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Practice Architectures  

Christine Edwards-Groves and Peter Grootenboer

The theory of practice architectures has been emerging in common parlance in qualitative research investigating the nature and conduct of education (and other) practices since it was first introduced in 2008. The theory was developed to capitalize on “the practice turn” in social life and organizational activity. Since its inception, the theory of practice architectures has become an influential and widely utilized theory, among the broad family of practice theories focused on the social, cultural, and material world. The theory has been taken up in many countries and in many fields—including education, health, agriculture, environmental science, and business—legitimizing it as a robust way to conceptualize the sociality, situatedness, and happeningness of practices associated with participating in the social world. As a basic premise, the theory of practice architectures attests that in everyday life- and system-worlds, practices are existentially dynamic, socially constituted, intersubjective activities that are always influenced by practice architectures. Practice architectures are the enabling and constraining conditions that influence what happens among interlocutors as they encounter one another in practices. Understanding practices means attending to ways the intricately interconnected and simultaneously produced sayings, doings, and relatings “hang together” in a project through individual (or subjective) and intersubjective achievements. It is in intersubjective spaces where • what people can say and think (sayings), in the semantic space shared among interlocutors, is made possible (or difficult or impossible) by the cultural–discursive arrangements found in or brought to a site—that is, by the content and form of shared (or not shared) language and specialist discourses used; • what people can do (doings), in the physical space-time shared with other embodied beings, is made possible (or not) by the material–economic arrangements—that is, by actions, activities, and work done amid the objects that exist in the site; and • how people can relate to others and the world (relatings), in the social space shared with other social–political beings, is made possible (or not) by the social–political arrangements—that is, by the relationships of power, agency, and solidarity. Establishing a deep sense of site is critical for understanding the nature and particularity of practices and practice architectures that shape how education is experienced (produced and reproduced) in the site. The site ontological schematic counters oversimplified or ambiguous perspectives by orienting to the complex linguistic, cultural, interactive, material, temporal, social, and relational constitution of practices as they happen in the local site. By establishing more nuanced site-based understandings, detailed descriptions, and critical explanations about the conditions that prefigure (although do not predetermine) the conduct of practices, transformations to those practices are possible. Consequently, the theory of practice architectures has been described as a transformative resource—because to change education, one must change the practice architectures that enable and constrain its practices. Broadly speaking, therefore, the theory of practice architectures is an integrated theoretical (way of considering), analytical (way of examining), linguistic (way of describing), and transformative (way of changing) resource or frame for studying practices.


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.


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.


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.


The Philosophy of Mathematics Education  

Catherine Henney and Kurt Stemhagen

The philosophy of mathematics education (PoME) is a field of inquiry that pursues questions arising from the long tradition of mathematics as a school subject. An integrated area of study, PoME draws on other established disciplines such as philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of education. However, propositions and theses within PoME also have implications for the theory and practice of mathematics education. Rather than actively blurring boundaries among contributory disciplines, PoME is a subdiscipline that reflects their inherent interdependence. Many of PoME’s core questions address the very nature of mathematics, how we come to learn it, and the historical and contemporary aims of mathematics education. Though not the first to address these individual lines of inquiry, Paul Ernest’s The Philosophy of Mathematics Education (1991) may be regarded as PoME’s inaugural text. His landmark publication also demonstrated how philosophical inquiry may guide critical analysis of educational practices and policies. Questions about what mathematics is are not disentangled from those about its teaching and learning. Thus, PoME demonstrates a kind of internal elasticity: how we answer one question has a bearing on how we might answer another. For example, is mathematics something “found” or “made”? The perception of mathematics—how we tend to characterize its nature—can underscore beliefs about mathematics pedagogy. The view of mathematics as a cultural construct (rather than an absolute body of knowledge and related skills) likely dovetails with a constructivist pedagogical approach. But at the same time, such a view of mathematics may encounter ideological tension, if not outright resistance, in sociopolitical arenas. Reconceptualizing mathematics and mathematics education may be considered philosophical endeavors that challenge dominant assumptions and build frameworks with the potential to make mathematics fundamentally more inclusive. The story of PoME is the story of its genesis, its role in imagining a more equitable and humanistic school math experience, and the need to make room for new, alternative approaches and viewpoints that honor the radical spirit in which PoME was developed.


Sociological Institutionalism and Education Scholarship  

Callie Cleckner and Tim Hallett

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.


