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Article

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

Climate Change and Social Resilience  

Edgar J. González-Gaudiano and Ana Lucía Maldonado-González

Without having yet overcome the problems that gave rise to climate change, the field of environmental education faces new challenges because of the onslaughts of this phenomenon. Growing contingents of people in many parts of the world are periodically affected by extreme hydro-meteorological phenomena, such as severe droughts in Africa and increasingly intense cyclones that affect tropical coastal areas. These environmental threats can be aggravated by decades of investment in development programs at the global and local levels that end up affecting vulnerable populations the most. Its consequences have generated synergic processes of humanitarian emergencies of unprecedented magnitude, in the form of increasing waves of temporary or permanently displaced populations, because of disasters, water and food shortages, as well as armed conflicts and social violence that demand more resources to alleviate long-standing poverty and environmental degradation. This complex situation entails colossal challenges but also new opportunities to face processes of environmental education, which require a different strategic approach to trigger processes of social resilience when communities face adversities. This, in a stable, organized way and to allow societies to learn from them, encourages changes that the societies consider necessary to reduce their risks and vulnerabilities. Social resilience is not a state to be achieved, but a community process in continuous movement, in which various actors and social agents participate. Some of the community actions to be carried out during a social resilience capacity building process must be oriented toward mitigating physical and social vulnerability, adapting to the new conditions generated by climate change, and managing risks, among other actions that invite collective learning of lived experiences. For instance, a case study carried out with high school students in the municipalities of La Antigua, Cotaxtla, and Tlacotalpan in the state of Veracruz (Mexico) allowed researchers to better understand the social resilience construction processes. Initially, an attempt was made to analyze the social representation of climate change in communities vulnerable to floods resulting from extreme tropical storms. Subsequently, the way in which the students perceived their risks and their vulnerability was investigated, as well as the guidelines that govern the community behavior in the face of climate events with extreme values (magnitude, intensity, duration), which tended to exceed the capacities of communities to face them appropriately. Youngsters were chosen because they are a highly influential population in the promotion of social resilience, as they are often voluntarily and spontaneously involved in situations of community emergency. This has allowed an understanding of possible routes to undertake environmental education processes, aimed at strengthening capacities so that affected people can adapt to the changes and have strategies to reduce disaster risks in the face of specific critical events. Although the studies examined here are based on experiences in communities in the Mexican coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico, the authors of this article are convinced that their findings can be useful in developing equivalent programs in communities that are similarly vulnerable.

Article

Dino Pacio Lindín and “The School in Apartments,” and a Learning-Service Program in Loisaida, New York  

Xosé Manuel Malheiro-Gutiérrez

In the early 1970s, a University of Rochester sociology professor of Galician origin carried out an interesting experiment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan with a group of university students. This experiment consisted of a solidary exchange through which the students taught English to the members of a marginalized community of Hispanic immigrants with few economic opportunities and who did not speak the English language. In exchange, the immigrants lodged the students in their houses. “The school in apartments,” a community learning-service program, was the basis for subsequent projects.

Article

Effective Practices for Helping Students Transition to Work  

Michael Shevlin, John Kubiak, Mary-Ann O'Donovan, Marie Devitt, Barbara Ringwood, Des Aston, and Conor McGuckin

People with disabilities have been among the most marginalized groups within society, with consequent limitations imposed on their access to many goods within society, including education, employment, and economic independence. Some progress is evident in the establishment of more inclusive learning environments, yet it is also clear that upon leaving compulsory education or further/higher education, young people with disabilities encounter significant barriers to accessing meaningful employment. Facilitating transitions to employment for people with disabilities should be informed by ambition and a belief in the capacity of these individuals to make a meaningful contribution to society and achieve a level of economic independence. The issues that are pertinent to young people who have a special educational need or a disability and an aspiration to transition to further/higher education require attention. Research and applied practice has demonstrated the utility of an innovative educational and work readiness program for people with an intellectual disability. Such work highlights the facilitating factors that may encourage a more ambitious reimagining of what may be possible for individuals who have been marginalized.

