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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

COVID-19 and Pupils’ Learning  

Katharina Werner and Ludger Woessmann

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the life of school children in major ways. In many countries, schools were closed for several months, with various modes of distance learning in place. This challenged pupils’ learning experiences. In addition, social-distancing rules impeded their peer interactions, potentially impeding their socio-emotional development. We summarize the available evidence on how the pandemic affected the educational inputs provided by children, parents, and schools, how it impacted children’s cognitive and socio-emotional skills, and whether the experiences will leave a persistent legacy for the children’s long-run development. The evidence suggests that in most countries, a majority of children experienced substantial losses in the development of cognitive skills. The learning losses tend to be highly unequal, with children from low-socioeconomic-status families and children with low initial achievement suffering the largest losses. The COVID-19 pandemic also interfered with the socio-emotional well-being of many children, although serious longer-term repercussions to their socio-emotional development may be restricted to a limited subgroup of children. Because child development is a dynamic and synergistic process, in the absence of successful remediation the initial skill losses are likely to reduce subsequent skill development, lifetime income, and economic growth and increase educational and economic inequality in the long run.

Article

Trauma-Informed Practice in Early Childhood Education  

Elspeth Stephenson

Early traumatic experiences can have a profound impact on the developing brain causing a catastrophic effect on a child’s growth and development, the result of which can be lifelong. Early childhood educators have a critical role to play in the lives of children who have trauma histories. These educators are well positioned to undertake this work because early childhood philosophy and pedagogy align with the needs of a child who has experienced early adversity. Beliefs about the role of relationships, attachment, and felt safety are central to this work. To be effective, however, educators need to be trauma informed in their practice. Understanding how adverse experiences cause adaptation to the developing brain and impede development is a good starting place to becoming trauma informed, but translating this understanding into practice is key to success. While there are strategies that can support educators to work effectively with children with trauma histories, strategies alone will not suffice. They cannot simply be applied to any situation. If educators apply strategies without due thought and consideration in relation to the child’s needs and context, at best they may be ineffective and at worst, there is potential to retraumatize the child. All educators and children are unique individuals and therefore bring different attributes to each situation. Educators who understand themselves and their attributes can use this knowledge, along with their understanding of context and the impact of trauma, to make informed decisions about their practice. While this reflective process can sound arduous, educators can quickly become skilled as they hone their craft and see changes to their practice bring successful outcomes for children. In this way, early childhood educators have the capacity to change developmental trajectories for children and make a difference that will be lifelong.

Article

Environmental Education for Climate Justice: An Indian Perspective  

Deborah Dutta

Climate change as a global crisis looms large in the public imagination, along with a widespread acknowledgement of a need to develop educational interventions and strategies that can help people engage with the climate emergency. However, conventional environmental education (EE) for a large part has remained focused on climate literacy and techno-scientific determinism, thus lacking the conceptual tools to engage with the sociopolitical, cognitive, and normative aspects of climate crises. Given the abstract, temporally stretched, and geographically diffused and distributed nature of the issue, the challenge for educators goes beyond an epistemic framing to encompass value-laden ideas of social justice, ecological sustainability, and collective well-being. Pedagogical efforts need to radically expand their reach to include context-specific, historical trajectories and development narratives that have shaped the current debates in climate mitigation and adaptation. The environmental discourse around climate change has been problematic in the Global South given that those discussions tend to eclipse the more pressing, local issues of pollution, soil degradation, water scarcity, or waste management. However, a growing understanding of the complex linkage between climate and other environmental issues has prompted newer forms of discourse and engagement. India faces daunting challenges as a large agrarian economy poised to bear the brunt of climate related events, alongside the material aspirations of a growing middle class. Nevertheless, numerous grassroots experiments are offering pathways for an alternate view of development and well-being through examples of resilience and adaptation. A historical and spatially grounded discussion of the climate change debates along with an exploration of promising initiatives can guide the design of EE for climate justice.

