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Article

Academic Optimism  

Martinette V. Horner, Derrick D. Jordan, and Kathleen M. Brown

Academic optimism was developed in 2006 as a latent concept that provides insight into the improvement of student outcomes especially for those who, because of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other demographics, have historically been labeled as underperforming. The three main components of academic optimism (academic emphasis, collective emphasis, and faculty trust) underscore the reality that the teachers, parents, and students all play a critical role in the education arena when it comes to ensuring that students fully grow and stretch to the fullest extent possible. High academic optimism in a school suggests that academic achievement is valued and supported; the faculty has the capacity to help students achieve; and students and parents can be trusted as partners of the school for student achievement. Each of these can be controlled by the actions and decisions of school leaders and faculty so that schools can overcome the effects of poverty on student achievement.

Article

Antiblackness and the Adultification of Black Children in a U.S. Prison Nation  

Amir A. Gilmore and Pamela J. Bettis

Discourses in the early 21st century surrounding the presumption of childhood innocence were undergirded by antiblackness. The theorization of antiblackness within the context of race, gender, and education has been beneficial to understanding how the mistreatment of Black children and the illegitimacy of Black childhoods within the white American racial imaginary is seemingly justified. Foundational to the United States, antiblackness is a race-based paradigm of racial othering and subjugation through a litany of organized structural violence against Black people. Structured outside the realms of humanity and civil society, Black life, through this paradigm, is regarded as other than human. Arguably, antiblackness shapes all racialized, gendered, sexualized conditions and experiences of all Black people, including the age compression of Black children. Antiblackness scholarship posits that there is an institutional unwillingness to see Black youth as children. Discourses on what it means to be a child, who can occupy that position, and when a particular stage of a child’s development is reached, are all structured against Black youth. Pathologized as deviant, adult-like problems, Black children occupy life in a liminal space, where they are denied childhood status but carry adult-like culpability. As adultified Black youth, they lack autonomy and are not granted leniency to learn from their mistakes like their white peers. With their actions and intentions perceived as deviant, ill-willed, or hypersexual, Black children are susceptible a wide range of violence from school punishment, the criminal justice system, sexual abuse and exploitation, and excessive police force.

Article

Aspirations to Gender Equality in Philosophy, Political Activism, and Education  

Gregory Bynum

Late 20th-century and early 21st-century social movement toward gender equality in society has been significant. Parents and educators commonly expect that all youngsters should have the same life opportunities regardless of gender. In education, girls and young women are excelling, often equaling and even surpassing boys and men in academic performance and in earning college degrees and graduate degrees. Further, women are more frequently assuming traditionally “masculine” professional roles (doctor, lawyer, manager, legislator, governor, and others) while men more frequently assume traditionally “feminine” roles, successfully taking on more child care and housework, and working in nursing and other traditionally “feminine” fields. At the same time, preferences for gender hierarchy are still strongly expressed in many areas of society. At the top of leading social institutions including government and business, men still possess far more political, economic, and intellectual leadership power and authority in comparison to women; and in reaction to political and economic power imbalances, women’s rights activists sometimes express the idea of female superiority instead of arguing for gender equality. In the area of socialization, girls and women continue experiencing high levels of gender-specific pressure to conform to narrow ideals of physical beauty and emotional supportiveness, while boys and men continue experiencing pressure to avoid communicating about their vulnerabilities and emotions, possibly stunting their emotional development and impairing their mental health. In this context, gender equality emerges as a vital, early-21st-century educational imperative that is essential in actualizing what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has designated the right of all people to an education for the “full development of the human personality.” In the gender equality imperative’s emergence in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the following elements are all interrelated: philosophical perspectives and sociopolitical developments indicating a need for gender equality, thinking and practices opposed to gender equality, and the development of pro-gender-equality educational understandings and practices.

