Afro-pessimism is a lens that meditates heavily on the endless consequences the Black body experiences via its position as a nonbeing and slave—a position opposite of Humanity. The marker of Human is reserved for non-Blacks. Modernity is that which has birthed this hierarchy, this structure of the world, and this division of bodies. The slave and the Black are synonymous ontological markers that leave the Black body as an ever-vulnerable creature experiencing endless violence. The slave is a socially dead nonbeing. This reality creates conundrums for enacting methods of redress. And the violence that saturates the realm in which the slave resides is not that which is analogous to the oppression narratives impacting non-Black people of color. Many of the scholars of U.S. curriculum, and generations of scholars within and around the field of curriculum studies, have long sought to utilize U.S. curriculum to address social ills and to thwart any regimes aimed at hindering the nation’s imaginary thrust toward democratic ideals. From the onset, curriculum has been a battleground atop which ideological interests have guided its direction and shaped its composition. Curriculum has long been a social and cultural arcade of democratic deliberation and a site in which one meditates on Humanism’s ideals. In the 1970s, the field of curriculum studies was specifically marked by a reconceptualization that would institute a method for addressing the psychic and social ills plaguing U.S. society (with confident applicability abroad). The method, called currere, was engineered to awaken and deepen one’s engagement with oneself and to reinforce one’s connectivity with the inhabitants of one’s society and world. This includes a rescuing of the individual psyche from depersonalization and derealization—with the end being: An integrated self. This integrated self is then recast into the world with an awakened agency and an enlarged empathic register laced with moral and ethical commitments. This integrated self would be charged with engaging in transformative action within the larger society—aimed at salvaging the tears in the nation’s social fabric by building toward the tenets of democratic idealism. This method is believed to be universally applicable as it is designed to aid and transform the experiences of those who exist at all rungs of the social hierarchy. This method, and its evolved forms, is ultimately designed to challenge hegemonic interests. Afro-pessimism asserts that curriculum’s very composition simultaneously forgets and exploits the Black. Afro-pessimism asserts that curriculum’s antihegemonic weaponry and psychoanalytic instruments cannot spoil the plight of those who are beyond and outside of hegemony’s Human intervals and whose psyches are endlessly disrupted by an invasive Whiteness. Afro-pessimism asserts that the liberative mission of curriculum/currere/the field of curriculum studies is a Humanism that is designed for all who are not Black and perpetuates anti-Black violence.
Dialogic education is a relatively new force in educational theory and practice. Despite the variety of approaches to dialogic education, it nonetheless offers a coherent theory of education with implications not only for how education should be practiced but also for the purposes of education. Dialogic education takes place through dialogue which means opening up dialogic spaces in which different perspectives can clash or play together and new learning can occur. But dialogic education is not only education through dialogue, it is also education for dialogue, meaning that as a result of dialogic education learners become better at learning together with others through dialogue. The intellectual background of dialogic education theory goes back at least as far as Socrates and includes thinkers as varied as Freire, who saw dialogic education as a means of liberation from oppression, and Oakeshott, who understood education to be a process of engaging learners in their cultural inheritance, described as “the conversation of mankind.” Bakhtin, an influential source for recent dialogic educational theory, argues that meaning requires the clash and interaction of multiple voices. There are a range of approaches to implementing dialogic education, varying in the extent to which they focus on teacher to student dialogue, small group dialogues, and whole class dialogues. All approaches include some idea of (1) a dialogic orientation toward the other, characterized by an openness to the possibility of learning, and (2) social norms that support productive dialogue. Published assessments of the impact of dialogic education in relation to general thinking skills, curriculum learning gains, and conceptual understanding have been positive. However, the assessment of dialogic education raises methodological issues, and new methodologies are being developed that align better with dialogic theory and with the idea of measuring increased dialogicity, or expanded “dialogic space.” Assuming that dialogic education works to promote educational goals, various hypotheses have been suggested as to how it works, including some that focus on the co-construction of new meaning through explicit language use, others that focus more on changes in the identity of students, and others on changes in the possibilities of engagement afforded by the culture of classrooms. There are many issues and controversies raised by dialogic education. One issue is the extent to which dialogue as a goal is compatible with a curriculum that pre-specifies certain learning outcomes. Another is the extent to which teaching a set of social norms and practices promoting dialogue might be a kind of cultural imperialism that fails to recognize and value the culture of the students. These and other challenges to dialogic education are part of a lively and constructive debate in the field, which values a multiplicity of voices within the broader context of convergence on the value of teaching through dialogue and teaching for dialogue.