Article

Changing Perspectives on Adolescence(s)  

Jennifer A. Vadeboncoeur, Paulo Padilla-Petry, Natalia Panina-Beard, and Surita Jhangiani

While descriptions of transitions between childhood and adulthood have existed for millennia, “adolescence” was first defined as a universal developmental stage characterized by instability, conflict, and risk-taking in the early 20th century in American psychology. Research has challenged this view of adolescence—as a biologically determined, universal stage marked by turbulence—and has exposed the assumptions underlying its characterization. Much of this scholarship highlights limitations in the theoretical and methodological assumptions that form the foundation for how research was and is conducted, as well as the claims made from research. The lack of acknowledgment of the ways in which history, society, and culture influence definitions of adolescence and the persistence of historical biases against young people may mask the needs and interests of particular groups of young people and individuals. Reviewing current research in the developmental sciences, with insights from various disciplines, highlights a growing awareness of the significance of interdisciplinarity and the limitations of the current body of scholarship. There is a significant need for theoretical and methodological perspectives that make visible the complexity of learning and developing into and through historical, social, and cultural environments, and the ways in which conditions specific to these environments impact children and youths. Even more urgent, however, is the need for approaches that attend to the ways in which dominant perspectives regarding culture, “race” and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and gender and sexuality are systematically woven into environments, creating different learning and developmental opportunities for youths. Conceptualizing adolescences and inquiring into variations in the lived experiences of young people requires conceptual and methodological innovation, attention to the ways in which the conduct of research affects the outcomes of research, critical reflexivity on the part of researchers, and balancing research foci to include conducting research with young people as a method for understanding the experiences of groups of young people and individual youths in studies of participation and meaning-making. Cultural-historical approaches, emerging for almost a century, offer both theoretical and methodological advances for making visible how children and young people grow into and through their historical, social, and cultural environments. As individuals and their environments are inseparable, these approaches describe and explain how young people both shape and are shaped by the ecologies within which they are entangled. Further, these approaches acknowledge—and inquire into—the ways in which dominant perspectives regarding culture, “race” and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and gender and sexuality frame ecologies and are accommodated, resisted, and/or transformed by youths.

Article

A Multi-Level Model of Moral Functioning: Integrating Socio-Bio-evolutionary Science, Socio-Constructionism, and Constructivist-Developmental Theory  

Silvia Diazgranados Ferráns and Robert L. Selman

Tensions chronically exist in the research literature among bio-evolutionary scientists, constructivist-developmental psychologists, and socio-constructionist scholars about how to describe, understand, and predict our moral functioning. An analysis of the assumptions of each of these theoretical paradigms, the disciplinary fields that inform their conceptual models, and the empirical evidence they use to sustain their claims reveals the tensions that exist, as different communities of scholars assign different roles to nature and nurture, reason and intuition, and to the private minds of individuals and the social intelligibilities available to them in a given time and place of history. Using simple multilevel structures, it is possible to see that the divisions that exist within these scientific communities can be conceptualized in terms of their use of different levels of analysis, as they each focus on different populations and employ different underlying units of time and space. Bio-evolutionary scientists study humans as species, using slow-paced time units of analysis such as millennia, and their studies focus on the epigenetic dimensions of our moral sense, documenting inter-species variance in moral functioning. Socio-constructionists study humans as members of groups, using moderately paced time units of analysis such as decades and centuries, and their studies focus on cultural variations in what different groups of people consider to be good or bad, according to the social structures and intelligibilities that are available to them in a given time and place of history. Constructivist-developmental psychologists study humans as individuals, using fast-paced time units of analysis such as months and years, and their studies focus on the maturational dimension of our moral sense, documenting within- and between-individuals variation throughout their lifetime. Unfortunately, by focusing on different populations and time units, these communities of scholars produce research findings that highlight certain aspects of our moral functioning while downplaying others. Interestingly, complex multilevel structures can illustrate how different levels of analysis are nested within each other and can demonstrate how different scientific endeavors have been striving to account for different sources of variability in our moral functioning. The use of complex multilevel structures can also allow us to understand our moral functioning from a dynamic, complex, multilevel theoretical perspective, and as the product of (a) genetic variations that occur between and within species, (b) variations in the social structures, discourses, and intelligibilities that are available in the culture and regulate what social groups consider good and bad at different places and times of history, and (c) variations in the personal experiences and opportunities of interaction that individuals have in different environments throughout their lifetime. Researchers need to clarify the epigenetic, historical, and developmental rules of our moral functioning, and the ways in which different dimensions interact with each other.

