Letter from the Editor

Education is one of humanity’s universal endeavors. It is essential for all ages, as both a part of formal institutions, involving schools, universities, etc., and informal ones, involving socialization, acculturation, etc. Education is central to both cultural survival and change, and thus invokes deeply held beliefs which can, and do, conflict with one another. Reflecting these characteristics, educational research is voluminous and varied, with points of agreement embedded in contesting theories and views. It must address such fundamental considerations as well as guide governmental institutions and, as a result, cannot escape the demands to be practical, empirical, and theoretical. These demands can conflict but also invite scholarship that is deep and wide-ranging, making the endeavor both exciting and important.

As a field of study, education draws widely from other disciplines while constituting a discourse all its own. It is simultaneously a field of study, a set of social and professional practices, and a range of social institutions. Educational researchers are concerned with the purposes of education, how people learn, the implications of various ways of teaching, the pedagogical and social effects of organizational and institutional arrangements, and ultimately with improvement in all these. They examine education’s relation to and effect upon culture, socialization, politics, national and international development, social change, social maintenance, and conflict. Educational researchers study informal learning, public pedagogies, technologies, social problems and social contexts. They are also charged with sorting out various schemes to improve effectiveness and efficiency, distinguishing between fad and improvement, hype and substance.

The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education will be the authoritative resource for those who wish to understand this complex field of inquiry and endeavor. Education is one of the largest fields of study across the globe. It is of concern to citizens and parents, politicians and policymakers, educators and scholars. The ORE of Education provides thorough and balanced syntheses of what is known, what is disputed, and what is in progress in education research. The syntheses will be gateways to new domains of inquiry, providing provocative ideas and incisive critiques as well as addressing the broad controversies that mark education. As it continues to expand, the ORE of Education aims to become a singular resource for access to all that is known and all that is being thought in and about education.

The digital format of the ORE of Education enables continuously revisable articles so that there is minimal lag between primary research and the syntheses provided in the Encyclopedia. It is a resource that invites repeated perusal. As a born-digital resource, the Encyclopedia is able to offer multimedia content both in terms of providing substantive videos and audio recordings as well as cross-links that are embedded so that readers can follow a point across the ORE of Education, Oxford University Press’s other scholarly resources, and the wider literature to discern novel connections or digressions. The ORE of Education enables the development of definitive understandings as well as the creative exploration of ideas.

Advisory and editorial boards of top-tier, internationally recognized scholars in major sub-disciplines in the field have come together to guide the project. The contributions, written by recognized authorities in the subject, are subject to blind peer review, as well as scrupulous oversight by the international Editorial Board, all distinguished and visionary experts in educational research.

Education is key to the future of our world, and we invite students, citizens, policymakers, professionals, and scholars from all areas to explore what educational research can contribute to making this future meaningful, productive, and sustainable. In the heated educational debates of today, knowledge is power, and the ORE of Education enables all to be knowledgeable.

George W. Noblit, PhD
Joseph R. Neikirk Distinguished Professor of Sociology of Education Emeritus
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill