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Asia Literacy in Australian Schools and the Move Toward Broader Intercultural Understanding  

Emily S. Rudling

Asia literacy is an Australian education policy goal intended to educate Australian school students about Asian languages, cultures, and economies and, in turn, deepen Australian engagement with the Asian region. First defined in 1988, the concept has since been adapted by a suite of Asia education policies with more than 60 relevant policy documents having been published since the 1950s. However, despite being a cornerstone education policy, political vagaries have prevented the widespread and sustained implementation of Asia literacy education in schools. Tied to the broader goal of engaging with Asia, Asia literacy is in conflict with a sense of an Australian national identity and entangled with Australian economic, education, and foreign policies. A thematic review of the extant policy data and scholarly literature reveals several flaws in Asia literacy policy. Namely, it is underpinned by several assumptions: Asia literacy is learned in formal education; Asia is a knowable entity; proficiency in languages, cultures, and economies equates to Asia literacy; and Asia literacy is assumed to resolve national disengagement from Asia. This approach fails to account for everyday Asia literacy enlivened in the multicultural and multilingual Australian society. Scholars have argued that this “others” Asia from everyday Australian life. The implications of this model of Asia literacy play out in the classroom with few teachers reporting confidence in teaching Asia literacy content, and enrollments in Asia-related subjects being perpetually low. Newer policy imperatives which stipulate the teaching and learning of intercultural competencies may help to dissolve the construct of the Asian other and enliven Asia literacy in the classroom beyond knowledge of languages and cultures. If pursued, this can foster dynamic knowledge of Asia in Australian schools, bringing Asia closer to the everyday and enhancing engagement with the Asian region.

Article

Asian American and Pacific Islander Children  

Valerie Ooka Pang, Benjamin Chang, Yoon K. Pak, Audrey Hokoda, Noreen Naseem Rodríguez, and Esther June Kim

Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are often invisible to others. AAPI children are even more ignored in schools. They comprise many different groups with diverse cultures, languages, values, geographical roots, and ethnicities. This is why we have chosen to write about AAPI young people and not to limit our discussions to Asian Americans. We believe in inclusivity and so use the pan-Asian term of AAPIs. Some children may be Guamanian American, Thai American, Taiwanese American, Samoan American, Hawaiian American, Fijian American, Filipinx American, or a combination of several ethnic or racial backgrounds. Not all AAPI youth are the same. This is a major AAPI issue that teachers need to understand. Often teachers hold the misconception that most AAPIs are Chinese American. This is not true. One of the reasons that teachers and the general public are not aware of the educational, social, or psychological needs of AAPI children is because of the model minority myth. Not all AAPI students do well in school. Research has shown that young people have different academic strengths and vulnerabilities. These distinctions may be due to many variables such as ethnic membership, class status, parent education, and language proficiency in English. The model minority stereotype hurts and conceals the hardships that many AAPIs face, from low self-esteem to academic limitations. In addition, there are AAPI students who must deal with trauma from microaggressions that young people face because they are bullied due to accents, differences in physical appearance, and cultural conflicts. Others have come to the United States experiencing trauma as refugees who fled civil persecution or war. In addition, students who are LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) and AAPI may have to deal with the trauma of homophobia. Teachers must be able to identify ways to reduce trauma in schools like using culturally relevant/responsive strategies to help lessen student depression and anxieties. There are numerous approaches that teachers can take to develop compassionate classrooms in a democracy where all students are accepted and respected. They can teach compassion and kindness. Educators can teach about the contributions of various AAPI civil rights role models such as Grace Lee Boggs, Larry Itliong, Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Philip Vera Cruz, Patsy Mink, and Yuri Kochiyama in the curriculum. Teaching about civil rights activists demonstrates to children and adults that AAPIs have been actively fighting for the rights of all. In addition, teachers can integrate AAPI children’s literature so students are aware of cultural values, experiences, and knowledge that has arisen from AAPI communities. All students should have the opportunity to see photos and drawings of various AAPI people in picturebooks and other texts. AAPI students are not super students; they are not math whiz kids. They are Americans like anyone else, with strengths and limitations.

