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Article

The professionalization of education involves a modern, capitalist move toward securing a public market for schools and developing social status for educators. As a process that has produced knowledge, rationalized relationships, and controlled markets, professionalization of education has also defined an ethical discourse. Articulated in language, inscribed in state law, and embodied in conduct, professional ethics have been codified formally in “codes of ethics” and informally in professional identity and ways of thinking. The popular discourse of professional ethics in education narrows and constrains ethical possibility in practice. Because of similar forms of codes of ethics across professions, interdisciplinary scholarship from education, social work, psychiatry, and medicine informs a critical examination of professional ethics. The codes, discourse, and standards of professional ethics are historically grounded in the framework of modern rationalism. As the field of education has developed to include a more diverse knowledge-base and new forms of empirical research, the rational order of prescriptive ethics has begun to slip. While regulatory codes of ethics continue to undergird public trust and provide legal insurance against malfeasance, educational scholars and practitioners engage a wider constellation of ethical perspectives and possibilities. Feminist care ethics, post-modern ethics, and phenomenological descriptive ethics present a few possibilities within emergent fields. As the ongoing effects of professionalization are critiqued and the possibilities of professional ethics are re-imagined, schools of education should look beyond the disciplinary enclosures of education to respond to an increasingly diffuse understanding of professional ethics.

Article

As a highly developed religion, Buddhism has very rich ideas related to ethics and morality. Buddhism itself is a way of education. It guides the method and action of cultivating one’s moral character. These practices can be applied in thinking about education, especially specific to education’s ethical and moral implications. In the early 21st century, Buddhist theory has multiple applications in the field such as applied psychology, counseling, and meditation. Though it is an ancient wisdom, its viewpoint can be used to solve contemporary social problems and human crises caused by the process of modernization. Mahāyāna Buddhism believes that this world is constituted by emptiness, which is the perspective on essence-absent ontology. Everything is in its becoming, which is dependent on everything else, following the law of cause and effect. When an important aspect of one’s daily behavior is to cultivate goodwill, the desirable consequences will be returned to them later. That is, one good turn deserves another. On the contrary, bad will receives ill effects back. This is the basis of the Buddhist moral concept. In this way, human beings are active agents who can decide their own conduct and the result of their life. Buddhism encourages an individual to perform practices of precepts, meditation, and wisdom all the time to rid oneself of craving, hatred, and delusion. The latter are origins of human suffering. Humans cannot reach the ultimate spiritual realm of Nirvāṇa until these three poisons are given up. As an approach to self-education, Buddhist ethical thoughts allow learners to search for their self-nature. Buddhist moral claims of compassion and equality can contribute to the thinking of modern educational issues, such as peace education, ecological education, and equality in education.

Article

Mary Jo Hinsdale

One could easily argue that the pedagogy of relation is not new: a genealogy of the approach would send us back to the ancient Greek philosophers. However, in recent years relational pedagogy has been taken up in novel and ever-deepening ways. It is a response to ongoing efforts at school reform that center on teacher and administrator accountability, based on a constraining view of education as the effective teaching of content. In this view, methods, curricula, and high-stakes testing overshadow the human relationship between teacher and student that relational pedagogy theorists place at the center of educational exchanges. When relationships are secondary to content, the result can be disinterested or alienated students and teachers who feel powerless to step outside the mandated curriculum of their school district. Offering an alternative vision of pedagogy in a troubling era of teacher accountability, contemporary relational theorists take inspiration from a range of philosophical writings. This article focuses on those whose work is informed by the concept of caring, as developed by Nel Noddings, with the critical perspective of Paulo Freire, or the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas. Although these approaches to ethical educational relations do not necessarily mesh together easily, the tensions among them can bear fruit that informs our pedagogy.

Article

Torill Strand

The French philosopher Alain Badiou (1937–) is one of the most significant philosophers of our time, well known for his meticulous work on rethinking, renewing, and thereby strengthening philosophy as an academic discipline. In short, his philosophy seeks to reveal and make sense of the potential of radical innovations in, or transformations of, any given situation. Although he has not written extensively on education, the pedagogical theme is vital, constitutive, and ongoing throughout his work. Badiou is an outspoken critic of the analytic and postmodern schools of thought, as he strongly promotes the virtue of curiosity, and prospects of “an education by truths.” “Truths” are not to be confused with matters of knowledge or opinion. Truths are existential, ongoing, and open-ended ontological operations that do not belong to any epistemic category. An education by such truths operates through a subtraction from the state of the situation and proposes a different direction regarding the true life. According to Badiou, the task of philosophy is to think these truths as processes that emerge from and pursue gradually transformations of particular situations. Overall, the structure of Badiou’s philosophical system demonstrates an extraordinary ontological style as it concurrently stands in relation to, and breaks off from, the history of contemporary French philosophy, German Idealism, and Greek antiquity. His system, which is of vast complexity, is based on mathematical set theory, consisting of a series of determinate negations of the history of philosophy, and also created by the histories of what Badiou terms philosophy’s conditions: science, art, politics, and love.

Article

The study of undocumented students in the United States is critical and growing. As scholars increasingly employ qualitative methodologies and methods in studying undocumented students, it is important to consider the specific challenges, nuances, and benefits of doing so. Undocumented students have a right to a public elementary and secondary education regardless of immigration status, per the 1982 court case Plyler v. Doe. While the stress that undocumented students face during their K-12 years are real and consequential, this stress becomes particularly acute in their postsecondary lives when education is neither guaranteed nor readily accessible. Qualitative research gives insight into the complex obstacles undocumented students face and advocates for the institutional and social change necessary to best support them. Existing qualitative research on undocumented students employs various methodologies and methods including but not limited to narrative inquiry, testimonio, phenomenology, case studies, ethnography, discourse analysis, and grounded theory. Among the salient issues that scholars must take into account when engaging in such research are the ethical, logistical, and relational problems that arise when working with undocumented people; the politicization of researching undocumented students; and the power and privilege that researchers possess in the researcher–participant relationship. Within every stage of the research process, researchers need to take special care when working with undocumented students to ensure their anonymity, respect their lived experiences, and advocate for their human rights. Undocumented research participants are in need of extra protection due to their undocumented status, and this need should not be conflated with weakness. Often, undocumented participants are framed as illegal, powerless, vulnerable, fearful, and in the shadows. While it is true that undocumented people face intense, life-altering, and consequential struggles relative to their undocumented status, it is also true that their intelligence, resilience, and persistence are equally intense. Researchers have an obligation to bring undocumented students’ authentic experiences to the fore in ways that acknowledge their undocumented status and the related struggles while affirming their agency and resistance. How they employ methodological practices is central to this goal.

Article

This study addresses a common concept, ethical school culture, in 30 countries. It presents and outlines its dimensions, based on an analysis of their codes of ethics for teachers. The findings generated a multi-dimensional model of ethical school culture that included six dimensions: caring for the pupils, teachers' profession, teachers' collegial relationships, parental involvement, community involvement, and respecting rules and regulations. The study indicated that “ethical school culture” generates from the interaction between the formal ethical aspects, such as educational policy that encourages high standards, and informal ethical aspects, such as ethical norms that perceive teachers’ role modeling as important for maintenance of the profession’s status. In addition, the findings elicited that schools with an ethical culture are not closed educational systems but rather open educational systems that ensure that knowledge will flow from the school to the community and vice versa. This flow of knowledge is in accordance with the ethical goals that advance equity and opportunity for all pupils. Moreover, the similarity that exists between the dimensions in this study and the dimensions in the corporate ethical virtues (CEV) model expand conceptual validity to the generated multidimensional model. In general, this study reveals that schools have an ethical culture characterized by a teachers’ active approach toward promoting their pupils’ ongoing learning and well-being, initiating collaborative learning with colleagues, and promoting parental involvement. This study generated the common meaning of ethical culture in schools, based on teachers’ interactions with colleagues, pupils, parents, community, and regulations. Understanding the meaning of an ethical culture in schools, can help promote ethical teachers, who will know what is expected from an ethical teacher and help promote an ethical culture in their schools. In addition, the findings of this study support the universal nature of the concept ethical school culture and provide deeper insight into the concept of ethical culture in educational systems. This study hopes to encourage the promotion of teachers’ continuing professional development, which focuses on the proposed six dimensions that can lead to a consistently applied ethical school culture.

