Multiliteracies were first conceptualized in 1994 by the New London Group (NLG), a group of global scholars who specialized in different aspects of literacy instruction including classroom discourse, multilingual teaching and learning, new technologies, critical discourse and literacy, linguistics, cultural and social educations, semiotics, and visual literacy. Published in 1996, the NLG focused on equalizing the power dynamics within education by moving away from traditional print-based literacies that privilege the cultural majority who hold the most wealth and power in the world. Their work seeks to elevate those who are traditionally marginalized by embracing literacies that leverage multiple languages, discourses, and texts. Multiliteracies have been widely adopted, expanded upon, and contested in academia, but classroom teachers have been much slower in adopting them. Although systems of accountability and standardization contribute to a slow adoption of multiliteracies practices, teachers have found ways to integrate multiliteracies into instruction. In doing so, students are provided with more linguistic capital and a deeper understanding of how meaning is made across multiple contexts.
Multiliteracies in Classrooms
Robyn Seglem and Antero Garcia
Bourdieu and Education
The French social Pierre Bourdieu became known as a key sociologist of education in the 1970s, contributing seminal books and articles to the “new” sociology of education, which focuses on knowledge formation in the classroom and institutional relations. His own social background was modest, but he rose through the elite French schools to become a leading intellectual in the second half of the 20th century. His early studies dealt with Algeria, which he had experienced firsthand in the 1950s at a time of their war of independence. Issues of education and culture grew out of his field studies and formed the basis of further early work in the 1960s. Subsequently, he developed a wider research corpus, which considered the French state and society as a whole: cultural consumption, politics, religion, law, economics, literature, art, fashion, media, and philosophy. Bourdieu developed a highly original “theory of practice” and set of conceptual thinking tools: habitus, field, and cultural capital. His approach sought to rise above conventional oppositions between subjectivism and objectivism. Structure as both structured and structuring was a central principle to this epistemology. Early studies of university students focused on the role that education played in social class reproduction and the place of language in academic discourse. For him, pedagogy was a form of “symbolic violence,” played out in the differential holdings of “cultural capital” that the students held with respect to each other and the dominant ethos of schooling. He undertook further extensive studies of French higher education and elite training schools. He was involved in various education review committees and put forward a number of principles for change in curricula, all while accepting that genuine reform was extremely challenging. He catalogued some of the tensions and conflicts of contemporary education policy. Both his discoveries and conceptual terms still offer researchers powerful tools for analyzing and understanding all national education systems and the particular individual practical contexts within them.
Marketization and Educational Institutions
Pedro Nuno Teixeira
The way education is perceived socially and politically has changed significantly over the last half century. The growing pervasiveness of economic analysis in education has contributed significantly, among other societal and political factors, to a reformulation in the way educational organizations are conceived, particularly due to the economic and social effects of their activity. One of the major dimensions of that change has been the strengthening of a discourse that emphasized the advantages of market and competitive forces over public regulation and of privatization and quasi-private rationales over public ones. Despite significant social and political resistances, the education sector has been experiencing a growing influence of market and competitive forces, and this is particularly visible in the higher education sector. Hence, several policy developments have led to the strengthening of market forces and competition in higher education. This encompasses changes in the contextual conditions through which market forces have been strengthened and the subsequent impact of marketization, competition, and privatization policies at the institutional level. However, this faces resistance, not least due to the peculiarities of educational sectors and institutions, that begs reflection about the potential and limitations of approaching education institutions as economic organizations.
Asian Perspectives and Approaches for Developing Assistance in Promoting Human Capital
I-Hsuan Cheng and Sheng-Ju Chan
The human capital theory emphasizes the importance of education and training to improve worker skills and productivity in the dynamic global knowledge economy and 21st-century capitalism. In Asia, development assistance modalities and contents required for human capital development, such as higher education projects and skill development projects, are implemented by emerging Asian donors alone and through their collaboration with international counterparts. According to the Asian experience, there are four key points. First, the various Chinese, Indian, and other Asian development experiences affirm that different developing countries require different combinations of basic and high skills in the 21st century. Accordingly, the distribution and mobilization of official development assistance (ODA) in human capital development must depend on culturally and contextually specific assistance projects designed for different developing countries. Second, all stakeholders in the skill ecosystem, which includes donors, recipient governments, education institutions, firms, and individuals, must assume responsibilities for not only balancing the skill demand and supply but also sustaining positional competition in the local and global job markets. Third, the system underpinned by innovative financing from the private sector, emerging donors, as well as traditional Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) donors must focus on inclusive and sustainable economic development rather than economic accumulation and gross domestic product (GDP) growth only. Finally, higher education institutions should play a more critical and active role in providing international development assistance to empower skilled and competent individuals as change agents to work for/in, guide, and lead the skill ecosystem, which eventually will not only respond to economic demands in the short term but also promote economic transformation in the long run.
Theories of International Development, Gender, and Education
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.
System Reform in the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector in Australia
Three normative accounts of formal early childhood education and care are evident within international, national, and local policy frames. Human capital theories, human rights discourses, and social pedagogic understandings shape policy frames in specific ways. The flow of global policy frames has influenced the formal early childhood education and care sector in Australia. Early childhood education and care have evolved as specific repositories of hope for nation states seeking to boost their productivity and secure enhanced life outcomes for citizens. There are structural challenges in translating an evidence base and apparent policy consensus into systemic change. It is therefore necessary to highlight the persistence of equity challenges that exist in the early childhood education and care sector in Australia.