Article

Extremism, Values, and Education in Policy and Practice  

Lynn Revell and Sally Elton-Chalcraft

The relationship between extremism and schools is a seemingly contradictory one. The UK Prevent Duty’s aim (to prevent and also root out extremism in schools) is often, ironically, blamed for aiding the radicalization process, but it is also identified by states and international bodies as a primary tool with which to combat it. In the early 21st century there has been a development of policies and law designed to prevent violent extremism (PVE) as a part of an international response to 9/11 in 2001 and the war on terror. Policy approaches to extremism in education were revised and reworked in the first and second decades of the 21st century in response to various events, including the 2005 London and 2017 Manchester bombings, and the increasing fear that education system had allowed homegrown terrorists raised in England to commit terrorist acts. The promotion of fundamental British values in school and teacher education contexts has been met with varied responses. Since the inception of this strategy, it has been criticized from a number of perspectives. The National Union of Teachers passed a motion at its annual conference in 2016 condemning the idea of promoting “fundamental British values” as an act of cultural supremacism and other researchers have noted that conceptually the strategy is flawed and counterproductive. In 2014 a document that was to become known as the Trojan Horse letter was leaked to Birmingham City Council, which outlined an alleged plot by hardline jihadists to take over a number of Birmingham schools. The outcome of the affair had ramifications beyond that initial cluster of schools and impacted on the way all schools engaged with the counterterrorism agenda. The furor surrounding the event acted as a catalyst for the generation of policy that introduced an even greater meshing between education and the security agenda, resulting in the concepts of Muslims being seen as a “suspect community” and teachers being positioned as “agents of surveillance.” Research has also investigated the extent to which there has been a “chilling effect” in educational settings in the early 21st century as a result of the Prevent policy, with both teachers and learners feeling under scrutiny, and cautious about speaking freely in their educational environment. Many researchers consider that teachers face a dilemma—to deliver governmental policy uncritically (the safe option to ensure compliance and positive outcomes in terms of Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills); or to challenge a perceived governmental stranglehold and take the more risky option, whereby teachers critically explore effective ways of promoting British values. Some scholars in the second decade of the 21st century have argued that teachers have subsumed counterterrorism policy into their own safeguarding practice. Extremism, values, and education is an emerging field in educational research, that is uncovering (among other things) the extent to which educational professionals from Early Years to university level challenge the prejudicial implications of the Prevent Duty legislation, are providing open spaces for critical and informed debate, and are adhering to policy to prevent violent extremism.

Article

From Curriculum Theory to Theorizing  

Gabriel Huddleston and Robert Helfenbein

Curriculum theory is shaped and held within the larger field of curriculum studies, but its distinctive focus on understanding curriculum as opposed to developing it places it is stark contrast with other parts of the larger field. This focus is further distinctive when curriculum theory shifts to curriculum theorizing. Curriculum theorizing emerged in the United States, principally at Bergamo conferences and precursor conferences, in the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (JCT), and through scholars associated with the reconceptualization. It has spread internationally via the International Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies and its subsidiaries in many different countries and cultures. Some scholars hold that curriculum theory includes curriculum theorizing as well as normative and analytic conceptualizations that justify or explain curriculum decisions and actions. Curriculum theorizing attempts to read broadly in social theory so as to embody those insights in dealing with issues of curriculum, and can take philosophical, sociological, psychological, historical, or cultural studies approaches to analyses, interpretations, criticisms, and improvements. This approach has built upon what has become known as the reconceptualization, which began in the late 1970s and continues into the early 21st century. Increasingly, the field has taken up analysis of contemporary education policy and sociopolitical contexts as an outgrowth of its work. Issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, and dis/ability, and the ways in which their intersectionality impact the lived experience of schools, continue to motivate and direct the field of curriculum studies. In so doing, criticism, analysis, interpretation, and expansion of such issues have moved the focus of curriculum theorizing to include any aspects of social and psychological life that educate or shape the ways human beings reflect upon or interact with the world.

Article

Inclusion and Pacific Island Countries  

Ann Cheryl Armstrong and Derrick Armstrong

The Pacific island countries occupy over 1000 islands in the world’s largest ocean. Their histories and traditions have created bonds between nations that run deep in the cultures of the region. Yet, across this vast ocean, the cultures of the region also differ significantly. The introduction of Western forms of education have often ignored these cultures. Currently, “inclusive education” programs are being promoted in the region, particularly by outside agencies and funding bodies. The disability-inclusion model that underpins many of these initiatives comes from outside the region, and attempts to engage with the cultures of the region in promoting these initiatives have tended to be very limited. Often the initiatives promote an agenda that draws its direction and purpose from the donor countries rather than those of aid-recipient countries. Interaction between cultures over different perspectives and priorities is very healthy but the process of implementation can also easily be detached from the experience and worldviews of the recipients of these programs. Engaging with cultures and the social experience of the citizens of the island countries of the Pacific should be the starting point for the development of educational policy and practice so that the disempowerment of external imposition is avoided. In this chapter we argue that the inclusive education narrative of the Pacific island countries is often subsumed by, and therefore becomes ‘lost’ within, the broader context of the Asia-Pacific which is much larger and includes the world’s most populous countries. We conclude by advocating that research needs to be conducted on issues and cultures in the Pacific region that can contribute to the development of more meaningful and contextual approaches to inclusive education.