Article

Lauren Bialystok

Authenticity is a concept with an impressive history in Western philosophy and a significant hold on the modern imagination. Inseparable from conceptions of truth and individual fulfillment, authenticity remains a powerful ideal, even as it eludes precise definition. Recently it has also become an organizing principle for many educational initiatives. Education, like authenticity, is opposed to dissimulation, ignorance, manipulation, and related states of misalignment between truth and experience. There is widespread enthusiasm for the promotion of authenticity across different types of education and in the personal identity of educators and students. Most of the scholarly literature pertaining to authenticity in education falls outside the scope of philosophical inquiry. But in all cases, the pursuit of authenticity in education rests on various philosophical assumptions about the nature of truth, reality, ethics, and, ultimately, the aims of education. With the influence of Dewey and 20th-century progressive movements in education, authenticity entered the vernacular of educational theory and practice. Attention to the relationship between learning environments and the “real” world has generated pervasive commitments to authentic learning, authentic pedagogies, authentic curriculum, and authentic assessment practices. Here, “authenticity” is used to track the verisimilitude of an educational practice with respect to some external reality. It constitutes an ontological claim about levels of “reality,” as well as an epistemological attitude toward learning as the construction of knowledge. In this respect, authenticity intersects debates about constructivism and relativism in education. Likewise, teachers are exhorted to be authentic qua teachers, elevating their true selves above institutional anonymity as a key part of effective teaching. This phenomenon trades on the values of truthfulness and autonomy that are prized in Western modernity but also problematized in the personal identity and ethics literature. The authenticity of students has also been championed as an educational aim, even as the methods for eliciting authenticity in others have been criticized as self-defeating or culturally limiting. Personal authenticity stands in a contested relationship to autonomy, which has been promoted as the key aim of liberal education. The project of creating authentic people through education remains an intense site of research and debate, with important implications for educational ethics and liberal values.

Article

Teachers often characterize their interest in and commitment to the profession as moral: a desire to support students, serve their communities, or uphold civic ideals embedded in the promise of public education. These initial and sustaining moral impulses are well documented in research on teaching and teacher education. However, moral commitments can also be a source of teachers’ dissatisfaction and resistance, especially in the age of the market-based Global Education Reform Movement. This article explores the phenomenon of conscientious objection in teaching as an enactment of professional ethics. Conscientious objection describes teachers’ actions when they take a stand against job expectations that contradict or compromise their professional ethics. Teachers who refuse to enact policies and practices may be represented by popular media, school leaders, policymakers, and educational researchers as merely recalcitrant or insubordinate. This perspective misses the moral dimensions of resistance. Teachers may refuse to engage in practices or follow mandates from the standpoint of professional conscience. This article also highlights varieties of conscientious objection that are drawn from global examples of teacher resistance. Finally, the article explores the role of teachers unions as potential catalysts for collective forms of conscientious objection.

Article

Jorge Moreira, Fátima Alves, and Ana Mendonça

Contemporary sciences and societies are facing several problems when analyzing the relationship between the natural and social dimensions of the world as reflected in the field of education. A serious effort must be urgently made to identify and tackle environmental problems in order to understand the world in which we live, in ways that are beneficial to present and future life on Earth. In this context, it is fundamental to create a new social order in a way that thinking “out of the box” can emerge with other orders closer to the diversity of life that coexist on the planet. Consequently, the awareness of the complexity and multidimensionality of our world requires the building of new forms of reflexivity and the development of critical thinking, reversing the still predominant characteristics of modern societies such as compartmentalization of knowledge, unhealthy competition, profit-seeking motivations, the exploitation of nature, and excessive individualist and anthropocentric approaches. In this regard, educational institutions play a relevant role in shaping future human actions to be more ethically harmonic (both environmentally and socially) as they are sites of knowledge production and sharing. Hence, it is crucial to rethink the entire educational paradigm and learning system (objectives, curricula, pedagogical strategies, instruments, competencies, school management framework, and even school buildings), because schools often function as “islands,” isolating students from nature, the community, and the “real world,” not preparing them to be well-informed and conscious citizens nor for the challenges that lie ahead. Some theoretical and practical alternatives are needed since schools actually embody the paradoxes and dilemmas of the current societal malaise but have not yet been able to deal with them or to provide adequate effective responses.