Article

Developing Inclusive Schools in South Africa  

Petra Engelbrecht

In South Africa, new legislation and policies on inclusive education in the post-apartheid era since 1994 have placed a strong emphasis on equity, equality, and human rights, as defined in the South African Constitution. As a result, a White Paper on building an inclusive education and training system was published in 2001. It acknowledges the failure of the education system to respond to the barriers to learning and development experienced by a substantial number of learners, including diverse learning needs caused by, for example, language, socioeconomic, or gender issues as well as disabilities. This policy document describes inclusive education as being based on the ideals of equity and equality and as a result recognizing and respecting learner and learning diversity within mainstream schools. As stated in the policy, in practice this means identifying and removing barriers in the education system to ensure that the full range of diverse learning needs are met in mainstream classrooms as well as providing support to learners and teachers in addressing barriers to learning and development. Research studies on the implementation of inclusive education in South Africa, however, are finding that despite the development of a wide range of implementation guidelines since 2007, complex interrelated issues continue to complicate the development of successful inclusive schools. These issues include a continued divergence of views of inclusive education with a continuing strong belief in special education and separate educational settings by most teachers, therefore leading to a resultant lack of clarity regarding the implementation of inclusive education at the level of local practice in schools and classrooms. These differences in the understanding of inclusive education and its enactment in diverse school contexts also bring the question of power and agency into South African debates about inclusive education: who should decide which version of inclusive education should be the goal of the development of inclusive education in a specific school district or a specific school. Furthermore, contextual issues including the lack of financial and human resources, for example effectively trained teachers, effectively functioning district educational support teams for schools in specific school districts, lack of textbooks, and overcrowded classrooms, play a dominant role in the development of effective inclusive schools.

Article

Education in the Anthropocene  

Annette Gough

The term “Anthropocene” was coined in 2000 by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer to denote the present time interval as a new epoch of geological time dominated by human impact on the Earth. The starting date for the epoch is contentious—around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (ca. 1800 ce), at the start of the nuclear age, or some other time, both earlier and later than these dates. The term itself is also contentious because of its humanist and human supremacy focus, and the way it hides troublesome differences between humans (including gender and cultural differences) and the intimate relationships among technology, humans, and other animals. Endeavors such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aim to achieve gender equality by empowering women to participate in society. However, within this goal is the assumption that women and “other marginalized Others” can be assimilated within the dominant social paradigm rather than questioning the assumptions that maintain the subordination of these social groups. The goals also overlook the divergent impacts on women around the globe. Education in an Anthropocene context necessitates a different pedagogy that provides opportunities for learning to live in and engage with the world and acknowledges that we live in a more-than-human world. It also requires learners to critique the Anthropocene as a concept and its associated themes to counter the humanist perspective, which fails to consider how the nonhuman and material worlds coshape our mutual worlds. In particular, education in the Anthropocene will need to be interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or cross-disciplinary; intersectional; ecofeminist or posthumanist; indigenous; and participatory.

Article

Gender and Education in Postcolonial Contexts  

Barbara Crossouard and Máiréad Dunne

Education has been a central institution in the installation and legitimation of gender binaries and racialized difference in colonial and postcolonial eras. While the term “postcolonial” can refer to the period after which colonized nations gained their independence, a postcolonial critique also engages with the afterlife of the metaphysics of Western modernity. Notably, the imperial project of Western modernity assumed the superiority of the colonizers and provided the legitimation for the deep injustices of colonization to be framed as a “civilizing mission.” In particular, the processes of colonization imposed a “modern/colonial gender system,” which reconstructed the gender norms of many societies around the world, and which subordinated women by binding them to the domestic sphere. Its “biologic” presumed a heterosexual matrix in ways that were also profoundly racialized. Importantly, education was a critical institution that not only legitimated Western knowledges and values, but also secured women’s regulation and subordination. In postcolonial eras, education was given central importance in ways that have tied it to modern imperatives. For the newly independent postcolonial nation, education was critical in the construction of a national imaginary but this framing has reproduced rather than disrupting colonial gender norms. Harnessing education in support of national development inserted the postcolonial nation in a hierarchy of “developed” and “developing” nations. The focus on development similarly permeated efforts at curricular reform, such that they often reproduced the gendered, racialized, and classed hierarchies of colonial education. What counted as legitimate knowledge remained framed by Western elite institutions and their technologies of power. Importantly, from the moment of their independence, the global reach of multilateral organizations has constantly framed the postcolonial trajectories of “developing” nations and their educational reforms. Although often contradictory, the discourses of such organizations intensified the imperatives of education for national development. This compounded pressures to increase educational access beyond elite groups and to include more females. However, the technologies of power that support these international policy agendas bind such reforms to modern imperatives, so that they have become a critical site for the reinscription of binary understandings of gender. This is also true for contemporary international concerns for “quality” education. This is prosecuted largely through promotion of learner-centered education, a concept that is also infused with Western democratic ideals and values. Interrogation of the “hidden curriculum” further shows that the education in postcolonial contexts remains a key institution through which gender is instantiated in essentialized and binary ways, infused by modern ideals of presumptive heteronormativity. Resisting such binaries requires an understanding of gender as something that we “do,” or that we “perform,” within the contingencies and exigencies of particular social and cultural contexts. In turn, these theoretical understandings call for in-depth qualitative studies that can attend to the particularities of the gender regimes in different educational contexts and other intersecting structures of difference (race, ethnicity, religion, class, sexuality) that are rendered invisible by education’s legitimation of difference as a question of disembodied individual merit and ability.