Article

Restorative Justice in Education  

Kristin Elaine Reimer and Crystena Parker-Shandal

Restorative justice in education (RJE) is a philosophical framework that centers relationships in schools, calls attention to issues of justice and equity, and provides processes to heal harm and transform conflict. The use of restorative justice (RJ) in schools gained large-scale attention from teachers and school boards since the 2010s. In the 1990s and early 2000s many school boards around the world took up what was generally known as “zero tolerance” approaches. It meant that punitive responses, such as suspension, expulsion, and exclusionary practices, were used by administrators and teachers more readily and frequently. Research continues to show that exclusionary punishments are harmful—especially to Indigenous students, students of color, and other marginalized students—in many ways, for example, increasing dropout rates, decreasing overall student achievement, and strengthening the school-to-prison pipeline. Gaining more momentum in the 2010s (although practiced by many teachers and communities before this), RJ approaches became a way to challenge a system that was simply not working and further harming students. Many educators and school boards saw RJE as a means to reduce suspensions and expulsions and to increase their graduation rates. Others have seen RJE as a critical process for facilitating school equity and racial justice. This continuum of approaches to RJE impacts how research is conducted, what research questions are asked, who is included in the research process, and how it is disseminated. While some researchers still position RJE as solely an alternative to punitive disciplinary models, an increasing number of researchers view RJE as a paradigm shift for how people relate to one another in the context of schools, including through relational approaches to pedagogy. This relational way of being centers people’s humanity and promotes shared accountability within learning communities.

Article

Sonic Ethnography in Theory and Practice  

Walter S. Gershon

As its name suggests, sonic ethnography sits at the intersection of studies of sound and ethnographic methodologies. This methodological category can be applied to interpretive studies of sound, ethnographic studies that foreground sound theoretically and metaphorically, and studies that utilize sound practices similar to those found in forms of audio recording and sound art, for example. Just as using ocular metaphors or video practices does not make an ethnographic study any more truthful, the use of sonic metaphors or audio recording practices still requires the painstaking, ethical, reflexivity, time, thought, analysis, and care that are hallmarks for strong ethnographies across academic fields and disciplines. Similarly, the purpose of sonic ethnography is not to suggest that sound is any more real or important than other sensuous understandings but is instead to underscore the power and potential of the sonic for qualitative researchers within and outside of education. A move to the sonic is theoretically, methodologically, and practically significant for a variety of reasons, not least of which are (a) its ability to interrupt ocular pathways for conceptualizing and conducting qualitative research; (b) for providing a mode for more actively listening to local educational ecologies and the wide variety of things, processes, and understandings of which they are comprised; (c) ethical and more transparent means for expressing findings; and (d) a complex and deep tool for gathering, analyzing, and expressing ethnographic information. In sum, sonic ethnography opens a world of sound possibilities for educational researchers that at once deepen and provide alternate pathways for understanding everyday educational interactions and the sociocultural contexts that help render those ways of being, doing, and knowing sensible.

Article

Transnational Childhood and Education  

Aparna Tarc

The field of transnational childhood and education emerges under intensifying mobilities. These global conditions disrupt universalist educational treatments of childhood as a fixed developmental stage of human being. Transnationality shows childhood to be a psychosocially constructed experience that takes myriad form across diverse cultural, historical, educational, and political contexts. The lives of actual children are caught in colonial and national constructions of childhood and subject to its discourses, politics, and normative enactments through public schooling. The emerging field of transnational childhood and education represents a potentially critical intervention in colonial and national enactments of childhood worldwide. Despite interdisciplinary efforts to reconceptualize childhood, Western educational institutions continue to hold to and reproduce hegemonic and colonial understandings of childhood as monocultural, heteronormative, familial, innocent, and protected. Mass global flows of people, culture, and ideas compel policy-makers and educational experts worldwide to consider transnational childhood as the dominant situation of children in and across multicultural nations. The fluidity of malleable childhood experience is poised to generate new educational arrangements and innovations. Transnational lives of children de-stable normative categorizations and fixed situations placed upon children in and through the mechanisms of early childhood education and national schooling. Researchers of transnational childhood and education engage a range of educational experiences and arrangements of children moving within, across, and outside of formal and national schooling institutions. Increasingly children and families are caught in experiences produced by global, geo-political conditions including: war, forcible migration, detainment on borders, internal colonization, and environmental catastrophe. To respond to the times, families and communities seek out and/or are forced to provide opportunities and alternatives for children outside of school. Increasingly children use emergent digital and other forms of remote and inventive means of education. As research in this area is new, transdisciplinary, and ground-breaking, the study of transnational childhoods and education has the potential to radically innovate and deepen the meanings and possibilities of both childhood and education in a rapidly globalizing, uncertain, and changing world.