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Article

With the emergence of critical English language teaching (CELT) in the past 25 years, primarily in the English for academic purposes domain, there have been significant implications for English language learning. ELT approaches have drawn on major premises and assumptions in second language acquisition research from the past several decades, particularly in the institutional context of intensive English language programs in North America in which the dominant conventions and traditional approaches in English language teaching have been enacted. The first incarnation of CELT occurred in the early 1990s, which eventually prompted a key debate over critical pedagogy in English language teaching during the 2000s. The second wave of CELT began in the mid-2000s and addressed the continuing challenges facing students in the context of neoliberal spaces of universities worldwide. New approaches have emerged that address the importance of CELT in the current nationalist and racist backlash against increased global mobility of job- and refuge-seeking immigrants to Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Article

Multicultural education was born of racial and ethnic minority groups’ struggles to have their experiences, cultures, and ways of life recognized in dominant institutions. In schools, it means teaching the cultures, histories, values, and perspectives of different cultural groups, especially those of historically marginalized peoples. Since this approach can take perniciously shallow forms, educators have sought to incorporate the ideals of critical pedagogy and antiracism to inform a practice of “critical multicultural education.” Critical pedagogy rejects claims that knowledge is politically neutral and posits education and teaching as political acts. Informed by critical theory, critical pedagogy seeks to awaken students to the social, cultural, political, and economic milieu in which dominant forms of knowledge are constructed and through which power functions. A goal of critical pedagogy is for students to understand the way that injustice manifests and is reproduced and, ideally, to engage in praxis—critical reflection and action—toward societal transformation. Antiracist scholarship has sought to switch discussion of race and racism away from minority groups and, instead, to analyze white racism and whiteness as integral features of dominant institutions. It connects to critical theory in several ways, foremost of which is the position that racism was born of capitalist social relations. Like critical pedagogy, antiracist education seeks to understand, reveal, and counter structural forms of oppression. As such, antiracist education can be more widely presented as anti-Xist education, that is, antisexist, antiableist, antiheterosexist, and so on. In other words, the importance of antiracist education, as informed by critical race theory, lies not only in centering issues of race and racism. Black feminist scholars, for example, also point to the concern of the “intersectionality” of race, class, gender, and other sites of oppression. Lastly, unschooling also links to critical theory to the extent that traditional schooling represents and promotes the opposite of freedom and critical self-reflection. From a Marxian standpoint, unschooling understands the material reality of schools as manipulative, not convivial, and as reproductive of the status quo, not transformational. Compulsory, competitive schooling, according to this view, undermines learning and, instead, focuses on production, consumption, and spectation. Unschooling, instead, puts the power, responsibility, and, importantly, freedom for learning in the hands of the learner. Born of and informed by a number of different social movements (civil rights movements; women’s liberation, gay, and lesbian rights movements; indigenous rights movements; etc.), critical multicultural education, then, stands as multiculturalism plus both collective and individual empowerment for responsible, critical engagement against structural forms of oppression.

Article

The work known as critical geography, a distinct yet varied subfield of spatial analysis, seeks to understand how the social construction of both space and place interact with, resist, and reinforce structures of power and the work of individual and collective identity. A critical geography approach to qualitative educational research privileges inquiry that includes how the lived experiences of schools (i.e., students, teachers, schools, communities) are defined, constrained, and potentially liberated by spatial relationships in both discursive and material ways. That is, a critical geography approach includes how such understandings may be used, for example, to critically examine how spaces are used, by whom, when, and how in the process of learning and not learning; what spaces mean (and mean differently) for different people inhabiting the spaces of education; how spaces are used to construct identities, allegiances, and bodies; how they act pedagogically to position bodies to know and be known; and the kind of pedagogies they help make possible and intelligible for both teachers and students in classrooms.