Article

Ethnographies of Development in SADC Countries  

Maropeng Modiba and Sandra Stewart

Postcolonial ethnographic studies in Africa and, specifically, in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region tend to demonstrate varying sensitivity to local knowledge systems and culture. Ethnographers, both local and international, differ in the ways in which they engage with these aspects. Studies expose shifts, or lack thereof, in the mindsets of researchers. In general, researchers take for granted their cultural ideals and how to embrace broader responsibilities beyond the education or development initiatives they are studying. Although rhetorically supportive of the education/development of the subaltern, some studies selected and reviewed in this article indicate the researchers’ missionary dispositions and reliance on preconceived notions in making sense of the behavior and environments studied. To varying degrees fragmentations in perceptions, anthropological empathy, reluctance to acknowledge African contexts and ways of living as adequate in themselves stand out rather than deliberate efforts to preserve the internal cultures and knowledge systems of the communities and expand their knowledge and skills in sustainable ways.

Article

Homeschooling in the United States: Growth With Diversity and More Empirical Evidence  

Brian D. Ray

Homeschooling (home education) is parent-directed, family-based education, and is typically not tax-funded, with parents choosing assistance from other individuals or organizations. Home-based education was nearly extinct in the United States by the 1970s but grew rapidly during the 1990s to about 2.6 million K–12 homeschool students in March of 2020 to then about 5 million in March of 2021. The demographic variety among homeschooling families rapidly increased during the 2000s to the point that in 2016, 41% of homeschool students were of ethnic minority background, with about 79% of those living in nonpoor households, and with parents’ formal education levels similar to national averages. Since the early 2000s, parents’ main reasons for homeschooling have shifted from an emphasis on religious or moral instruction to a somewhat more emphasis on concern about institutional school environments and the academic instruction in schools. Empirical research shows that the home educated, on average, perform above average in terms of academic achievement, social and emotional development, and success into adulthood (including college studies). However, there is scholarly debate about whether enough well-controlled studies have confirmed these overall benefits. Some theories have been proposed to explain the apparent positive effects. They include the concept that elements such as high levels of parental involvement, one-on-one instruction, low student-to-teacher ratios, effective use of time, more academic learning time, customization of learning experiences, and a safe and comfortable learning environment that are systemically a part of home-based education are conducive to children thriving in many ways. However, more research is needed to test these theories.

Article

Indigenous Language Revitalization  

Anne Marie Guerrettaz and Mel M. Engman

Countless Indigenous languages around the world are the focus of innovative community regeneration efforts, as the legacies of colonialism have created conditions of extreme sociopolitical, educational, and economic adversity for the speakers of these languages—and their descendants. In response to these conditions that Indigenous people face globally, the burgeoning field of Indigenous language revitalization and maintenance has emerged since the 1990s with the goal of supporting speakers of these languages and future generations. Indigenous language revitalization involves different but often interlocking domains of research, practice, and activism. Given the uniqueness of each community and their desires, history, values, and culture, the significance of the local is critical to the global phenomenon that is language revitalization. For instance, cases on five different continents offer valuable insights into this field, including the Hawaiian language in Oceania; Myaamia in the United States (North America); Básáa in the Cameroon (Africa); Sámi in Finland (Europe); and, Cristang and Malay in Malaysia (Asia). These offer examples of both local resources and common challenges that characterize revitalization efforts. The field of Indigenous language revitalization is interdisciplinary in nature, exemplified through five lines of inquiry that significantly contribute to this area of research: (a) theoretical linguistics and anthropology, (b) applied linguistics, (c) education, (d) policy studies, and (e) critical studies, including postcolonial studies, Indigenous studies, and raciolinguistics. Questions of research ethics are central to the field of Indigenous language revitalization since reciprocity and collaboration between researchers and Indigenous communities matter as the lifeblood of Indigenous language revitalization work. Finally, we believe that the notion of Indigenous language revitalization pedagogies along with underexplored Indigenous concepts (e.g., from Yucatecan and Māori scholars) offer compelling directions for future research.

