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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.


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.


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.


Centering Race Within Adult Education Theory in the United States  

Sydney D. Richardson

Higher education in the United States operates as it was originally designed: to benefit traditional-aged, middle-and upper-class White men. People of color and White women were meant to adapt to this structure and persevere through the higher education structure in order to succeed (i.e., graduate). This structure continues to exist. Institutions were originally designed for one student demographic; any student who does not fit this image is presented with barriers and obstacles as they matriculate, especially when the student is nontraditional (i.e., adult) and a person of color. As universities take on the challenge of creating diverse, inclusive campuses, one cannot help but realize how far education has to go to create this utopia for racially minoritized adult students. When reviewing many popular theories of adult education, it becomes easy to see that andragogy, self-directed learning, and transformative learning were not created with the Black and Brown student managing nonacademic adversities in mind. The theories were designed based on the ideal adult student at the time of development: White, young, middle or upper class, and needing education in the classroom. This ideal is very different from the Black or Brown student facing discrimination while walking to class due to societal microaggressions and preconceived stereotypes. However, reviewing adult education theories using components of critical race theory as a framework makes it possible to understand how racially minoritized adult students are at a disadvantage on college campuses.


Origins, Concepts, and Trends in Intercultural Education  

Jan Gube

Intercultural education is an approach that responds to societal change arising from the contact, noncontact, and conflict among cultural groups. It envisions the prospects and challenges of living together in pluralistic societies. Globally, intercultural education has prominent origins in various European societies. Scholars and practitioners have also developed and practiced intercultural education in parts of North America and Latin America. As an epistemology, interculturality underpins intercultural education in recognizing and promoting equitable relations across cultural groups. At its forefront is the attention to equality issues in culturally diverse societies, which espouses the mutual accommodation of majority, minority, and Indigenous populations through dialogue and shared cultural expressions. Intercultural education seeks to prepare learners to live in diversity by supporting their understanding of inequalities, fostering respect, developing intercultural communicative skills, and resolving conflict. In practice, intercultural education involves developing skill sets and cultivating values related to intercultural competence, intercultural communication, intercultural dialogue, intercultural encounter, and intercultural sensitivity individually and collectively with the support of communities and institutions. While it continues to be promising in terms of supporting societies to engage with changes in cultural demographics and promoting interactions among different groups, intercultural education is not invulnerable to persistent and emerging societal problems, particularly those that have been legitimized politically, such as anti-immigration and nationalist movements that fuel racism and xenophobia. Intercultural education can at times be confined to the intellectual ambit of the diverse societies in Europe or the Global North. It is also prone to risks in its neo-assimilationist and technocratic tendencies, putting to question its explanatory value in addressing structural and evolving forms of racism. A need for intercultural education theorists, proponents, and practitioners would be to confront racial injustices that operate in novel ways. This need suggests the efforts to restore the humanity, respect, and social justice that sustain societies to thrive on the peaceful coexistence and cooperation among different cultures.


Seeding Rightful Presence and Reframing Equity in STEM Education With Historically Minoritized Communities  

Edna Tan and Angela Calabrese Barton

Equity as inclusion maintains as settled the epistemological, ontological, and axiological bases of Western STEM. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) In exchange for participation in Western STEM, historically underrepresented and minoritized people in STEM need to deny salient aspects of their epistemologies, ontologies, and axiologies in order to assimilate into Western STEM culture. The existing structures in STEM and STEM education, built for White middle class heteropatriarchal norms, have alienated and oppressed minoritized youth of color. In response, a framework has been proposed, called “rightful presence,” for justice-oriented teaching and learning to critique and perturb the guest–host relationality operating in most STEM classrooms. The rightful presence framework is undergirded by three tenets: (a) allied political struggle is necessary to disciplinary learning; (b) rightfulness is claimed through making justice and injustice visible; and (c) collective disruption of guest–host relationalities amplify sociopolitical engagements. A case study from a 6th grade engineering project called the “Happy Box,” illustrates how these three tenets worked together to support students’ desires to address a community-identified problem—low student morale related to LGBTQ2S+ bullying—with rigorous engineering practices. How students came to frame the community issue and their iterative engineering process in prototyping the “Happy Box” illustrated the expansive epistemologies, ontologies, and axiologies made legitimate and important in 6th grade STEM teaching and learning. It is important to pay attention to both temporal and spatial dimensions when engaging in rightful presence sociopolitical work of surfacing injustices in STEM education. The process of disruption involves taking both a temporal (past-present-future) and spatial lens (spaces in which one may engage in STEM-related activities, in which contexts, and with whom). A temporal and spatial dual focus allows for making STEM-related justices visible across space and time that have a cumulative impact on how historically minoritized students might engage with STEM in the present. One way to keep our focus on both the temporal and spatial is to engage in community ethnography as pedagogy. Community ethnography as pedagogy involves: (a) an anchoring stance that community knowledge is valuable and essential to disciplinary learning; (b) a repertoire of pedagogical moves that support teacher–student, student–student, and student–community interactions in ways that identify, invite, integrate, and build on students’ community-based knowledge and embodied experiences; and (c) tools that position teachers and students as colearners of a community-identified, STEM-related phenomenon. Thus framed, community ethnography as pedagogy eschews the ideology of equity as inclusion with an eye toward new, justice-oriented social futures in youth-STEM relevant spaces and experiences. Allying with youth and community members in sociopolitical struggles is not an easy undertaking. Sustained efforts are required to make youth’s lives, communities, histories, presents, and hoped for futures visible and integral to reimagining what engaging with STEM education is and could be.