Article

Robert Helfenbein and Gabriel Huddleston

During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, spatial terms have emerged and proliferated in academic circles, finding application in several disciplines extending beyond formal geography. Critical geography, a theoretical addition to the home discipline of geography as opposed to being a new discipline in itself, has seen application in many other disciplines, mostly represented by what is collectively called social theory (i.e., sociology, cultural studies, political science, and literature). The application of critical spatial theory to educational theory in general, and curriculum theorizing in particular, points to new trajectories for both critical geographers and curriculum theorists. The growth of these two formations have coincided with the changes in the curriculum studies field, especially as it relates to the Reconceptualization of that field during the 1970s. In terms of critical spatial theory especially, the exploration of how we conceptualize place and space differently has allowed curriculum studies scholars to think more expansively about education, schools, pedagogy, and curriculum. More specifically, it has allowed a more fluid understanding of how curriculum is formed and shaped over time by framing the spatial as something beyond a “taken-for-granted” fact of our lives. The combination of spatial theory and curriculum studies has produced a myriad of explorations to see how oppression works in everyday spaces. The hope inherent in this work is that if we can understand how space is (re)produced with inherent inequities, we can produce spaces, especially educative ones, that are more just and equitable.

Article

Allison Daniel Anders

Committed to research as an ethical and political practice, post-critical ethnographers work to center emic perspectives, local knowledges, and critiques in everyday languages in order to illuminate the exercise of power in the re/production of systemic inequities (e.g., economic, cultural, geographic, linguistic, political, racial, and social). Post-critical ethnographers underscore the importance of positionality and reflexivity in the practice of ethnography and pursue multiple, complicated understandings and complex representations, often experimental, in the writing and production of research. Informed by critical, interpretivist, and postmodern theories, post-critical ethnographers critique dominance, oppression, and inequity. In educational research, they choose schools, student, teacher, administrator experiences, and often local contexts to frame their research. Addressing both the particularities of experience and historical geopolitical contexts, post-critical ethnographers offer incisive analyses and ask their audiences to challenge systemic inequities and consider what could be otherwise in inequitable relations but is not yet.

Article

The field of educational administration has a long and embedded history of taking a critical approach to practice, research, and theory. While there are a range of reviews from within and external to the field, there is no comprehensive contemporary historical overview of the meaning and actuality of critical approaches. A novel mapping and codification project aims to fill this gap by providing six approaches to criticality in the field. Three are professional self–focused—biographical, hierarchical, and entrepreneurial—and three are focused on professional and policy issues as primary research projects—functional, realistic, and activist. An overview is provided for each with examples of field projects/outputs, followed by an examination of the trends in the field. The state of the field is identified as a site for intervention from non-education interests (e.g., business), where non-research forms of criticality, often allied with functional research, tend to be dominant.

Article

Queer pedagogy can be considered a kind of critical pedagogy, which questions the neutrality of knowledge and renders teaching a political act. Drawing upon queer studies, it remains strategically poised on a series of important contradictions between constructing and deconstructing, defining and undoing. In the very impossibility of resolving such issues it challenges the basic premise of the institution of schooling—instead of providing clear and definitive answers to questions, it keeps them open. Its productivity lies in unsettling oppressive certainties. Can we both understand that bodies, by their very nature, exceed their discursive construction, and at the same time recognize people’s own identifications and the very real social and historical repressions they have experienced and continue to experience as a result of these? Discourse analysis in the field of education provides the potential for questioning the limits of discourse and the knowledge it creates, while creating spaces for recognition and the production of alternative understandings. Instead of simply replacing older knowledge regimes with newer (and supposedly better) ones—a traditional didactic approach—we might critically analyze how knowledge has been constructed and how people’s lived experiences challenge these constructions, and then begin to imagine a queer pedagogy based on this analysis.