Article

Children’s Rights, Student Voice, Informal Learning, and School Reform  

Roseanna Bourke and John O'Neill

Children’s conceptions and experiences of learning greatly influence how and what they learn. Traditional forms of schooling typically position learners at the periphery of decisions about their own learning. Curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment practices emphasize the attainment of system-mandated learning outcomes, and this emphasis predetermines much of what is deemed by adults to be important or worthwhile student learning. Children consequently come to view their school learning in fragmented, individualistic, and narrowly adult-defined and controlled ways. Many state schooling system settings permit only limited choice and decision making by children. However, the history of compulsory education also contains numerous instances of schoolchildren organizing and taking collective action against the wishes of adults on issues that are of concern to them; and of states, communities, and individual schools where radically different schooling approaches have been attempted, both inside and outside the publicly funded system. These “free,” “alternative,” or “democratic” schooling initiatives are part of long-standing “progressive” education counter-discourses that aim to demonstrate the benefits of child-centered and even child-determined schooling. Such initiatives have encountered both resistance and support in schooling systems and consequently offer useful lessons with regard to contemporary discourses around children’s rights and student voice, as well as their contribution to schooling system reform. In recent decades, the combined effects of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and growing scholarly interest in “student voice” research and reform efforts in ordinary schools have increased expectations that children should have a meaningful say in their learning at school. The UNCRC underpins polity efforts to facilitate young people’s active participation in decision making in areas that affect them across the social agencies. Although contemporary “student voice” initiatives offer some promise for more of a “partnership” between adults and children in the ordinary school, they are often conceptualized and enacted at a superficial or tokenistic level. In continuing to position children simply as students who need the protection and direction of adults, schools fail to give adequate attention to the rich ways in which out-of-school learning contributes to a child’s holistic identity, to the learning strategies young people use in their day-to-day lives outside of compulsory schooling settings, and how these might help shape children’s agentic participation in meaningful decision making about what and how they learn while at school. A greater focus on the discursive processes of informal and everyday learning in family and community, and on the learning strengths or funds of knowledge children acquire in these settings, encourages the kinds of school and classroom conditions in which children and young people actively explore aspects of their world that interest them, experience agency in and commitment to their learning, and make choices about who they spend time with and what they prioritize in their learning. Informal learning affords young people the ability to naturally self-assess their learning and develop sophisticated understandings about what works for them and why. When young people actively engage with physical, technological, and social spaces, to advance their learning, they also learn to appreciate the utility of the tools and people around them. All these competencies or capabilities have relevance for what occurs in formal schooling settings also. Getting to know about the informal learning experiences of young people outside school influences the ways teachers think about who their learners are, learning as a phenomenon, and about the pedagogical repertoire they use to develop and enhance children’s capabilities. These pedagogical insights enable teachers to subtly or radically change their approaches to learning, the interactional framework of the classroom, and the teachers’ relations with families and with the local community that children negotiate each day.

