. Riley
Engineering education and social (in)justice are connected in complex ways. Research indicates that while issues of social (in)justice are inherent in engineering practice, they are often invisible in engineering education. The mechanism by which social justice is rendered invisible involves mindsets and ideologies in engineering and engineering education. Hence, innovative strategies and practices need to address these mindsets and ideologies, rendering social justice visible in engineering education. Imagined future scenarios for social justice in engineering education indicate how social justice could be readily marginalized or accentuated, with accompanying detriments or benefits.
Evangelical Christian School Movement
Vance Everett Nichols
Education founded on belief in Jesus Christ and grounded in the teachings of the Scriptures began in the 1st century. In the ensuing two millennia, Christ-centric forms of education proliferated, with three distinguishable movements arising during that time: The Early Church Christian Schools period (70-590 ce), The Reformation Christian Schools period (1517-1850), and The Associated Christian Schools period (1950-present). Nearly 1,000 years after the conclusion of the first movement, the second movement was birthed, in Europe. Impacted by leading theologians and academics who preceded him, such as John Wycliffe, John Huss, and William Tyndale, Martin Luther led a seismic theological and educational paradigm shift that transformed much of how the Western world thought, with biblically based education as a centerpiece. A hundred years after the end of the second movement, the present movement arose, emerging in the United States. Although evangelical Christian schools have faced significant challenges in the early years of the 21st century—including inconsistent school leadership, economic pressures and uncertainty, accelerating cultural changes, the global COVID-19 pandemic, repetitive inaction at the school-site level to deal with organizational dangers and warning signs, a subsequent crisis of school closures in the United States, wars and civil unrest in diverse places (including the Russian invasion of Ukraine), and violence and repeated threats of violence aimed specifically against Christian schools on campuses outside of North America (particularly in regions of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East)—the movement has nevertheless remained resilient and influential in both the United States and abroad.