Article

Gender-Equitable Schooling in Brazil  

Ellen Belchior Rodrigues

Brazil has done much to overcome gender inequalities rooted in settler colonialism. The implementation of social justice policies has tremendously promoted access to education, most recently to Black Brazilians, Indigenous peoples, and sexual minorities. The country offers free public education from kindergarten to college; college quotas for low-income transgender students; a monthly stipend for each underprivileged child a family maintains enrolled in school; and a national high school curriculum that includes sociology, philosophy, African history, history of Indigenous peoples, and human rights. These would not have been achieved without the efforts of the women’s rights movement and Black women’s rights movement. Brazilian women reversed the gender gap in education and paved the way for employment and political participation throughout the 20th century, attaining higher rates of retention, graduation, and schooling. Despite achievements for cisgender women, transgender students and other sexual minorities still don’t feel included in school environments. Schools can be one of the most difficult spaces for LGBTQIA+ youth in Brazil, who may be daily targets of verbal, psychological, and physical violence. These behaviors are rooted in an education system that, since its creation in the 1600s, predominantly focused on the education of Portuguese settlers’ children, namely, White boys. Two hundred years later, White girls were allowed in the classrooms, only to experience another layer of the patriarchy: Schools were scarce because the girls could only be taught by female teachers, a rarity during the colonial period, and the academic curriculum was limited and often focused on the skills of housewifery. Aimed at creating subservient wives and mothers, the Brazilian schooling system failed entire generations of women by denying them access to math, sciences, or most other subjects available to men. During the entire 1800s, White women lagged behind in access to higher education, employment, and political participation. In the meantime, Black, brown, and Indigenous people in Brazil suffered under slavery for nearly 400 years. Slavery legally ended in 1888, but cruelty and discrimination remained pervasive in society, further silencing claims for racial justice and widening the social and economic gaps in the country. Thus, the understanding of gender-equitable schooling in Brazil is only possible through the historical lenses of how its society perceives gender, race, and sexuality. This historical perspective explains how Brazil developed its teaching curriculum based on social justice principles. The history of Brazil’s educational system cannot be described without acknowledging the traumas inflicted by colonialism and slavery. However, history also explains how the country uniquely stands out as a model for thinking about the connections among education, racial and social justice, and gender inclusivity.

Article

Girls’ Schools and Empire (1800−1950)  

Hayarpi Papikyan and Rebecca Rogers

The growth of empire in the 19th century went hand in hand with a concern to address girls’ education. Girls’ schools developed within the British, French, Dutch, Ottoman, and Russian empires and, despite the variety of spatial boundaries and the differing nature of core-periphery relations, girls’ schools were the object of ideological pronouncements centered around visions of femininity. The ostensible goals for this education often shared a similar commitment to the training of good wives and mothers in order to improve the familial morals of colonized territories. In reality, the nature of girls’ schooling was far more complex and played in particular into broader political debates about the role of education in the development of enlightened female subjects and later citizens. National movements in colonized areas generated discourses about women as “mothers of the nation,” with an emphasis on domesticity, not dissimilar from earlier colonial rhetoric, while the development of girls’ schooling led a minority of women into skilled professions that challenged without upsetting existing gender relations.