Article

Critical White Studies and Curriculum Theory  

James C. Jupp and Pauli Badenhorst

Critical White studies (CWS) refers to an oppositional and interdisciplinary body of historical, social science, literary, and aesthetic intellectual production that critically examines White people’s individual, collective, social, and historical experiences. CWS reflexively assumes the embeddedness of researcher identities within the research, including the different positionalities of White researchers and researchers of Color within White supremacy writ large as well as whiteness in the social sciences and curriculum theory. As an expression of the historical consciousness shift sparked by anglophone but also francophone African-Atlantic and pan-African intellectuals, CWS emerged within the 20th century’s emancipatory social sciences tied to Global South independence movements and Global North civil rights upheavals. Initiated by cultural studies theorists Stuart Hall and Dick Dyer in the early 80s, CWS has proliferated through two waves. CWS’ first wave (1980–2000) advanced a race-evasive analytical arc with the following ontological and epistemological conceptual-empirical emphases: whiteness as hegemonic normativity, White identity and nation-building, White privilege and property, and White color-blind racism and race evasion. CWS’ second-wave (2000–2020) advanced an anti-essentializing analytical arc with pedagogical conceptual-empirical emphases: White materiality and place, White complexities and relationalities, Whiteness and ethics, and social psychoanalyses in whiteness pedagogies. Always controversial, CWS proliferated as a “hot topic” in social sciences throughout the 90s. Regarding catalytic validity, several CWS concepts entered mass media and popular discussions in 2020 to understand White police violence against Black people—violence of which George Floyd’s murder is emblematic. In curriculum theory, CWS forged two main “in-ways.” In the 1990s, CWS entered the field through Henry Giroux, Joe Kincheloe, Shirley Steinberg, and colleagues who advanced critical whiteness pedagogies. This line of research is differently continued by Tim Lensmire and his colleagues Sam Tanner, Zac Casey, Shannon Macmanimon, Erin Miller, and others. CWS also entered curriculum theory via the field of White teacher identity studies advanced by Sherry Marx and then further synthesized by Jim Jupp, Theodorea Berry, Tim Lensmire, Alisa Leckie, Nolan Cabrera, and Jamie Utt. White teacher identity studies is frequently applied to work on predominantly White teacher education programs. Besides these in-ways, CWS’ conceptual production, especially the notion of “whiteness as hegemonic normativity” or whiteness, disrupted whitened business-as-usual in curriculum theory between 2006 and 2020. Scholars of Color supported by a few White scholars called out curriculum theory’s whiteness and demanded change in a field that centered on race-based epistemologies and indigenous cosmovisions in conferences and journals. CWS might play a role in working through the as-of-yet unresolved conflict over the futurity of curriculum theory as a predominantly White space. A better historicized CWS that takes on questions of coloniality of power, being, and knowledge informed by feminist, decolonial, and psychoanalytic resources provides one possible futurity for CWS in curriculum theory. In this futurity, CWS is relocated as one dimension of a broad array of criticalities within curriculum theory’s critical pedagogies. This relocated CWS might advance psychoanalytically informed whiteness pedagogies that grapple with the overarching question: Can whiteness and White identities be decolonized? This field would include European critical psychoanalytic social sciences along with feminist and decolonial resources to advance a transformative shift in consciousness.

Article

Museum Education and the Epistemological Turn  

Irene Pérez López

Education has been part of museum identity since its inception. However, in the second half of the 20th century, the educational role gradually became the main goal: the museum has become a social institution whose educational nature legitimizes its social relevance and secures its survival in the 21st century. The spread of education to all areas of the museum, commonly called the “educational turn,” is the reason behind the conceptual change that is taking place in the postmodern museum, which has its origin in educational theory. In the last decades of the 20th century, the concept of learning as the transmission of information from an informed source to a passive receiver was replaced by the constructivist notion that learning is an active process dependent on the learner’s previous knowledge and experiences. At about the same time, critical pedagogy—as critical museology—brought a critical attitude within the museum, directed to identify structures of power and authority in order to give voice to traditionally excluded communities, and postmodernism added the idea of knowledge as something unstable and skepticism about the Western metanarratives of modernity. Constructivism, critical pedagogy, and postmodern theory contributed to the epistemological turn that the 21st-century museum faces. The change in learning theories and communication models in the postmodern museum, as a result of the epistemological turn, threatens the role of the institution as the only interpretive authority, by turning its message—previously considered a universal truth—into a point of view. The museum faces the challenge of becoming a meaning-making scenario where visitors can make connections and design their own learning experiences. The museum of the 21st century has forged a more egalitarian relationship with society.

Article

The Pattern of Upbringing  

Hansjörg Hohr

“Upbringing” refers to the purposive activity of the older generation toward the young in order to further their growth into adulthood. These activities unfold in the intersection of instinct and culture and of individual and society and are, thus, a specifically human activity. They comprise the growth of the body of the children, their introduction into the world of symbols and the world of experience. One of the basic traits of upbringing is pointing out objects, naming them, and thus creating a shared world of things. Among the symbolic activities in upbringing there is the interplay of asking and explaining, of showing and imitating, dialogue, negotiation, discourse, storytelling, and play. The symbolic activities constitute and simultaneously are the basis of experience. Thus, speaking in general terms, upbringing means the arrangement and shaping of the environment to afford valuable experiences to the children and thus further their growth.