Article

Curriculum studies is a field that addresses the sociopolitical, historical, and cultural norms and values that impact the classrooms and corridors of schools and their interrelated systems of schooling. Questions of curricula, the formal (what is meant to be taught), the null (what is not taught), the enacted (what is learned through interactions), and the hidden (what is learned through cultural norms) are significant to curriculum studies and are entangled with local and less local histories, politics, and cultures. Sociocultural precepts such as race, gender, and sexual orientation are therefore enmeshed with these forms of curriculum. The study of how race, gender, and sexual orientation are related is therefore at once historical and contemporary in its significance. To understand the relationship between these ideas is to follow lines from Title IX, the Meriam Report, the exclusion of certain terms from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, redlining, and other significant national policies and practices that impact schools and the curriculum. Finally, while it may be easy to falsely split questions of race from questions of gender or sexual orientation, an attention to how intersectional identities impact the curriculum becomes especially significant to disrupting colonial, sexist, racist, homophobic, and transphobic norms and values that often render the fe-male body as property of the cis-hetero patriarchy. Within these intersectional dialogues, curriculum studies scholars often find the important tools for dismantling and discussing normalized marginalization in schools and across systems of schooling as they touch and are touched by local and less local communities.

Article

Jeff Share, Tatevik Mamikonyan, and Eduardo Lopez

Democracy in the digital networked age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” requires new literacy skills and critical awareness to read, write, and use media and technology to empower civic participation and social transformation. Unfortunately, not many educators have been prepared to teach students how to think critically with and about the media and technology that engulf us. Across the globe there is a growing movement to develop media and information literacy curriculum (UNESCO) and train teachers in media education (e-Media Education Lab), but these attempts are limited and in danger of co-optation by the faster growing, better financed, and less critical education and information technology corporations. It is essential to develop a critical response to the new information communication technologies that are embedded in all aspects of society. The possibilities and limitations are vast for teaching educators to enter K-12 classrooms and teach their students to use various media, critically question all types of texts, challenge problematic representations, and create alternative messages. Through applying a critical media literacy framework that has evolved from cultural studies and critical pedagogy, students at all grade levels can learn to critically analyze the messages and create their own alternative media. The voices of teachers engaging in this work can provide pragmatic insight into the potential and challenges of putting the theory into practice in K-12 public schools.

Article

Derek Allen, Sharon Bailin, Mark Battersby, and James B. Freeman

There are numerous definitions of critical thinking, but the core concept has been said to be careful, reasoned, goal-directed thinking. There are also many conceptualizations of critical thinking, which are generally more detailed than brief definitions, and there are different views about what the goal(s) of critical thinking instruction should be. Whether critical thinking is a good thing is a matter of debate. Approaches to teaching critical thinking vary, partly according to whether they focus on general principles of critical thinking or on subject-matter content or on a combination of both. A meta-analysis research report published in 2015 concluded that, subject to certain qualifications, a variety of critical thinking skills and dispositions can develop in students through instruction at all educational levels. Critical thinking instruction has been influenced by research in cognitive psychology that has suggested strategies for countering factors (e.g., biases) that the research has found to produce irrational beliefs. Methods of assessing critical thinking ability include teacher-designed tests and standardized tests. A research report published in 2014 on assessing critical thinking in higher education describes challenges involved in designing standardized critical thinking tests and proposes a framework for a “next-generation” assessment. The challenges include achieving a balance between the assessment's real-world relevance and its psychometric quality, and designing an assessment useful for instructional purposes and for comparisons of programs and institutions. The proposed framework is based partly on a review of existing frameworks of critical thinking in higher education. It has two analytical dimensions and two synthetic dimensions, and a dimension on understanding causation and explanation. Surveys show that employers value employees with strong critical thinking ability; this fact has significant implications for students, teachers, and administrators at all levels of education.