Article

Labeling and Inclusive Education  

Fraser Lauchlan and Christopher Boyle

The use of labels in inclusive education is a complex issue. Some have argued that labels are a necessary evil in the allocation of limited resources in order to support children with specific additional support needs, and others argue that they bring comfort and relief for children and their families and lead to an intervention program that will improve children’s educational opportunities. Further arguments about the use of labels have included that they lead to a wider and better understanding of certain needs that children may have, and thus there is more tolerance and less stigmatization among the general public. However, counterarguments can be made for each of these issues as to whether the use of labels can truly be considered a valuable practice in the sphere of inclusive education.

Article

The Artist-Teacher  

Esther Sayers

Artists who teach or teachers who make art? To explore the identity of the artist-teacher in contemporary educational contexts, the ethical differences between the two fields of art and learning need to be considered. Equity is sought between the needs of the learner and the demands of an artist’s practice; a tension exists here because the nurture of the learner and the challenge of art can be in conflict. The dual role of artist and of teacher have to be continually navigated in order to maintain the composite and ever-changing identity of the artist-teacher. The answer to the question of how to teach art comes through investigating attitudes to knowledge in terms of the hermeneutical discourses of “reproduction” and “production” as a means to understand developments in pedagogy for art education since the Renaissance. An understanding of the specific epistemological discourses that must be navigated by artist-teachers when they develop strategies for learning explicate the role of art practices in considering the question: What to teach? The answer lies in debates around technical skills and the capacity for critical thought.

Article

The Impact of International Experiential Learning and the Community and University Partnership Supporting Global Citizenship in U.S. Schools  

Elisabeth Krimbill, Lawrence Scott, and Amy Carter

As global citizens, we have an increasing international interdependence that now impacts the way we solve problems and interact with one another. Intentionally planed travel abroad has the potential to transform lives by creating a greater global and personal awareness, where adolescents see themselves as not just members of their local community, but also a global community. In an attempt to prepare students for an international and interdependent world, one inner-city nonprofit agency partnered with a local university in South Texas to provide overseas experiential learning opportunities paired with service-learning projects. Through one innovative program, more than 600 students have traveled to more than 20 countries as a full-immersion experience, most of which were centered on service-learning opportunities. The students in this program had the opportunity to examine their prejudices, assumptions, and fears while learning about themselves and developing deeper relationships with members of their school and local community through global outreach.

Article

The Principles, Possibilities and Politics of Community-Based Educational Research  

Lesley Wood

Globally, there is a shift toward embracing educational research with a social justice intent, based on the principles of inclusion, authentic participation, and democratic decision-making. This shift toward doing research with, rather than on, participants could be seen as a reaction to the criticism of contemporary universities being exclusive and in need of finding ways to connect with traditionally marginalized groups. Universities need to be more responsive to the real learning and development needs of communities and use their theoretical knowledge to complement and facilitate, rather than direct, research conducted in partnership with those whose lives are directly affected by the phenomenon being studied. Community-based educational research accepts local knowledge as the starting point of sustainable change and the learning and development of all involved as an important outcome of the research process. Community-based research thus has an educative intent; it is also inherently political since it aims to change systems that breed inequity. Yet these very characteristics stand in opposition to the neoliberal, silo-like models of operation in academia, where the bottom line trumps social impact in most strategic decisions. Negotiating the bureaucratic boundaries regarding the ethics of community-based research becomes a major hurdle for most researchers and often leads to compromises that contradict and undermine the ideal of partnership and equitable power relations. There is a pressing need to rethink how we “do” community-based educational research to ensure it is truly educational for all. This begs the question, in what ways does the academy need to change to accommodate educational research that contributes to the sustainable learning and development of people and to the democratization of knowledge? Community-based educational research can help close the gap between theory and practice, between academic and community researcher.