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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.

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

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.

Article

Religious Liberty in American Public Higher Education  

William E. Thro

A state college or university, through its administrators and, in some contexts, its faculty and students, is a constitutional actor. This statement surprises many who work in public higher education. Because students, staff, faculty members, and visitors retain their constitutional rights, those who act on behalf of public colleges and universities are constitutional actors, the paramount duty is to obey the Constitution. The constitutional obligations trump other duties under statutes, regulations, guidance documents, union agreements, internal policies, and faculty rules. Because they are flawed human beings, university administrators are no more or no less virtuous than other governmental actors are. Like other government officials, higher education administrators may pursue their own interests at the expense of the public interests, may reward their friends and punish their enemies, and may subordinate the constitutional rights of others to their own well-intentioned policy objectives. Constitutional conflict and constitutional litigation are inevitable. Like government officials outside of academe, a public college or university’s constitutional actors must ensure their own behavior conforms to the Constitution while striving to ensure their colleagues also comply. Although constitutional conflicts for public universities arise in many contexts, disputes involving the “first freedom” of religious liberty are quite common. Americans are a religious people and, while they differ on fundamental theological questions, there is a broad consensus around the existence of a higher power. Consequently, their government’s foundational documents explicitly acknowledge the unalienable right of religious liberty. This acknowledgment takes the form of the Establishment Clause, which prevents the government from favoring a particular faith, and the Free Exercise Clause, which prohibits government interference with religious practice.

Article

Current Trends and Directions in Socioscientific Issues Education Research  

Aswathy Raveendran

References to socioscientific issues (SSIs) in science education research literature can be traced back to the 1980s. With a focus on introducing students to SSIs or issues with conceptual or technological links to science, the SSI movement aims to foster skills for democratic citizenship in students. This entails understanding the ethical and political complexities involved in these technoscientific controversies, the nature of the evidence involved and arriving at one’s own position on these issues. Two major approaches characterize research in the field of SSI education—the sociocultural and sociopolitical approaches, which differ in their assumptions and methodological approaches. While both approaches are concerned about issues of democratic citizenship and teaching skills to engage SSIs, they differ in their overarching emphasis on sociopolitical actions. The literature on SSIs raises questions on citizenship and how it is theorized in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education research as well as whether schools are meaningful spaces where students can engage with SSIs. It is also important to carefully deliberate on what meaningful sociopolitical actions entail. Future SSI research needs to focus on the issue of navigating SSIs in the affective space of the classroom where complex power-ridden relationalities play out between teacher and students. There is also a necessity for the SSI movement to engage with questions of contextualization and politicization of the STEM curriculum as a whole.

Article

Sweden and Education as a Market  

Lisbeth Lundahl

Since the late 1970s, the relationship between the state, the public sector, and the economy has undergone a profound transformation globally toward privatization, commercialization, and market organization. Pronounced marketization of education has occurred even in the Nordic countries, traditionally characterized as having social democratic/universalistic and egalitarian welfare systems, but with considerable national variations. Sweden has caught international attention by introducing unusually far-reaching, state-supported privatization of educational provision and strong incentives for school choice and competition. Central issues addressed include the factors associated with the exceptionally swift and far-reaching market reforms in Sweden, as well as the persistence of the resulting system and its consequences according to current research. A hasty reform decision, paucity of envisioned alternatives, and the appeal of school choice for an expanding middle-class contributed to the neoliberal turn in Swedish education politics. Generous rules of establishment and possibilities of profit-making attracted big businesses, particularly after the decision in the mid-1990s to fully tax-fund independent “free” schools. Within a 10-year period, substantial proportions of the schools were owned and run by large, profit-making companies and chains. Research has shown that the school choice and privatization reforms, besides providing parents and young people in the urban areas with a vast smorgasbord of schools, have fueled growing educational inequity and segregation since the 1990s. Despite increasing criticism of the design of school choice and profit-making in education from many sides, recently even from conservative–liberal media and politicians, the Swedish “market school system” persists and flourishes.

Article

Embedding Sustainability in Teacher Education in Australia  

Lisa D. Ryan and Jo-Anne L. Ferreira

The role of education in addressing environmental and sustainability concerns has been recognized since the 1960s, with contemporary education for sustainable development (ESD) approaches seeking to prepare students to be active citizens with the knowledge, skills, and capacities to successfully address sustainability challenges. Given the focus on education as a key strategy, there have also been numerous international initiatives seeking to reorient teacher education for sustainability (TEfS), including providing curriculum resources for teacher educators, upskilling teacher educators, building communities of practice, and developing ESD competency frameworks. Despite these efforts, few teacher education institutions embed such work, resulting in limited skills and capabilities among teacher educators to teach active citizenship for sustainability. Barriers to effective TEfS include compartmentalization of disciplines and the prioritization of other curriculum areas such as numeracy and literacy, and this has compounded the problem. A case study of a decade-long project, Embedding Teacher Education for Sustainability in Australia, demonstrates how systems approaches to change that build common visions, identifying and working with all stakeholders within a system, can lead to positive TEfS outcomes. There are key lessons to be learned from this project, which might inform a future model for embedding sustainability in teacher education in other countries. Using a systems approach to change that recognizes key drivers of teacher education, such as governmental policy and teacher accreditation, and that advocates for the inclusion of ESD into teacher standards should be a key priority action if ESD is to be successfully embedded within teacher education.

