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.
Educational reforms have become the normal condition of education, and educational reforms will come ever more frequently due to rapid and accelerated changes to the world in which we live. Reforms are always concerned with anticipating the future due to the belief that education can be done better in and for the future. When pedagogy orients itself towards the future, demand for a solid basis for its decisions becomes pressing. Therefore, trend analysis has become an industry that seeks to establish an (you might say) uncertain certainty about an uncertain future as a basis for reforms in and of the educational system. In its orientation towards the future, education seems to be in a process of transformation into new combinations of tradition in the sense of normative, philosophical considerations and evidence for what works in education and for ensuring that students can achieve their best, which is the purpose of teaching and education.
Luciana C. de Oliveira and Sharon L. Smith
Systemic functional linguistics (SFL), a meaning-based theory of language, has been used throughout the world as a discourse analytic approach and, more recently, as a framework for implementing pedagogy in the classroom. SFL has much to offer teachers as a pedagogical approach. The integration of SFL into teacher education and continuing professional learning has been shown to have a positive impact on developing teachers’ knowledge about language, their ability to instruct students by focusing on language and literacy development, and their focus on critical components of language for diverse learners. SFL theory does not provide teacher educators with a developed curriculum for implementation; therefore, the ways in which it has been used across teacher education have varied depending on teachers’ level of instruction (elementary, secondary, or tertiary), familiarity with SFL concepts, and preservice or in-service status. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to SFL inclusion in teacher education, but some principles derived from SFL in teacher education literature may enable teacher educators to consider how this theory of language and pedagogical framework can be used in teacher education programs.
James P. Lantolf
L. S. Vygotsky proposed that human consciousness entails the dialectical interaction between memory, attention, perception, emotion and motivation, imagination, and rational thought, organized in large part through language, or more appropriately, communicative meaning-making activity. The development of consciousness occurs more or less spontaneously (i.e., unplanned) in everyday life activity and in more systematically organized and intentionally planned educational activity. An important component of the developmental process is the conceptual knowledge that cultures make available to their through various types of social relations. In everyday life, this knowledge is largely empirically based, while in formally organized educational development conceptual knowledge is highly systematic and much more readily recontextualizable than is everyday knowledge. Academic concepts are derived from rigorous research and as such reveal processes and components of material reality that are otherwise hidden from direct empirical observation by our senses. The responsibility of presenting and explaining academic concepts to students in educational activity is carried out by specially prepared individuals—teachers—who engage students in intentionally planned and (hopefully) rigorous interactions, mediated largely, though not exclusively, through language. According to the pedagogical imperative, as it relates to instruction in world languages, relevant high quality theoretical and conceptual knowledge must be made pedagogically viable; that is, understandable to both teachers and learners and it must be useable by learners to mediate their generation of meaning in practical communicative activities. The knowledge must be presented in a memorable way, usually in a holistic visual representation rather than traditional verbally based rules of thumb and learners must be guided through appropriate prompts, clues, and hints provided primarily by teachers, but at times also by peers, to internalize this knowledge so that it becomes functional in communicative practices. Finally, recognition must be given to the fact that development of any kind, including that provoked by educational practice, must not only take account of the participants (students and teachers) intellect, it must also profoundly consider the emotional aspects of the educational process as teachers and learners engage in the dialectic process captured by Vygotsky in the Russian term, obuchenie, or teaching–learning, whereby teachers and learners engage in a process of mutual mediation.
The manner in which special educators and allied health personnel communicate and coordinate their combined services for children with complex conditions (such as autism and severe communication impairments) is considered to be an important factor in educational outcomes. For example, speech-language pathologists play a crucial role in supporting teachers by assessing a child’s communication potential, designing and then implementing collaborative communication intervention programs. However, clinicians trained to administer standardized expressive language assessments may be somewhat unsure where to start when asked to assess a child who presents with nonsymbolic communication skills. These highly specialized workplace situations are likely to evoke circumstances where professionals may need additional one-to-one guidance. The need for continuing professional development has long been recognized by the education sector when developing effective educational provision for children with special needs. To that end, tertiary institutions have a commitment to support the continuing education of their graduates once they begin their careers. Unfortunately, not everyone can invest the years that full-time or part-time postgraduate courses of study demand. Due to a reduction in postgraduate completion rates, universities have recently accepted that offering micro-credentialing (i.e., continuing professional development in small, intensive chunks) is now a part of their mandate. Blended learning is a viable model for such professional development because this approach provides access to an online community where collegial sharing and discussion can occur. It can also offer face-to-face sessions that may strengthen community building and instant access to a network of professionals for training and development, in an anytime and anywhere professional learning environment, resulting in the fostering of a collaborative professional community.