Neoliberalism and Education
Neoliberalism is a political project carried out by the capitalist class to consolidate their ability to generate profits by exercising influence in political processes, such as elections, in order to privatize or direct state institutions and regulatory powers in ways favorable to their interests. These efforts coincide the propagation of a neoliberal common sense that is grounded in an understanding of all aspects of society in economic terms of competition in markets and return on investment. However, in practice, neoliberalism does not promote competitive markets as much as it results in the privatization of public institutions and creation of new sites for private investment through state policies. The field of education, traditionally a site of local democratic control, is increasingly subject to neoliberal governance, as elected school boards are consolidated under appointed leadership, district schools are replaced by charter schools, and school resources, such as curriculum, testing, and even the training of teachers, are provided by private companies. Neoliberalism frames the purpose of education in terms of investments made in the development of students’ human capital. What students should learn and the value of education is relative to their individual prospects for future earnings. This narrowed conception of education raises important questions about the purpose of education and the relationship between schools, democratic life, and state governance. Developing a critical relationship with neoliberal common sense is necessary in order to recognize both how actually existing neoliberal policies primarily serve the interests of capitalists and that there are other, democratic, sources of value and purpose that can ground debates and efforts in the field of education.
Educational Innovation in Higher Education
Mugenyi Justice Kintu, Aslan Aydin, and Chang Zhu
Education systems are required to train human capital on skills befitting knowledge-based economies. This calls for innovative systems in education to meet the ever-increasing demand for skilled workforces in these economies. Education systems should enhance quality in teaching and learning processes and prepare future citizens for life and work through innovative policies. In education systems, higher education may be more innovative than primary and secondary education levels as higher education is at the center of education and research focusing on innovation and creativity. In this regard, institutions of higher education encounter innovation trends and challenges in the era of the knowledge-based economy. Innovation trends are currently climbing upward and are mainly driven by factors such as the need for automation, globalization, and competitive waves of change. Economic development with regard to these innovation trends is closely associated with countries’ ability to produce, acquire, and apply technical and socioeconomic development. The main challenges lie in the rate at which countries are advancing vis-à-vis social development trends. The Social development trends do not seem to match up with the speedy onset of global acceleration, the processes in developing and developed countries, and economic imbalances that occur within the developed world itself. There are implementation difficulties regarding innovations as well as selecting the relevant innovation to apply in some contexts. Adoption of innovation is another challenge, especially when it comes to changing mindsets toward innovations like technology in education. This applies to the developing world as well as to infrastructural impediments common in the African and other developing economy contexts, such as Turkey. To overcome these challenges, research-intensive universities could promote research and innovation. Some examples of innovation in education include e-learning, audio-media usage for distance learning, online education, MOOCs, blended learning, and information communication technology utilization. Teachers should be trained as competent users of these innovative technologies to initiate and sustain innovation in education. Once harnessed, educational innovation could catch on rapidly and improve service delivery in educational institutions. Developed and developing countries should work together to foster and mass produce these technologies in higher education institutions.
Education and Income Inequality in Hong Kong
Irrespective of the stages of economic development, most governments around the world are facing income inequality problems and are searching for a fix. There is a general perception that the provision of education opportunities to the younger generation can reduce income inequality. However, this general perception does not receive strong support by scholars. In the literature, empirical evidence collected by numerous researchers is mixed. Hong Kong, a culturally diverse and economically well-developed city economy, has undergone rapid economic development in the last few decades. It underwent structural change from an entrepôt to a labor-intensive manufacturing economy and finally became a service-oriented city economy. The Hong Kong story does not support the view that that making higher education more accessible to youngsters can help narrow income disparity. In fact, the evidence from the Hong Kong population census and by-census samples shows that well-educated workers experienced higher income dispersion than those workers with a lower educational level. Policymakers are advised not to rely on expanding higher education opportunities to alleviate income inequality problems.
Applied Linguistics and Education
Margaret Kettle and Susy Macqueen
Language is fundamental to teaching and learning, yet is prone to invisibility in education systems. Drawing on work from applied linguistics that foregrounds language use in education, a “power” heuristic can be used to highlight linguistic privilege and its implications for students and their individual language repertoires. Language can be understood as a tool for performing particular interpersonal and ideational functions; its structure and uses are determined by context. For most students, experiences of language that is education-related reside in three core domains: the home and community, the school, and the nation state. Language expectations in these domains vary and position the linguistic repertoires of students differently. A key consideration is the student’s first language and its relationship to the expectations and privileged varieties of different institutions, for example, the local school and the national education department. By foregrounding linguistic privilege in education, the alignment, or misalignment, between students’ language resources and the prevailing language norms of educational institutions is made visible and open to change. Inherent in the level of alignment are issues of educational inclusion, access to powerful language forms and genres, and academic achievement. The concept of power affordances can be used to refer to the enabling potential of the relationship between language status, language affiliation and a student’s linguistic repertoire. Power affordances can operate as three broad potentials, capabilities or statuses: socioeconomic power, which resides in the language of global and state institutions ranging from government to schools and manifests in instruments such as national standardized tests; sociocognitive power, which enables the capacity to learn and recognizes the language intensity of knowledge; and identity power, which references social belonging and is strongly indexed to language. Conceptualizing language and its power affordances in education provides a useful framework for understanding the relationship between students’ language resources and the often implicit linguistic demands and practices of education systems. It also highlights the rich potential of applied linguistics in understanding education.