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The field of curriculum studies has long been tormented by a disputatious literature over theory and practice and the proper way to pursue curriculum inquiry. Roughly in the middle of the last century standard practical pursuits came into question with a dizzying array of postmodern critiques. Countering both the practical pursuits under criticism and the postmodern reconceptualist critical literature, Joseph J. Schwab advanced a theory of The Practical. Schwab’s writing remains relevant, and theoretical debates on curriculum inquiry regularly reference Schwab. These debates are driven by fundamentally different philosophical views on theory and practice and their place in curriculum studies. Although the reconceptualist literature has become theoretical orthodoxy in the field of curriculum studies, the debate is kept alive by writers who draw on Schwab’s theory of The Practical. However, little progress in mutual understanding has resulted because debate is focused on theoretical parameters, assertions, and positions at the expense of the practice of inquiry. We believe that turning attention to what people do in curriculum inquiry rather than pursuing theoretic prescriptions of how people should think in curriculum studies would help move the field forward. Our “Practical” Schwab-based work in personal practical knowledge and in narrative inquiry over the years, culminating in our current large-scale, seven-year-long longitudinal comparative education study, Reciprocal Learning Partnership Research between Canada and China, is illustrative. Using a commonplaces of inquiry framework developed by Schwab, we detail practical research qualities of The Practical and of the Reciprocal Learning Partnership Project. We discuss the situational starting and end points of curriculum inquiry in the Reciprocal Learning Partnership with special reference to the moral quality of practical situations studied. We further describe the nature of qualified knowledge outcomes in inquiry, qualities of the researcher agent, method and its relationship to a flexible, shifting database, and the understanding that inquiry and situations studied are the outcomes of narrative histories. This Schwab-based comparative education work begins with a moral position on a practical international situation and builds cross-cultural reciprocal learning strategies and outcomes using diverse theoretical positions and methodologies. In so doing Schwab’s “The Practical” is demonstrated by a new model of comparative curriculum studies. There is much to criticize in this work but there is also, we believe, much in which to take pride. Canadian and Chinese educators and their practices are enhanced through reciprocal learning. Improving practice has its own theoretical, and personal, rewards apart from the security achieved by theoretical consistency pursued by The Theoretic. Our hope is that something new in the contentious arena of curriculum studies may emerge if deliberation revolved around competing curriculum inquiry practices rather than around competing theoretical ideas on the nature of curriculum inquiry. Should this hope be unrealized, we nevertheless believe that Reciprocal Learning as an exemplar of The Practical provides useful direction for comparative curriculum studies.

Article

Jing Xiao and Paul Newton

Educational leadership as a concept refers to leadership across multiple levels and forms of educational institutions. The challenges facing school leaders in Canada center on the changing demographics of communities and school populations, shifts in Canadian society, and workload intensification related to factors such as increasing accountability regimes and changing expectations of schools. Although education in Canada is largely a matter of provincial jurisdiction, there are some similarities with respect to the challenges facing institutions across Canada. While regional differences occur, general trends in challenges can be observed throughout Canada. There are challenges related to the changing demographics and social context that include increases in immigrant and refugee populations, the growing numbers of Indigenous students and the implications of truth and reconciliation for settler and indigenous communities, the increased awareness of gender and sexual identity, and linguistic and religious diversity. There are also challenges related to the shifting policy context and public discourse with respect to the expectations of public schooling. These challenges include the necessity for schools to respond to the mental health and well-being of students and staff, the increasing pressures with respect to accountability and large-scale assessments, and the demands of parents and community members of schools and school leaders. The changing roles and responsibilities of school leaders have resulted in workload intensification and implications for leader recruitment and retention.