Ann Briggs and Marianne Coleman
Research in educational leadership and management spans settings from early childhood to tertiary education and life-long learning. From its mid-20th-century beginnings as a tool for organizing educational systems, the wide range of methodologies in present use reflects the shifting focus of the field. The current mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches indicates differing epistemological stances and a range of purposes from instrumental responses to government policy initiatives, through investigation of issues of social justice, to personal enquiry into leadership influence on environments for learning. Research in the field encompasses the values and dilemmas underpinning educational leadership roles, the enactment of middle leadership, teacher leadership and student leadership, and includes leaders conducting research to improve their own practice. Multiple aspects of decision-making are involved in educational leadership research. The philosophical assumptions of researchers inform their positivist or interpretivist stance and the associated choices of quantitative or qualitative methodology. The external drivers of the investigation, together with its purpose and scope, influence the choice of research approach —for example, data-mining, survey, case study, action research—and technique—interview, questionnaire, documentary analysis, narrative, and life-history. These approaches and techniques in turn invite a range of analytical methods, from statistical modeling, systematic qualitative data analysis and discourse analysis to auto-ethnographic critical reflection and reflective narrative. The interpretation of the analysis hinges on the purpose of the research: to understand, inform, improve, or bring about change. Twenty-first-century challenges for the field include expanding theory beyond a largely Western-centric focus; responding to the development of new theories of leadership, including the voice of non-leaders in perspectives on leadership; ensuring that research informs policy rather than vice versa; and addressing the sheer volume and nature of data available through emerging technologies.
Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon
In the Euro-western world, caring is not a new concept in the fields of philosophy or education; we find examples of writings concerning caring that date back to Ancient Greece. Caring, associated with emotions, has never held as high a status as “reason” in Euro-western, male-dominated philosophy. However, there are exceptions that stand out, such as pragmatist John Dewey’s sympathetic understanding and existentialist Martin Buber’s deeply spiritual I–Thou. Attention was drawn to caring in the 1960s and 1970s due to humanistic psychologists such as Carl Rogers and Milton Mayeroff. Feminist work on caring began building strength during this same time frame, although it can be dated back to Jane Addams’s educational work with immigration families at Hull House, Chicago, in the 1890s, and her peace activism during World War I, which resulted in her receiving a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. As more women were offered the opportunity to earn college degrees, a space opened up for considering what women might uniquely have to offer to their various fields of study. Care theory in the 1960s and 1970s sought to bring out important ways of knowing associated with care work, which included domestic care (care of homes, families’ health, emotional and physical well-being), and fields of study and work focused on caring such as nursing and teaching. The 1980s and 1990s brought further development of care theory and expansion by scholars such as Carol Gilligan, Sara Ruddick, and Nel Noddings, as well as strong critiques by other scholars who worried that “caring” was honoring the relational work women do by overgeneralizing women, ignoring race and cultural differences, for example, by essentializing women and not recognizing gender differences, by being exclusionary of nonchildrearing women who are not care workers in the home, and by ignoring men who do this kind of work, and more. It is important to give a generous description of the earlier work, consider key critiques, and care theorists’ responses to these critiques, for the strong response by scholars to postcolonial, postmodern, critical race and queer theories’ critiques was to devalue care theory. It is also important to note that attention to care theory is returning. Philosophers of education are responding to more recent [since 2000] student assessment trends by reclaiming the importance of teachers’ diverse caring relationships with students, as well as students’ caring relationships with each other and toward their environment. Ecological concerns are bringing a focus back to care theory that is deeply rooted in humans’ connections to nature, given women’s fundamental physical, reproductive, and maternal roles. Care theory continues to contribute to peacebuilding efforts around the world, through a relational ontology that starts with the assumption that we are all born with relationships with our biological mothers, adoptive families, and extended communities. With each child born comes the renewed hope of peace. As can be seen, due to the size of this topic, we must be selective in addressing particular aspects while pointing the reader to other sources they may want to turn to for more insights.
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.
Ethnography is about cultural representation, which implies a gaze and set of questions and assumptions about who is being represented, by whom, and what for. In this sense, ethnography always is conducted across borders where borders imply a set of differences to confront and understand, even while the ethnographer is expected to effectively overcome these through embedded practice in the field. If the enterprise of conducting these studies is always marked by border crossing, then what are the different ways in which border crossings happen in knowledge production through ethnography? How does the definition of “border” change the way ethnographic studies are performed? Potential shifts in the meaning of “borders” heightens the importance of interrogating cultural representation, the social locations that ethnographers occupy, see, and speak from, and how perspectives on cultural representation and actual representations will differ. These dynamics build up when, as here, ethnography across borders implies the presence of the nation-state, either as palimpsest or direct actor in the relations and daily lives of the community-participant in the ethnography. Borders are necessarily evoked—geopolitical, social, cultural, national, regional, global, and personal ones, such as gender, race, class, and ethnicity. Ethnography across borders emerges in this instance as a methodology and a stance to deconstruct the ways in which ethnographers and ethnographies are radically situated in their own histories, and how radical contextualization of those histories is required to understand across borders and uncover the limits of cultural representation, language, and ethnography as a tool to understand the lives of people, their histories, and communities.