Article

Amy Stornaiuolo and T. Philip Nichols

In the opening decades of the 21st century, educators have turned toward cosmopolitanism to theorize teaching and learning in light of increasingly globalized relationships and responsibilities. While subject to extensive debates in disciplines like political science, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology, cosmopolitanism in education has primarily been explored as a moral framework resonant with educators’ efforts to cultivate people’s openness to new ideas, mutual understanding through respectful dialogue, and awareness of relationships to distant and unknown others. Scholars have recently called for more critical cosmopolitan approaches to education, in which the framing of cosmopolitanism as a neutral, essentializing form of global togetherness is subject to critique and includes analysis of systems of power, privilege, and oppression. However, while scholarly efforts to articulate critical cosmopolitanisms (in the plural) are still in nascent form in terms of educational practice, recent work in other disciplines offer promise for forwarding such a critical agenda. In sociology, for example, a focus on cosmopolitics foregrounds the labor of creating a shared world through ongoing, often conflictual negotiations that take into account the historical and contemporary political exigencies that shape that process. A framework of cosmopolitics for educators, particularly as a counterpoint to liberal understandings of cosmopolitanism as a form of ethical universalism, will be explored. Such a critical approach to educational cosmopolitanism not only foregrounds the local, everyday actions needed to build connections with others and create common worlds—but also acknowledges the historical and sociomaterial conditions under which such actions take place. A cosmopolitical approach to educational practice thus recognizes multiplicity and contingency—the mobility that locates people and ideas in new relations can just as easily lead to prejudice and bias as tolerance and solidarity—but does so in an effort to understand how social, political, and economic structures produce inequality, both in the present moment and as legacies from the past.

Article

Vanessa Dodo Seriki and Cory T. Brown

Racial realism, as posited by Derrick Bell, is a movement that provides a means for black Americans to have their voice and outrage about the racism that they endure heard. Critical race theorists in the United States have come to understand and accept the fact that racial equality is an elusive goal and as such studying education—teacher education in particular—requires the use of analytical tools that allow for the identification and calling out of instances of racism and institutions in which racism is entrenched. The tools for doing such work have not traditionally been a part of teacher education research. However, in 1995 Gloria Ladson-Billings and William F. Tate introduced a tool, critical race theory, to the field of education. Since that time, education scholars have used this theoretical tool to produce research that illuminates the pernicious ways in which racism impacts teacher education in the United States.

Article

While specific applications of critical realism to ethnography are few, theoretical developments are promising and await more widespread development. This is especially the case for progressive and critical forms of ethnography that strive to be, in critical realist terms, an “emancipatory science.” However, the history of ethnography reveals that both the field and its emancipatory potential are limited by methodological tendencies toward “naïve realism” and “relativism.” This is the antimony of ethnography. The conceptual and methodological origins of ethnography are grounded in the historical tensions between anti-naturalist Kantian idealism and hyper-naturalist Humean realism. The resolution of these tensions can be found in the conceptual resources of critical realism. Working from, and building upon, the work of British philosopher Roy Bhaskar, critical realism is a movement in the philosophy of science that transcends the limits of Kantian idealism and Humean realism via an emancipatory anti-positivist naturalism. Critical realism emerged as part of the post-positivist movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. From its Marxian origins, critical realism insists that all science, including the social sciences, must be emancipatory. At its essence, this requires taking ontology seriously. The call of critical realism to ethnographers, like all social scientists, is that while they must hold to epistemological caution this does not warrant ontological shyness. Furthermore, critical realism’s return to ontology implies that ethnographers must be ethically serious. Ethnography, if it is to hold to its progressive inclinations, must be about something. Critical realism for ethnography pushes the field to see itself as more than a sociological practice. Rather, it is to be understood as a social practice for something: the universalizing of human freedom.

Article

Esther Sayers

Artists who teach or teachers who make art? To explore the identity of the artist-teacher in contemporary educational contexts, the ethical differences between the two fields of art and learning need to be considered. Equity is sought between the needs of the learner and the demands of an artist’s practice; a tension exists here because the nurture of the learner and the challenge of art can be in conflict. The dual role of artist and of teacher have to be continually navigated in order to maintain the composite and ever-changing identity of the artist-teacher. The answer to the question of how to teach art comes through investigating attitudes to knowledge in terms of the hermeneutical discourses of “reproduction” and “production” as a means to understand developments in pedagogy for art education since the Renaissance. An understanding of the specific epistemological discourses that must be navigated by artist-teachers when they develop strategies for learning explicate the role of art practices in considering the question: What to teach? The answer lies in debates around technical skills and the capacity for critical thought.

Article

Social studies, theoretically, examines the social dynamics of different groups of people within a particular society. The subject, as defined in the US education system, incorporates different disciplines, such as history, sociology, geography, and political science. The objective of social studies is the development of students as active participants in civic society. Since 2001, however, decreased learning time for social studies in elementary school grade levels and narrow interpretations of historical events in secondary school classes due to standardization efforts have threatened the viability of social studies in US schools. A critical social studies interpretation can redirect the current path of the subject. The concept of critical social studies scrutinizes three facets of the subject: curriculum, citizenship, and teaching. Critical teachers, curriculum writers, and students utilize self-reflection, critical theories, and active engagement in critiquing dominant concepts of citizenship. The open exchange of ideas with different individuals challenge standard explanations of citizenship in the United States. Critical educators use community development, student-centered dialogue, and transdisciplinary methods in expanding the learning of social studies. Critical social studies seeks to bring social studies back to its intellectual origins while pushing it into new peripheries.

Article

Peter McLaren and Petar Jandrić

Revolutionary critical rage pedagogy was first introduced in Peter McLaren’s 2015 book Pedagogy of insurrection: From resurrection to revolution. It is aimed at development of heightened recognition of the deception perpetrated by those who write history “from above,” that is from the standpoint of the victors who have camouflaged or naturalized genocidal acts of war, patriarchy, settler colonialism, and other forms of oppression as necessary conditions for the maintenance of democracy. Revolutionary critical rage pedagogy is carried out not only in educational institutions but throughout the public sphere. Its broader social aim is both a relational and structural transformation of society that cultivates pluriversal and decolonizing modes of democratization built upon a socialist alternative to capitalist accumulation and value production.

Article

Critical posthumanism in education proposes a response to the looming ecological disaster by developing an ethical subjectivity of relatedness. It points to the devastating and unsustainable effects of human-centered domination of “lesser” humans, the nonhuman living, and the environment resulting in the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is a posthumanist boundary condition that exploits powers from multiple heterogenous entities and that approaches the limit of sustainable living. Critical posthumanism is a timely and positive intervention that criticizes the forms of domination originating from humanism and from other posthumanisms. These dominating powers result in the dehumanizing and environmentally devastating effects of techno- and bio-capitalism. Posthumanist critique is an affirmative ethical process that asserts the vibrancy of matter and life. It is based on an ethics of assembling, the principle of becoming sustainable of the more-than-human world. While critical posthumanism acknowledges that the analysis of the effects of power is important, it realizes that a difference can only be made when the entanglement of humans with all the living and nonliving others is fully recognized. Critical posthumanist education consists of experiments that explore how subjectivities could be opened to the affects of multiple others in the joyful processes of mutual becoming. The enhancement of affective relations “queery” humanity as such, identities, divisions such as “gender” and “race”, binaries such as human-animal, human-nature and human-technology. To promote mutual becoming, education produces subjectivities that are vigilant to the new ways the Capitalocene (“society of control”) both appropriates and suppresses the vitality of assemblages and the creativity of becomings.

Article

Carolyn M. Shields

Transformative leadership theory (TLT) is distinct from other leadership theories because of its inherently normative and critical approach grounded in the values of equity, inclusion, excellence, and social justice. It critiques inequitable practices, oppression, and marginalization wherever they are found and offers the promise not only of greater individual achievement but of a better life lived in common with others. Two basic propositions (or hypotheses) and eight tenets ensure the comprehensiveness of TLT. The first hypothesis is that when students feel welcome, respected, and included, they are better able to focus on learning and, hence, distal academic outcomes improve. The second hypothesis is that when there is a balance between public and private good emphases, and students are taught about civic participation, democratic society is strengthened. To fulfil these hypotheses, TLT is neither prescriptive nor instrumental; it does not offer a checklist of actions, but instead offers eight guiding tenets to ensure responsiveness to the needs of specific organizational and cultural contexts. The origins of TLT lie in a rejection of primarily technical approaches to leadership that do not adequately address the diversity of 21st-century schools and that have not been able to reduce the disparities between dominant and minoritized groups of students. Transformative leadership theory, like transformational leadership, draws on Burns’s concept of transforming leadership, although the two have sometimes been confused and confounded. Transformational leadership has more positivist overtones and focuses more on organizational effectiveness and efficiency; TLT has been operationalized as a values-based critical theory, focused both on beliefs and actions that challenge inequity and that promote more equity and inclusive participation. TLT draws on other critical theories, including critical race theory, queer theory, leadership for social justice, and culturally responsive leadership, as well as transformative learning theory, in order to promote a more equitable approach to education. Thus, it takes into account the material, lived realities of those who participate in the institution as well as organizational contingencies. To do so, the following eight specific interconnected and interrelated principles have been identified from the literature: • the mandate for deep and equitable change; • the need to deconstruct and reconstruct knowledge frameworks that perpetuate inequity and injustice; • the need to address the inequitable distribution of power; • an emphasis on both private and public (individual and collective) good; • a focus on emancipation, democracy, equity, and justice; • an emphasis on interdependence, interconnectedness, and global awareness; • the necessity of balancing critique with promise; • the call to exhibit moral courage. Questioning, dialogue, free-writing, reflection, deliberative and distributive processes, and relationship-building are central to the successful implementation of TLT. TLT in education is a proven way to address the persistent opportunity and achievement gaps between dominant and minoritized students and of enhancing democratic participation in civil society. In other areas, such as business, non-profits, social services, or sociocultural support agencies, TLT offers a comprehensive way for leaders to reflect on how to provide equitable, inclusive, and excellent environments for both clients and employees.

Article

Sarah Schlessinger and Celia Oyler

Taking an inquiry approach for professional learning in support of inclusive education is both pragmatic and powerful, although it has certainly not been the norm throughout much of teacher education in North America. Much research in inclusive education has focused on teacher beliefs and practices, school structures, and service delivery models, and such foci often position teachers as technicians, implementing outside experts’ ideas about “best practices,” thus marginalizing educators as mere consumers of research and methods, rather than developers, designers, and architects of inclusive practices. To foster full participation and membership of all learners in their classrooms, teachers often engage in trial and error, puzzle solving, and creativity, to build productive and participatory communities of learning. Although consciousness, criticality, and questioning are the foundation of an inclusive stance, awareness alone does not necessarily generate practices of critical inclusivity. The work of moving recursively from framings (ideological and affective) to specific, embodied practices requires continuous action and reflection, which is well supported by practitioner inquiry. The practice of inquiry requires that teachers engage in persistent, reflective work; take risks; and use failures as points of departure for new learning and teaching approaches. The content of the inquiry, when focused on capacity and inclusivity, has the potential to work against the dominant discourses that marginalize and exclude particular students and populations, whereas the process of inquiry can position teachers as creative, intellectual problem-solvers, thus working against the dominant discourse of teachers as technicians. Inquiry for inclusivity is most often taken up as a collaborative practice, supporting educators to make their problem-solving public, gaining both friendly critique and affirmation. The collaborative inquiry group can also serve as a space for ideological and affective clarification, as striving to design teaching and learning for inclusion involves challenging many of the norms of schooling, including individualism; meritocracy; competition; and sorting, leveling, and ranking students.

Article

Barbara S. Stengel

Sex/gender and affect/emotion mutually implicate one another in any theory, research, or practice with respect to education. It is important to examine these two elements together because the emergent focus on affect since the early 1970s is not an accident of thought but tracks the interest in sex/gender as an object of study and tracks as well the increased and increasing visibility of scholars who are not male, cisgendered, and heterosexual. Two overlapping but distinguishable approaches to the study of affect and emotion—affect theory and the feminist politics of emotion—have contributed to changing conceptions of sexuality and gender with respect to educational purposes and pedagogies. Affect theory begins and ends in lived experience; a feminist politics of emotion begins and ends in the press for active response that accompanies that lived experience. Nonetheless, there is a common concern with how power circulates through feeling and how ways of being and knowing come to be through affective relations and discourses. Moreover, there is a shared commitment to understanding affects not as constraints on rationality and hurdles to ethical action, but as the potential to think, act, and live differently.