Article

Jo-ann Archibald – Q’um Q’um Xiiem

Canadian Indigenous education includes education for Indigenous learners at all levels and ages and learning about Indigenous peoples’ history, cultures/knowledges, and languages for all learners in educational systems. In Canada, the journey of Indigenous people toward self-determination for Indigenous education continues to be a key challenge for government, policy makers, and Indigenous organizations. Self-determination approaches are not new. They originated in traditional forms of education that were created by and for Indigenous peoples. These authentic Indigenous approaches were disrupted by colonial educational policies enacted by state (federal government) and church that separated Indigenous children from their families and communities through boarding and Indian residential schools for over 100 years. Generations of Indigenous people were negatively impacted by these colonial educational policies and legislation, which contributed to lower educational levels among Indigenous peoples compared to non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. In response, Indigenous peoples have resisted assimilationist attempts by organizing politically, engaging in national research and commissions, and developing educational organizations to regain and revitalize self-determining approaches to Indigenous education. Indigenous peoples have played significant decision-making roles through the following national policies, research, and commissions that created opportunities for educational change: the 1972 Indian Control of Indian Education Policy; the 1991–1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples; and the 2008–2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. A prevalent discourse in Canadian education specifically and Canadian society generally is about reconciliation. For Indigenous peoples, reconciliation cannot happen until educational systems ensure that Indigenous peoples have a central role in making policy and programmatic decisions, and that Indigenous knowledge systems are placed respectfully and responsibly in education at all levels. Another common discourse is about Indigenizing the Academy or Indigenizing education, which also cannot occur without Indigenous people’s direct involvement in key decision-making approaches. The Indigenous educational landscape in Canada is showing signs of slow but steady growth through Indigenous self-determination and Indigenous knowledge approaches to teaching, learning, and research.

Article

As a form of applied research, program evaluation is concerned with determining the worth, merit, or value of a program or project using various research methods. Over the past 20 years, the field of program evaluation has seen an expansion in the number of approaches deemed useful in accomplishing the goals of an evaluation. One of the newest approaches to the practice of evaluation is culturally responsive evaluation. Practitioners of CRE draw from a “responsive approach” to evaluation that involves being attuned to and responsive toward not only the program itself, but also its larger cultural context and the lives and experiences of program staff and stakeholders. CRE views culture broadly as the totality of shared beliefs, behaviors, values, and customs socially transmitted within a group and which shapes group members’ world view and ways of life. Further, with respect to their work, culturally responsive evaluators share similar commitments with scholars to critical qualitative inquiry, including a belief in moving inquiry (evaluation) beyond description to intervention in the pursuit of progressive social change, as well as positioning their work as a means by which to confront injustices in society, particularly the marginalization of people of color. Owing to these beliefs and aims, culturally responsive evaluators tend to lean toward a more qualitative orientation, both epistemologically and methodologically. Thus, when taken up in practice, culturally responsive evaluation can be read as a form of critical qualitative inquiry.

Article

Celia Haig-Brown and Te Kawehau Hoskins

Indigenous teacher education has proven to be a powerful influence in the resurgence of Indigenous cultures and languages globally. In Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand, while there are numerous distinctions between the countries in size, linguistic and cultural diversity, and the histories of Indigenous peoples and colonization, an Indigenous commitment to schooling has shaped long-term and recent aspirations in both contexts. Within Canada, the proliferation of Indigenous teacher education programs is a direct result of a 1972 landmark national policy document Indian Control of Indian Education. This document written by Indigenous leaders in response to the Canadian government was the culmination of a decades-long, relentless commitment to creating the best possible schooling systems for Indigenous students within the provinces and territories. In 2015, despite some significant gains, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada completed its work articulating Calls to Action that reinforce the original recommendations, particularly the focus on Indigenous control of education. In the Aotearoa New Zealand context, the establishment of Māori language schooling pathways and Māori medium teacher education programs has been made possible by activism focused on the recognition of Indigenous-Māori rights to language and culture guaranteed by the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. Forms of constitutional recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi mean that New Zealand endorses a social policy of biculturalism. From the 1970s and 1980s, responses to exclusionary and racist colonial policies and practices have led to the creation of teacher education programs in both Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand transforming universities and schools and establishing spaces of Indigenous authority, activism and expertise. While the pace of change varies radically from place to place and from institution to institution, and the specific contexts of the two countries differ in important ways, the innumerable Indigenous graduates of the programs make ongoing contributions to Indigenizing, decolonizing, and educating Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike. The growth and strengthening of an Indigenous education sector have led to significant policy and curriculum reforms across the education systems and to ongoing engagement in critique, advocacy, research, and practice. Throughout their development, Indigenous leadership and control of the programs remain the immediate and long-range goals.