Article

Masculinities and Teacher Education  

Darrell Cleveland Hucks

Teachers’ values and beliefs shape learning environments and reinforce and support their expectations of students’ behaviors. Overtime, students’ behavior undergoes a norming process that influences their understanding of gender roles and gender identity. While there have been political shifts since the early 1980s around gender roles; for many in 2021 these traditional dichotomous notions of gender roles for boys and girls still exist in schools. Many boys are still encouraged to be tough, strong, and emotionally devoid of feelings. For girls, many are encouraged to be polite, sweet, and emotional. Boys are still given a pass for being aggressive, and it is still quite acceptable for girls to be passive. This non-inclusive gender binary continues to damage us as adults and promotes behaviors that do not allow for the complexities regarding gender identity, and then add the factor of race to the mix, and it gets even more complicated and, all of this left unchallenged, can lead to toxic behavior. Various examples of toxic masculinity can be found in the now readily available videos of police officers’ negative engagement with people of color around the globe. Teachers still have tremendous opportunities to intervene and educate students at all levels in ways that embrace difference and create a more empathetic society—will they do it? And what are the implications for changes that must occur in how they are prepared via teacher education programs to work with diverse learners?

Article

Mestiza Methodology as a Hybrid Research Design  

Amanda Jo Cordova

Chicana feminists such as Maylei Blackwell, Cherrie Moraga, and Anna Nieto-Gómez of the 1960s Chicano Movement called for a gendered critique of racial activism mired in the stultification of Chicana leadership, ultimately galvanizing epistemology and theory grounded in a Chicana way of knowing. In particular, the introduction of a Chicana Feminist Epistemology in the 1990s to the field of education centered the reconciliation and healing of education, knowledge, and knowledge holders dehumanized by the exclusionary logics of colonialism pervasive in educational spaces. Consequently, crafting research methodologies of a Chicana hybrid nature, both locating and healing the fractured embodiment of knowledge educational actors draw upon, is critical to the groundwork of a more socially just educational system. Focused on the hybridity or the duality of knowing and the damage created by the colonial separation of such knowledge from knowledge holders, methodologies must be curated to locate and fuse back together what was torn apart. Mestiza Methodology was developed to locate the liminal space in which Chicanas collectively recount experiences leading to the separation of who they are and what they know in the academic arena as a means to recover, reclaim, and reconcile oneself to the pursuit of an education decolonized.

Article

Navigating Change: Pacific Islanders, Race, Sport, and Pipelines to Higher Education  

Keali'I Kukahiko

Tagata Pasifika (Pacific People) is a transnational affiliation whose collective colonial experiences provide island nations of Oceania a means for contestation over local discourses of power and race. Employing the principle of Tagata Pasifika within higher education necessitates recognition of how postsecondary institutions are significant sites of conflict that engender the collective resistance among Pasifika communities for the following reasons: (a) to close the educational opportunity gap between Pasifika communities and spheres of influence—positions of power that dictate policies, social circumstances, and human living conditions; (b) to affirm Pasifika participation in the knowledge production process by developing ontological self-efficacy and decolonizing spaces in higher education that erase and marginalize Pasifika ontologies; and (c) to engage action research as opportunities that enact various forms of sovereignty, such as the ability to participate in cultural practices as authentic and legitimate ways of knowing and being or recognizing Pasifika intellectual participation as a process of action, or inaction, informed by cultural and experiential values. A salient college access point for Pasifika communities is the phenomena of college athletics because Pasifika college football players are 56 times more likely to matriculate to the National Football League. However, low graduation rates—only 11% of Pasifika college football players graduated from the Football Championship Series college division in 2015—have made this “untraditional” pathway an extractive pipeline that provides the National Collegiate Athletic Association membership institutions with athletic labor. Although college athletes continue to have the conditions of their admissions leveraged against them to prevent student resistance/activism, student-athletes have an unprecedented potential for influence in the “post-COVID” landscape of college athletics.

Article

Queer Resilience  

Adam Greteman

Queer resilience represents the skills and abilities that are learned and developed because of adversarial experiences or stressors due to prejudice, discrimination, and violence rooted in homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. These skills and abilities are historically and contextually dependent, as well as intimately connected to related forms of prejudice, discrimination, and violence based on other forms of difference.