Article

Feminist theory rose in prominence in educational research during the 1980s and experienced a resurgence in popularity during the late 1990s−2010s. Standpoint epistemologies, intersectionality, and feminist poststructuralism are the most prevalent theories, but feminist researchers often work across feminist theoretical thought. Feminist qualitative research in education encompasses a myriad of methods and methodologies, but projects share a commitment to feminist ethics and theories. Among the commitments are the understanding that knowledge is situated in the subjectivities and lived experiences of both researcher and participants and research is deeply reflexive. Feminist theory informs both research questions and the methodology of a project in addition to serving as a foundation for analysis. The goals of feminist educational research include dismantling systems of oppression, highlighting gender-based disparities, and seeking new ways of constructing knowledge.

Article

Care theory emphasizes relation, attending to the expressed needs of the other in human encounters. It does not ignore virtue and justice, but its central concept is relation. In education, this means that the expressed needs of students must be considered—not always satisfied, but always included in the teacher’s deliberations. Choice, continuity, and connection are central concepts in the application of care theory to education. In consonance with its emphasis on attention to their expressed needs, care theory recommends listening to students and engaging in discussion to learn about their interests and help them to make intelligent choices. It also suggests that we give more attention to continuity—that is, to the possibility of keeping students and teachers together for more than one year. Similarly, continuity and connection may be increased by encouraging interdisciplinary studies. Finally, care theory emphasizes the need for critical thinking and civility—to educate, not fight, those who may be morally mistaken.

Article

In the context of offenders who have learning difficulties, autism, and/or social, emotional, and mental health problems, their families, and professionals who work with them, caring and ethical research processes can be explored via fieldnotes. Conducting life story interviews and recording fieldnotes within qualitative criminological, education, and sociological research have long since been used to document and analyze communities and institutions and the private and public spheres. They richly tell us about specific research contexts, or everyday lives and relationships, that interview transcripts alone perhaps overlook. It is in the process of recording and reflecting upon research relationships that we can see and understand care-full research. But caring and ethical research works in an interdependent and relational way. Therefore, the participant and the researcher are at times vulnerable, and recognition of this is critical in considering meaningful and healthy research practices. However, the acknowledgment of the fact that particular types of research can be messy, chaotic, and emotional is necessary in understanding caring research.

Article

Petra Munro Hendry

Within contemporary, conventional, interpretive, qualitative paradigms, narrative and curriculum theorizing have traditionally been understood as primary constructs through which educational researchers seek to explain, represent, and conduct inquiry about education. This article traces shifting understandings of Western constructs of narrative and curriculum theorizing from a modernist perspective, in which they were conceived primarily as methods central to the representation of knowledge, to postmodernist perspectives in which they are conceptualized not as epistemological constructs, but as ethical/ontological systems of becoming through/in relationships. Historically, the emergence of “curriculum” and “narrative” (as phenomena) within a modernist, technocratic paradigm, rooted in an epistemological worldview, were constructed as “technologies” whose purpose was to represent knowledge. Current critiques of narrative and curriculum theorizing from the perspective of postmodern, poststructural, feminist, and new materialist perspectives illuminate understandings of these constructs as ethical-ontological-epistemological phenomena. From this perspective, narrative and curriculum theorizing have shifted from being understood as grounded in epistemology in order to provide “better” understanding/knowledge of experience, and alternatively are understood as ethical obligations to “be” in a web of relationships/intra-actions.