Indigenous Education, Decolonization, and Reinvigorating the Work of Our Ancestors  

Hollie A. Kulago and Angela M. Jaime

Indigenous peoples have always had their educational strategies and systems in place to pass on their Ways of Knowing from one generation to the next. Indigenous education is an ongoing process in which the curriculum comes from the land, language, and community from where their ancestors emerged. Many systems and Ways of Knowing have been disrupted by settler colonialism’s persistent attempts to erase Indigenous peoples from the lands and mainstream narrative. Indigenous decolonization of education intervenes the assimilative frameworks of western education in order to work toward Indigenous sovereignty of the minds, lands, peoples, and nations.


Schooling in Racist America  

Zeus Leonardo

Education is both a racial and class project. This means that a multidimensional theory of educational stratification is necessary if an accurate appraisal of schooling’s modern appearance in capitalist, racialized states is central to the research endeavor. Critiques of capitalism are found in critical pedagogy and Marxist studies of education since the 1970s, which argue that schooling’s intellectual division of labor mirrors the material structures of a capitalist division of labor. In addition, the advent of critical race theory in education since 1995 provides compelling evidence that schooling is not only an ideological apparatus of the capitalist state but also equally of the racist state. Together, developing a critical class theory and critical race theory of education offers a more complete explanation of educational stratification in order to understand its processes and perhaps ways to intervene in them.


Critical Race Theory and STEM Education  

Terrell R. Morton

Critical race theory (CRT) is a framework that attends to the prevalence, permanence, and impact of racism embedded within and manifested through the policies, practices, norms, and expectations of U.S. social institutions and how those concepts have differentially impacted the lived experiences of Black and Brown individuals. CRT bore out of the legal studies—complemented by philosophical and sociological fields—and has since been applied to a multitude of disciplines including education. Composed of several tenets or principles, CRT approaches to research, scholarship, and praxis take a structural, systematic, or systemic perspective rather than an individual or isolated perspective. CRT provides scholars and practitioners the ability to acknowledge and challenge structural racism and intersectional forms of oppression as foundational to the perceived and experienced inequities outlined by various constituents. In providing such a perspective, CRT facilitates the opportunity for future ideologies that promote radical and transformative change to systems and structures that perpetuate racial and intersectional-based oppression. STEM education—representing the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from inter- and intradisciplinary perspectives—constitutes the norms, ideologies, beliefs, and practices hallmarked by and within these fields, examined both separately as individual disciplines (e.g., science) and collectively (i.e., STEM). These concepts comprise what is noted as the culture of STEM. Scholarship on STEM education, broadly conceived, discusses the influence and impact of STEM culture across P–20+ education on access, engagement, teaching, and learning. These components are noted through examining student experiences; teachers’ (faculty) engagement, pedagogy, and practice; leadership and administration’s implementation of the aforementioned structures; and the creation and reinforcement of policies that regulate STEM culture. Critical race theoretical approaches to STEM education thus critique how the culture of STEM differentially addresses the needs and desires of various racially minoritized communities in and through STEM disciplines. These critiques are based on the fact that the power to disenfranchise individuals is facilitated by the culture of whiteness embedded within STEM culture, a perspective that is codified and protected by society to favor and privilege White people. CRT in STEM education research tackles the influence and impact of racism and intersectional oppression on racially minoritized individuals in and through STEM by revealing the manifestation and implications of racism and intersectional oppression on racially minoritized individuals’ STEM interactions. CRT in STEM also provides opportunities to reclaim and create space that more appropriately serves racially minoritized individuals through the use of counterstories that center the lived experience of said individuals at the crux of epistemological and ontological understandings, as well as the formation of policies, programs, and other actions. Such conceptions strive to challenge stakeholders within STEM to alter their individual and collective beliefs and perspectives of how and why race is a contending factor for access, engagement, and learning in STEM. These conceptions also strive to challenge stakeholders within STEM to reconfigure STEM structures to redress race-based inequity and oppression.


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.