Article

Critical Policy Discourse Analysis in Higher Education  

Jane Mulderrig

Critical Policy Discourse Analysis (CPDA) is a method for critically investigating the linguistic mechanisms by which education policy is constituted and contested in specific contexts. It involves a systematic methodology for textual and contextual analysis, designed to explore historically specific policy problems and their ideological significance. The analytical procedures involved in this approach are illustrated by means of a case study examining the introduction of quality-assurance governance practices and market-oriented reforms to U.K. higher education (HE). Specifically, the “Teaching Excellence Framework,” introduced in 2017, has two core purposes: to audit and rank universities by teaching quality and to open up the university market to private (for-profit) providers. The two main government documents which introduced this policy are examined in order to explore the prominent themes within this policy, as well as the linguistic strategies that contribute to its ideological framing. A critical investigation of the language through which this policy was introduced and legitimated reveals the neoliberal principles which underpin it and demonstrates how it operates as a dehumanizing technique of calculation and surveillance, while subordinating universities’ societal role to the needs of the economy. Corpus-aided methods are combined with a framework for close textual analysis of policy data, focussing on presuppositions, evaluation, modality and pronouns. The analysis shows the systematic linguistic processes by which student-consumer subjectivities are constructed and the rhetoric of “choice” and “value for money” is (mis)represented as the key to greater access and social mobility for students. This policy takes a significant step toward recasting educational relations in extrinsic, exchange-value terms, which are deeply damaging to universities’ original purpose of building communities of critical reflection, intellectual freedoms, and trust.

Article

Researching Relationships Between Rural Education, Space and Social Justice  

Hernan Cuervo

The relationship between rural schooling, space, and theories of justice is important to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by individuals (e.g., students, teachers, principals) learning and teaching in rural places. To understand these challenges and opportunities, social justice needs to be comprehended at the level and setting where it is being enacted. This need for a contextualization of social justice, rather than universal and impartial notions of the concept, contributes to make visible the structures and relationships that constitute the space of rural schooling. This is important because the entrenched inequities experienced by rural school participants (e.g., students, staff, and the community) can only be fully addressed through a plural conceptualization and practice of social justice. This plurality needs to include a politics of distribution and a politics of recognition if it aims to make rural school spaces equitable and just. The work of Iris Marion Young, Nancy Fraser, and Axel Honneth has been key to theorize the plural conceptualization of social justice in the intersection with space and rural education. Their scholarly work has been crucial because traditionally, a politics of distribution has tended to be the main social justice dimension applied in educational policies to redress perennial inequalities, such as shortage of staffing. This has produced a shortcoming and one-size-fits-all approach that can homogenize the diversity of rural spaces and schools. Against this dominance of distributive justice, a politics of recognition, through the work of Young, Fraser, and Honneth, is key to enhance the resignification and value of the rural space, knowledge, and schooling. To illustrate the need for a plural approach to social justice, two issues in rural education are particularly important: the constitution of the rural school curriculum and the perennial problem of recruiting and retaining school staff. While distribution of resources is important, at the core of both issues is a need for the social respect and cultural resignification of rural knowledge, experiences, and ways of life. This approach that takes recognition theory seriously into account, as well as distributive justice, helps to better understand how rural schooling can be socially just.

Article

Biotypology, Body, Sex, Gender, and Sports in the Formation of Physical Education Teachers in Uruguay, 1948–1967  

Paola Dogliotti Moro and Evelise Amgarten Quitzau

Biotypology was the Latin branch of eugenics. In Uruguay, biotypology had mainly instrumental and practical implementations in physical education and sports. Between 1948 and 1967, it was part of the Academic Programmes incorporated into the Higher Institute of Physical Education teacher training curricula and influenced other subjects taught at the institute. The work of Italian physician Nicola Pende was highly influential on Uruguayan biotypology. Many Higher Institute of Physical Education students produced degree theses explicitly based on Pende’s ideas. In these theses, there is an articulation between biology and psychology to determine and adapt physical education to different stages of individual development. Biomedical knowledge, mainly based on endocrinology, was used to determine the most suitable bodily practices for men and women. This knowledge was also used to assess normality standards for men and women, establishing the “normal” behavior, exercises, and physical performances that should be observed and trained by physical education teachers. Thus, the most practical and evident expression of eugenics in the field of physical education and sport in Uruguay was developed based on biotypological premises through a specific local and instrumental translation shaped by a mixture of measuring instruments and techniques, rates, and coefficients of Latin origin (influenced by Nicola Pende’s ideas), complemented with anthropometric measurements of Saxon influence. These premises directly impacted the students’ ideas on physical exercise, health, sport, and gender. Uruguayan biotypology’s postulates promoted a differentiated, binary, exclusionary physical education between men and women. It delineated specific body types for each one and particular ways of being, behaving, and moving that placed women in a lower hierarchy, which was reinforced and articulated with other social inequalities.