Article

Jessica Zacher Pandya and Maren Aukerman

Ethics, broadly conceived, concerns the moral principles that guide what humans do, and the branch of knowledge related to moral principles. Ethics goes beyond simply what is, and endeavors to lay the groundwork for what should be; every pedagogical decision, including whether, what, and how to teach literacy, rests implicitly or explicitly on moral principles. The moral principles of educators and those charged with developing and supporting literacy education matter profoundly for educational decision-making. Relatedly, the issue of justice (social, redistributive, recognitive, representative) is an inescapable one in education, where children’s lives, futures, and flourishing are routinely determined by choices made by those with power. Some of the central ethical principles that may be taken from discussions of ethics and social justice into the specific realm of education include: ahimsa and satyagraha; human relatedness; a moral relationship to place and to non-humans; varied conceptualizations of love; respect for individual freedoms, including the freedom of human flourishing; equality of opportunity; and mutual respect for the multiplicity of differences that exist among people. There are three areas of inquiry that may help educators and researchers examine the moral principles at stake in instructional decision-making about literacy. First is the issue of how, or to what extent, literacy development should be conceptualized as an ethical goal. If it is conceived as an ethical goal, we should ask whose notions of development count, who has access to literacy, and who is included and excluded are all critical questions. Literacy goals should then also be seen as socio-culturally, contextually, and individually contingent. Second is the issue of how literacy teaching may be a pathway to support students in be(com)ing ethical individuals, and/or in transforming society itself to become more ethical. If literacy is understood in this way, ethical individuals should be willing and able to think deeply and carefully about ethics, use print and other media critically and with discernment, and take action in the service of making the world more just. Finally, the act of relating ethically to others (as teachers and students, as readers and writers) in the literacy classroom must be theorized. We must consider treating texts and authors in ethical ways, and consider ethical dialogue as a literacy pedagogy, and honor divergence in interpretation and composing. The intent is not to provide definitive answers, but to indicate some of the ways in which such questions and possible answers may complicate and expand views of literacy education.

Article

Pamela Burnard

The term “interculturality” acknowledges the complexity of locations, identities, and modes of expression in a global world and the desire to raise awareness, foster intercultural dialogue, and facilitate understanding across and between cultures. Intercultural arts is a critical component of interculturality. One of many global educational imperatives is to further understanding and engage critically in what constitutes intercultural arts. Intercultural arts practitioners and researchers play a significant role in this undertaking. A close examination of intercultural arts work and encounters unravels complex relationships among arts disciplines and ways to conceptualize and understand intercultural arts travels. Intercultural arts research sheds new insights into shared cultural and intercultural futures that need to be reimagined and co-created with a sense of ethical obligations, exploration, openness, and reflexivity. This leads to embracing a multiperspective worldview that addresses and celebrates the embodied nature of intercultural arts practices across global contexts: a worldview that is continually constructed, dynamic, and fluid, existing both within and between locations, and that connotes a particular type of ethical educational space. The study of interculturality in today’s society in general, and in actual intercultural arts practice in particular, is indispensable. For educators who want to engage in researching their professional practice in the “field” of intercultural arts, “field” is a useful agricultural metaphor for the various processes and tools used in researching intercultural arts practice. Social researchers talk, for example, about “entering the field” and “gathering” data as if venturing into the world to harvest material for processing (analysis) before its eventual distribution and consumption by a society hungrily seeking new information to build up its body of knowledge and increase its capacity for growth and improvement. However, for education practitioners researching their own professional practice, and their journey into and focus on “intercultural arts,” it will feel much more fluid and uncertain than being on dry land, and it will require them to locate and address the overlap of practice and ethical agendas in educational research.

Article

Marginalized populations are by definition composed of people who have fewer possibilities and options in their lives than those studying them. This fact has to be reflected before, during, and after the research itself. There are many facets of this basic assumption. One of them is, how are marginalized perceived by the researcher? Are they helpless victims, or people who are able to tell their own stories? Another relevant detail is the personality of the researcher. When the researcher comes from outside the marginalized group, the key question is, which methodology can be best applied to give a voice to those who are marginalized? On the other hand, when the researcher is a member of the group being studied, the key question is how to achieve the distance necessary for analysis. There could be many more such relevant facets, but the quality of the final research product is partially determined by any number of decisions that are made during the planning of the research and the conducting of the research. All of these decisions have methodological consequences. There are a wide range of qualitative research approaches, such as participatory research, autoethnographic research, narrative and biographical research, or traditional qualitative research based on interviews with representatives of marginalized groups. In the early 21st century, there has been a shift away from a top-down, outsider perspective that sees the marginalized as helpless victims and toward more participatory research designs that promote and give a space to the marginalized voice. The common denominator of all these decisions is whose voice is being heard—does it belong to the marginalized group or to the outside world? Is it possible to overcome the boundaries between these two worlds? And what role does methodology play in this story?

Article

One could easily argue that Pacific research methodologies (PRM) and Pacific relational ethics (PRE) are not new: a genealogy of approach would take one back to the ancient Pacific philosophers and practitioners of ancient indigenous knowledges—indeed back to Tagaloa-a-lagi and the 10 heavens. However, in the last two decades, there has been a renaissance of PRM and PRE taken up by Pacific researchers based in New Zealand and the wider Pacific to counter the Western hegemonic tradition of how research is carried out and why—especially research involving Pacific people, families, and communities. In the diaspora, as ethnic minorities and in their island homes, as Third World nations, Pacific peoples and communities are struggling to survive in contexts of diasporic social marginalization and a neocolonial globalizing West. So there is a need to take stock of what contemporary expressions of PRM and PRE are, how they have developed, and why they are needed. This renaissance seeks to decolonize and reindigenise research agendas and research outputs by doing research based on Pacific indigenous theories, PRM, and PRE. It demands that research carried out with Pacific peoples and communities is ethical and methodologically sound with transformational outputs. In reality, the crisis in Pacific research is the continuing adherence to traditional Western theories and research methods that undermine and overshadow the va—the sacred, spiritual, and social spaces of human relationships between researcher and researched that Pacific peoples place at the center of all human/environment/cosmos/ancestors and animate/inanimate interactions. When human relationships are secondary to research theories and methods, the research result is ineffective and meaningless and misinforms policy formation and education delivery, thereby maintaining the inequitable positioning of Pacific peoples across all demographic indices, especially in the field of Pacific education. The Samoan indigenous reference of teu le va, which means to value, nurture, and care for (teu) the secular/sacred and social/spiritual spaces (va) of all relationships, and Teu le Va , the Ministry of Education research guideline, both evoke politicians, educational research institutions, funders, and researchers to value, nurture, and, if necessary, tidy up the va. In a troubling era of colonizing research methodologies and researcher nonaccountability, Pacific educational researchers can take inspiration from a range of philosophical theorizing based on the development of a suite of PRMs.

Article

Richard Lynch, Poonpilas Asavisanu, Kanog-on Rungrojngarmcharoen, and Yan Ye

Educational management is one of a trilogy of overlapping concepts, along with educational administration and educational leadership. These three concepts are related but nonetheless possess definitional differences depending on where the terms are applied. The complexity of educational management as a concept is evidenced by its inclusion of related but subsidiary though important notions such as ethics, culture, and diversity within differing educational systems. The overall purpose of educational management is to effectively and efficiently create and maintain environments within educational institutions that promote, support, and sustain effective teaching and learning, but how those key objectives are set and the means by which they are attained may differ significantly depending upon education system or level and across educational cultures. In striving to accomplish these goals, educational managers, through thoughtful practical application of management principles, enlist and organize a society’s available resources to attain the educational goals that have been set by that society’s political leaders. As such, the various educational goals set by differing societies to which educational managers at all levels of the educational system must respond are by definition changeable along with changing socioeconomic conditions within a society and the disruption occasioned by the rapid development of digital technologies used as management tools. Educational management, while guiding planned change, must be responsive to unplanned, disruptive change created by rapid changes in both social structures and cultures as well as advances in digital technologies. This is where the element of educational leadership that directs and guides the entire process of educational management and administration takes on particular importance. Leadership includes both manager and teacher professional ethics and is expressed within a variety of theories of ethical leadership in education that respond to cultural imperatives in differing societies. Educational management must be responsive to both global and local changes due to technological developments that directly impact teaching and learning through changes in curriculum in terms of pedagogical and assessment practices. It is in how educational management as a discipline evolves to effectively meet the needs of educational systems contingent upon the challenges derived from technological, social, cultural, and economic changes sweeping the globe in the first decades of the 21st century that will determine the effectiveness and efficacy of management practices going forward. Effectively and innovatively managing change is the primary challenge facing educational management locally, regionally, and globally in the decades ahead.

Article

Eileen S. Johnson

Action research has become a common practice among educational administrators. The term “action research” was first coined by Kurt Lewin in the 1930s, although teachers and school administrators have long engaged in the process described by and formally named by Lewin. Alternatively known as practitioner research, self-study, action science, site-based inquiry, emancipatory praxis, etc., action research is essentially a collaborative, democratic, and participatory approach to systematic inquiry into a problem of practice within a local context. Action research has become prevalent in many fields and disciplines, including education, health sciences, nursing, social work, and anthropology. This prevalence can be understood in the way action research lends itself to action-based inquiry, participation, collaboration, and the development of solutions to problems of everyday practice in local contexts. In particular, action research has become commonplace in educational administration preparation programs due to its alignment and natural fit with the nature of education and the decision making and action planning necessary within local school contexts. Although there is not one prescribed way to engage in action research, and there are multiple approaches to action research, it generally follows a systematic and cyclical pattern of reflection, planning, action, observation, and data collection, evaluation that then repeats in an iterative and ongoing manner. The goal of action research is not to add to a general body of knowledge but, rather, to inform local practice, engage in professional learning, build a community practice, solve a problem or understand a process or phenomenon within a particular context, or empower participants to generate self-knowledge.

Article

Ethnography and sensitive issues come together by way of the question, “What can someone know?,” which is a situational dilemma. An ethnography of sensitive issues creates a particular perspective of knowing. It distresses the overall social assumption that persons, practices, actions, structures, and institutions are based on their re-negotiation of stabilization and their safety of different forms of knowing. The ethnography of sensitive issues addresses the fluidity and fragility of the social and observes the vulnerability of persons, practices, fields, and settings. Sensitive issues of the social situate beyond the sociological and historical divide of (intimate) privacy and the public sphere. Sensitive issues touch on the violation of intimacy within public and private institutions by neglect, punishment, maltreatment, violence, bullying, and sexual violence. The problematizing perspectives on such disruptive social practices are particularly relevant for pedagogy and education. An education ethnography of sensitive issues thus asks for the risk of violation within pedagogical arrangements and describes the how and what of the vulnerability of the child and the indicated transgression of or within education practices. However, education settings—children engaging in institutions like the family, the school, and social care services—are constructed through the (unconscious) boundless aim of well-being, pedagogy for good, and positivity by education in its normativity. How do children learn to believe that what others say or do is for their good? How do educational arrangements cover vulnerable situations? Where are the borders or limitations within practices of education in pedagogical institutions? An education ethnography of sensitive issues problematizes the implicit, tacit, and practical knowledge of pedagogical arrangements and questions how those involved perform violence and, within the practices, at what stages of vulnerability. Questioning violence and vulnerability points out that children sadly are not always recognized as equals and are equated by the other (child or adult). Sensitive issues in education and care situations define a greater net of responsibilities and its totality of practices of the powerful. Thus, it seems socially and educationally mandatory to gain descriptions and theories about the circumstances of sensitive issues in the examples of neglect of the individual in his or her rights and psychological and emotional situatedness, as well as physical punishment and sexual violence against children. Focusing on violations and problematizing educational practices through research has ethical and moral restrictions that seem to contradict an ethnographic approach. It is (normatively) impossible for the ethnographer to participate in situ in situations of sensitive issues of violence and maltreatment against children. Additionally, seeing ethnography as a methodological and theoretical approach, an ethnography of sensitive issues could not be restricted to those who (autoethnographically) experience violations and maltreatment by themselves. Instead of arguing for a constrained ethnography of sensitive issues, the particular perspective on sensitive issues highlights the ethnographic approach. This goes along with understanding borders and transgressions as well as the taboos in the field and the challenging task of positioning oneself as an observer to be trusted in the uncertainty, unsafety, and instability of the nearest possible worlds. Hence, an education ethnography of sensitive issues considers researching intimacy at its boarders, limits, heterotopia, and transgressions of pedagogical practices within educational institutions and care situations.