Article

Efforts to support education for all students have increasingly become priorities for governments around the world. Key international agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, have provided foundational direction to jurisdictions in implementing policies to engage all students including those with special education needs. As initiatives to support equitable and inclusive education for all become more widespread globally, it is important to consider how these efforts affect economically wealthy countries. Using the example of Canada, and specifically the province of Ontario, implications of supporting education for all through the framework of inclusive education are examined. These implications include funding, teaching commitment and training, resources, and privatization. Inclusive education refers to the ability of all students, regardless of gender, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, or ability, to attend their neighborhood community school and be in classes with similar aged peers. Students with special education needs, whether these be learning disabilities, visual or hearing disorders, or mental health disorders, among many other conditions, are key stakeholders in inclusive education. The conclusion raises important questions for future research to examine inclusive education and the parallel implications not only in economically wealthy countries but for all jurisdictions that are trying to initiate and support educational programs for all students.

Article

The development of inclusive educational practices and their current practices differ significantly between the North American nations of Canada and the United States. Although these countries do share similarities in both theoretical underpinnings and educational programming, the current differences in policy oversight nationally and at the provincial and state levels promote a wider range of policy and programmatic differences across Canada than in the United States. Governance structures, the resulting policies, and their similarities and differences between and within these countries serve as foundations that underpin innovative inclusive educational programming in each country. The interplay between legislation and activism has both reflected and provoked the movement away from special education and toward inclusive education to varying degrees in both Canada and the United States.

Article

Lisa Johnston, Leah Shoemaker, Nicole Land, Aurelia Di Santo, and Susan Jagger

The field of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Canada has been informed by a myriad of influences and these factors continue to shift and shape the curriculum, pedagogy, research, and practice in Canadian ECEC. Historically, following many of the theories and practices embraced by the United States, early child-care centers, day nurseries, and kindergartens were established to alleviate pressures on overcrowded schools and allow for mothers to work outside of the home. At the same time, Canadian child care took on a broader role in social welfare and later social justice, working to reduce inequities and inequality. These motivations have not been shared across all ECEC, and this is particularly evident in Indigenous early education. Here, Indigenous children and families have endured the horror of the residential school system and its legacy of colonialism, trauma, and cultural genocide. Along with these underpinning histories, Canadian ECEC has been informed by, is continuing to be shaped by, and is beginning to be guided by a number of models and movements in early learning. These include developmentalism, child-centered pedagogies, Reggio Emilia approaches, children’s rights, holistic education, the reconceptualist movement, and postdevelopmentalism, and many of these approaches are not mutually exclusive. Finally, the policies and practices at federal, provincial, and municipal levels and the unique tensions between these levels of government structure Canadian ECEC policy and practice. Provincial and Indigenous early learning frameworks are created to enhance educator understandings and application of program principles, values, and goals, and these embrace responsive relationships with children and families, reflective practice, the importance of the environment and play in learning, and respect of diversity, equity, and inclusion, to name but a few shared principles. Taken together, the complexity of ECEC in Canada is clear, with historical approaches and attitudes continuing to preserve structures that devalue children and those who work with them, while concurrently efforts continue to honor the rights and voices of all children, advocate for professionalization in the field of ECEC, and reveal and reconcile past and current truths and injustices in Indigenous children’s education and care, in order to support and heal all children, families, and communities.