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Teach For America  

Spencer J. Smith

Since its founding in 1989 by then–college student Wendy Kopp, Teach For America (TFA) has influenced education policy and public perceptions of schooling both in the United States and abroad. By placing recent college graduates as full-time teachers in schools located in low-income communities, TFA attempts to solve educational inequity. This work has often met with resistance from teacher educators and traditional teacher preparation programs. Central to this resistance is the brevity of TFA’s training. TFA recruits, called corps members, undergo a 6-week training the summer before stepping into a K-12 classroom they control. Over 3 decades, TFA has responded to some of these criticisms and has changed. Even though TFA teachers make up a small proportion of teachers in the United States, scholars still study TFA since many elements of contemporary U.S. schooling are encapsulated within the TFA program. Understanding TFA’s history is necessary for the way scholars and educationists engage with the organization to think about issues in education, including the effect of teachers on student achievement, the standardization of neoliberal schooling, appropriate responses to academic achievement gaps, and the use of culturally responsive pedagogies and cultural competency in classrooms of historically marginalized students. Importantly, these issues are not just entirely theoretical when TFA actively influences public policy and TFA alumni create new school networks, lead large school districts, and become education scholars themselves. Additionally, TFA’s international expansion in 2007 means that TFA’s influence can be felt globally.

Article

Theories of Tolerance in Education  

Ben Bindewald

Scholars in diverse democratic societies have theorized tolerance in various ways. Classical liberal tolerance can best be understood as non-interference with forms of behavior or expression one finds objectionable. It has been criticized for being too permissive of hate speech and not demanding enough as a theoretical guide to civic education. Alternatively, robust respect is characterized by open-mindedness and respect for diversity. Critics have suggested that it is too relativistic and overly ambitious as a guide to civic education. Discriminating (in)tolerance suggests that tolerance should only be extended to individuals and groups who support the advancement of egalitarian politics and the interests of historically marginalized groups. It has been criticized for being overly authoritarian and dogmatic. Mutuality emphasizes reciprocity and sustained engagement across difference. Critics argue that it is not revolutionary enough to address past injustices and persistent inequality.

Article

The Philosophy and Ideals of Islamic Education  

Mujadad Zaman

The philosophy of Islamic education covers a wide range of ideas and practices drawn from Islamic scripture, metaphysics, philosophy, and common piety, all of which accumulate to inform discourses of learning, pedagogy, and ethics. This provides a definition of Islamic education and yet also of Islam more generally. In other words, since metaphysics and ontology are related to questions of learning and pedagogy, a compendious and indigenous definition of “education” offers an insight into a wider spectrum of Islamic thought, culture, and weltanschauung. As such, there is no singular historical or contemporary philosophy of Islamic education which avails all of this complexity but rather there exists a number of ideas and practices which inform how education plays a role in the embodiment of knowledge and the self-actualization of the individual self to ultimately come to know God. Such an exposition may come to stand as a superordinate vision of learning framing Islamic educational ideals. Questions of how these ideas are made manifest and practiced are partly answered through scripture as well as the historical, and continuing, importance of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam; as paragon and moral exemplar in Islamic thought. Having said “I was sent as a teacher,” his life and manner (sunnah) offer a wide-ranging source of pedagogic and intellectual value for his community (ummah) who have regarded the emulation of his character as among the highest of human virtues. In this theocentric cosmology a tripart conception of education emerges, beginning with the sacred nature of knowledge (ʿilm), the imperative for its coupling with action (ʿamal), in reference to the Prophet, and finally, these foundations supporting the flourishing of an etiquette and comportment (adab) defined by an equanimous state of being and wisdom (ḥikma). In this sense, the reason for there being not one identifiable philosophy of Islamic education, whether premodern or in the modern context, is due to the concatenations of thoughts and practices gravitating around superordinate, metaphysical ideals. The absence of a historical discipline, named “philosophy of education” in Islamic history, infers that education, learning, and the nurturing of young minds is an enterprise anchored by a cosmology which serves the common dominators of divine laudation and piety. Education, therefore, whether evolving from within formal institutional arenas (madrasas) or the setting of the craft guilds (futuwwa), help to enunciate a communality and consilience of how human beings may come to know themselves, their world, and ultimately God.

Article

Public-Oriented Alternatives to Dominating Control of Schooling Exemplified by Raden Adjeng Kartini and Ki Hadjar’s Taman Siswa Schools in Indonesia  

Dinny Risri Aletheiani

School curriculum in most countries is dominated by the interests of the corporate states that govern the world. Educational alternatives have emerged in many countries that represent a public that is disenfranchised with them. In Indonesia, the work of Raden Adjeng Kartini and Ki Hadjar Dewantara provides poignant illustrations of educators who developed writings and practices that offer alternatives to the corporate states or imperialist and colonial precursors to them. These two prominent Indonesian curriculum theorists/educators, Raden Adjeng Kartini (1879–1904) and Ki Hadjar Dewantara (1889–1959), their lives, their works regarding the education of indigenous Indonesians, and their influences upon Indonesian education illustrate such alternatives. Raden Adjeng Kartini’s contribution in education revolves around four main concerns, namely the conditions and the rights of girls and women in Indonesian society, specifically in Java; the influences of tradition and customs; modernity and educating Indonesians; and the mechanism of colonialization. Her letters between 1898 and 1904 are unique sources to better understand her curriculum craft on the importance of education for all. Ki Hadjar’s contributions in education are similar to those of Raden Adjeng Kartini. Ki Hadjar’s contribution can be studied through the work of Taman Siswa school. The important characteristics of Taman Siswa include its conceptual and physical establishment as perguruan or paguron, sense of family as an institutional and educational principle and approach, and the Among System.

Article

Critical Perspectives on Curriculum and Pedagogy  

Ganiva Reyes, Racheal Banda, and Brian D. Schultz

Throughout the history of the United States there has been a long trajectory of dialogue within the field of education around curriculum and pedagogy. Scholars have centered questions such as: What is curriculum? What knowledge should count as curriculum? Who gets to decide? Who does not? And, in turn, what is the pedagogical process of organizing knowledge, subject matter, and skills into curriculum? While many scholars have worked on various approaches to curriculum, the work of Black intellectual scholar Anna Julia Cooper serves as an important point of departure that highlights how curriculum and pedagogy have long been immersed in broader sociopolitical issues such as citizenship, democracy, culture, race, and gender. Starting from the late 19th century, Cooper took up curricular and pedagogical questions such as: What is the purpose of education? What is the role of the educator? And what is the purpose of being student-centered? These are important questions that pull together various traditions and fields of work in education that offer different approaches to curriculum. For instance, the question of whether it’s best to center classical subjects versus striving for efficiency in the development of curriculum has been a debated issue. Across such historical debates, the work of mainstream education scholars such as John Dewey, Ralph Tyler, and Hilda Taba have long been recognized; however, voices from scholars of color, such as Cooper, have been left out or overlooked. Thus, the contributions of Black intellectual scholars such as Cooper, Carter G. Woodson, and other critical scholars of color are brought to the forefront to provide deeper knowledge about the development of curriculum and pedagogy. The work of marginalized scholars is also connected with reconceptualist efforts in curriculum studies to consider current conceptual framings of schooling, curriculum, and pedagogy. Finally, critical theories of curriculum and pedagogy are further unpacked through research conducted with and alongside communities of color. This scholarship includes culturally responsive pedagogy, funds of knowledge, hip-hop pedagogy, reality pedagogy, critically compassionate intellectualism, barrio pedagogy, youth participatory action research (YPAR), and feminist of color pedagogies.

Article

Peace and Curriculum Studies  

Molly Quinn

To contemplate the question or concern of peace in curriculum studies, and as has been taken up in the field, is to traverse terrain neither simple nor singular. Peace as a concept, and an ideal, is itself complex and contested, elusory even, and approached in manifold ways, often in relation to other equally intricate and disputed ideas, like violence, war, justice, freedom, hope, and love (as well as human rights, hospitality, citizenship, and cosmopolitanism)—historically informed and context-specific as well. The challenges, too, in undertaking such a task are further compounded as concerning curriculum studies, where there is neither a clearly established nor a cohesive body of work upon which to turn or draw here, where no formalized attention has been given systematically to the study of peace, peace education, or peace studies in relation to such. Nevertheless, one could argue that the field of curriculum from its inception, and enduringly so, has been implicitly and integrally connected to the interest of peace and point to a diversity of work therein, of some breadth and depth, to support this claim and examine this interest. The contemporary scholarship that has emerged in the field and explicitly addressed matters of peace and nonviolence, as well as the work of peace advocates and educators, portends further advancement of this line of inquiry—particularly in response to the growing threats and realities of inequality, conflict, violence, war, ecological devastation, and genocide worldwide—in the hopes of creating a more beautiful world of justice, harmony, and human flourishing via education.

Article

From Curriculum Theory to Theorizing  

Gabriel Huddleston and Robert Helfenbein

Curriculum theory is shaped and held within the larger field of curriculum studies, but its distinctive focus on understanding curriculum as opposed to developing it places it is stark contrast with other parts of the larger field. This focus is further distinctive when curriculum theory shifts to curriculum theorizing. Curriculum theorizing emerged in the United States, principally at Bergamo conferences and precursor conferences, in the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (JCT), and through scholars associated with the reconceptualization. It has spread internationally via the International Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies and its subsidiaries in many different countries and cultures. Some scholars hold that curriculum theory includes curriculum theorizing as well as normative and analytic conceptualizations that justify or explain curriculum decisions and actions. Curriculum theorizing attempts to read broadly in social theory so as to embody those insights in dealing with issues of curriculum, and can take philosophical, sociological, psychological, historical, or cultural studies approaches to analyses, interpretations, criticisms, and improvements. This approach has built upon what has become known as the reconceptualization, which began in the late 1970s and continues into the early 21st century. Increasingly, the field has taken up analysis of contemporary education policy and sociopolitical contexts as an outgrowth of its work. Issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, and dis/ability, and the ways in which their intersectionality impact the lived experience of schools, continue to motivate and direct the field of curriculum studies. In so doing, criticism, analysis, interpretation, and expansion of such issues have moved the focus of curriculum theorizing to include any aspects of social and psychological life that educate or shape the ways human beings reflect upon or interact with the world.

Article

Spirituality and Education in the United States  

Roland W. Mitchell, Nicholas E. Mitchell, and Chaunda A. Mitchell

Spirituality and education have historically been tightly intertwined concepts. Spirituality is the timeless pursuit by humanity for certainty, understanding, and an abiding connection to each other and the cosmos. Education represents humanity’s efforts at grouping practices, insights, and often contested knowledges in such a manner that they are passed across generations, groups, and communities. The combination of the two reflects humanity’s pursuit at making sense out of the environment.