Article

Theories of International Development, Gender, and Education  

Xiuying Cai

Within the growing body of literature on global poverty and international development, researchers have examined varying degrees of poverty as well as different ways to measure it. Each of these approaches has generated different strategies for international development. While the gross domestic product (GDP) approach to economic growth and development is advantageous in its transparency and the ease with which it can be used to measure and compare experiences of poverty, researchers have noted problems and challenges. These, in turn, have pushed the international community to pursue the human development approach to studies on poverty, which emphasizes four integrative pillars of development: equity, sustainability, productivity, and empowerment. Women everywhere tend to suffer more than men, including those from the same ethnicity, class, and even family, from poverty and other issues related to global injustice. Attention to these specifically gendered aspects of poverty has led to feminist development theories. Due to different epistemologies, ethical beliefs, and political values, such feminist approaches have evolved into a variety of positions in terms of the relationships between gender/women and development: women in development (WID); women and development (WAD); and gender and development (GAD); postmodernism and development (PAD); women, environment, and development (WED); and the rights-and-capabilities approach. Each of these, in turn, have generated different development programs to achieve gender equity. Human capital approach and the capabilities approach have been most prominent in evaluating development, education, and gender. The mainstream development-related discourse tends to harness education to poverty reduction and women’s empowerment primarily in terms of its technological and scientific innovation and human capital development for economic production in the global knowledge economy. While putting “human” back into the international development agenda is an important step toward the human development approach, the mainstream human capital approach to education has been narrowed by neoliberal ideologies that put too much focus, if not their sole focus, on the quantifiable returns on investment in economic terms. It has hence obscured the intrinsic and ethical-political values of education. The capabilities approach can refocus education to address the global challenges of poverty, including those related to gender inequities. The capabilities approach offers a major critique of human capital theory by broadening what may be considered to be the good, or the forms of equality being sought when we mitigate the effects of poverty and gender inequities. Ultimately, it asks whether each person has the genuine opportunities to be, to do, or to become what he or she has reason to value. It conceptualizes poverty as capability deprivation and recognizes that while economic well-being is necessary, human flourishing depends on a range of dimensions of life well beyond the economic. Education, according to the capabilities approach, is not only one of the central capabilities but is also significant in promoting other capabilities and human flourishing. Thus, it takes into account not only the intrinsic value of education but also the instrumental value of education to promote economic growth as well as social change and gender equity.

Article

Trans Gender/Queer Youth  

Alandis A. Johnson

Trans and gender/queer youth pose some interesting scenarios for education in both secondary and postsecondary realms. Increasing identifications outside of binaries among students, faculty, and staff members who identify as transgender, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary have pushed schools to alter the way these individuals are recognized within these systems. These changes involve deconstructing binaries and the related exclusionary processes and policies. Transgender and gender-expansive youth are challenging the ways in which gender is built into schools, highlighting underlying binaries and structural oppression in all levels of education. Key issues and debates regarding transgender inclusion in educational spheres, such as Title IX, visibility, and knowledge of transgender issues, routes to inclusion, and the fallacy of “best practice.” Generational and cultural differences related to gender recognition and identification will continue to shape educational environments and beyond for years to come.

Article

Women and Education in the Middle East and North Africa  

Shahrzad Mojab

Education as a right has been integral to a more than a century-long struggle by women for liberation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The region is vast and diverse in its history, culture, politics, language, and religion. Therefore, in the study of women and education in the MENA region, it is imperative to consider particularities of each nation’s different historical and political formation in tandem with universal forces, conditions, and structures that shape the success or failure of women’s access to and participation in education. Historically, the greatest leap forward in women’s education began from the mid-20th century onward. The political, social, and economic ebb and flow of the first two decades of the 21st century is reflected on women’s education. Thus, the analysis of the current conditions should be situated in the context of the past and the provision for the future. It is crucial to make references to earlier periods, especially where relevant, to anticolonial and national liberation struggles as well as modern nation-building and the women’s rights movements. The empirical evidence aptly demonstrates that in most of the countries in the region, women’s participation in secondary and higher education is surpassing that of men. However, neither their status nor their social mobility have been positively affected. Women’s demand for “bread, work, democracy, and justice” is tied to education in several ways. First, education is a site of social and political struggle. Second, it is an institution integral to the formation and expansion of capitalist imperialism in the MENA region. Last, education is constituted through, not separated from, economic and political relations. The absence of some themes in the study of women and education reflects this structural predicament. Topics less studied are women as teachers and educators; women and teachers’ union; women and religious education and seminaries; women and the missionary schools; women in vocational education; women and the study abroad programs; girls in early childhood education; women and mother tongue education; women and the education of minorities; women and continuing education; women and academic freedom; and women and securitization of education. To study these themes also requires a range of critical methodological approaches. Some examples are ethnographical studies of classrooms, institutional ethnographies of teachers’ unions, analysis of memoirs of teachers and students, and critical ethnography of students’ movements. The proposed theoretical and methodological renewal is to contest the tendency in the study of education in the MENA region that renders patriarchal state and capitalism invisible.