Critical Digital Pedagogy in the Platform Society  

Earl Aguilera and Christina Salazar

The term “critical digital pedagogy” has been used to describe a broad range of approaches to teaching and learning rooted in critical theory, digital cultural studies, and the liberatory education promoted within schools of critical pedagogy since the 1960s. References to critical digital pedagogy began to appear in published scholarly literature in the early 2000s as a response to the expansion of neoliberal ideologies and policies in an age of proliferating digital and networked technologies. These shifts in technological, economic, and social organization have since become collectively described as the “platformization” of society, driven by processes such as datafication, commodification, and algorithmic selection. In response to concerns about the neoliberalization, dehumanization, and platformization of education specifically, the emergent field of critical digital pedagogy has coalesced into a community of educators, designers, and theorists with an international scope, though the majority of published scholarship originates from the United States and the European Union. While the approaches and methods that the proponents of critical digital pedagogy engage with are varied, three broad families of practice include critical instructional design, humanizing online teaching and learning, and digital ungrading. Following earlier traditions of critical pedagogy, practitioners in the field of critical digital pedagogy find themselves grappling with critiques of their approaches as overly politicized, ideologically driven, and pragmatically limited. Open issues in the field include the expanding role of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the role of political activism beyond the classroom, and the addressing of intersections between race, class, and other dimensions of identity within a critical framework.


Social Innovation Pedagogies and Sustainable Models for Future Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs, and Citizens  

Roisin Lyons and Rahmin Bender-Salazar

The use of innovation to address our social or environmental needs is now critical. Globally, we are faced with numerous challenges which require novel, robust solutions that consider multiple scenarios and stakeholders. Innovation education has often been siloed into enterprise, business, and engineering programs to bolster the innovative potency of startup ventures and internal corporate processes. However, social innovation education (SIE) has merit in all disciplines, and for all citizens, to address these emergent global challenges. Social innovation as a concept and field is related but independent from the concept of innovation, and the pedagogies currently in use in these domains are in early development and practice. Social innovation relates to the creation of new ideas displaying a positive impact on the quality and duration of life. Theories of significance to SIE are rooted in the fields of design, creativity, and education while continuing to expand and evolve. A fitting pedagogy for social innovation should foster socially aware students who have both critical- and systems-thinking skills, empathy and an appreciation for human behavior, and who can leverage innovative competencies to develop solutions for positive social impact. In order to successfully create effective learning spaces, we contend that the curricula elements of (a) empathy, (b) locus of control, and (c) speculative thinking, should be embedded into all SIE learning designs.


Examining Challenges and Possibilities in the Objective of a Decolonized Education  

Marlon Lee Moncrieffe

This article examines challenges and possibilities in the objective of a decolonized education. Beginning with key referents to the term decolonized education, this article then provides a unique presentation of decolonizing the education of Eurocentric knowledge created through colonialism, empire, and racism. This process is shown as enacted through a decolonial consciousness framed by a historical, social, cultural, intellectual, emotional, and political disposition which takes action to reverse colonial knowledge. The article applies this decolonial consciousness in a review and analysis of the intergenerational educational experiences of migrant 20th-century African Caribbean people across the United Kingdom, and the ethnogenesis of their Black British children in the face of a White British-centric school system of epistemic inequality. The article provides a critical review on the challenges and possibilities in advocating for decolonized education for the greater inclusion of Black British experiences against national curriculum policy discourses given by U.K. government over the last few decades. The critical focal point of the article is on the aims and contents of the primary school history curriculum and the uncritical teaching and learning perspectives in the delivery of this curriculum. Challenges to decolonizing education and curriculum teaching and learning are presented, discussed, and analyzed through U.K. conservative/liberal democrat coalition government curriculum reforms of 2013 centered on restoring education and curriculum teaching and learning through an ethnic nationalist monocultural version of British national identity (whiteness) at the expense of multiculturalism (cultural diversity). This curriculum hierarchy of whiteness is contrasted by presentation and analysis of evidence-based research that decenters curriculum whiteness. Following this discussion is a review and analysis of debates and discussions in the U.K. Parliament held in 2020, forced by heightened public appeals for a decolonized curriculum. Finally, this article concludes by reviewing examples of continued professional development in teacher education and research that seeks to advance and extend decolonial praxis.


Systems Theory Approaches to Researching Educational Organizations  

Raf Vanderstraeten

In modern society, organizations are present in almost every social domain. From the end of the 18th century onward, education has predominantly taken place in school organizations. Of course, education still takes place within families, but to send a child to school was from around that time onward no longer seen to reflect unfavorably on its family. Schools are no longer a symptom of the family’s failure. The family and the school, rather, have become perceived as different but coexisting settings within which education takes place. Moreover, the way school organizations operate has generally come to be seen as more in accord with the needs of our modern “(post)industrial” society. Educational organizations, such as schools, build upon their own decision-making histories, but the organizational order which they produce is thought to be in line with the kinds of order that dominate in other social domains. More so than families, schools are expected to prepare children for the present and the future. Using systems theory, the consequences of the organizational framing of education can be examined more closely. Developments within systems theory draw particular attention to the relation between organizations and their environment. Informed by this literature, we discuss, on the one hand, how the relation between schools and society can be adequately conceptualized, and, on the other hand, how the growing societal status of school organizations is affecting nonorganized families. Rather than focusing on the ways in which school organizations adapt to their environments, the interest in systems theory approaches is shifting to the ways in which the environments of school organizations must adapt to the expansion of these organizations. Topics that may be fruitfully tackled in future educational research are also explored.