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Article

Transformative Leadership  

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

Gender and Transformative Education in East Africa  

George Ladaah Openjuru

Gender and transformative education are a unique combination that needs careful consideration. One is drawn to focusing on gender and education in an attempt to bring about gender perspective transformation. Gender-related transformation of education can be accomplished in a variety of scales and approaches. This approach could change how education is organized in ways that recognize gender differences or inequality, do not exacerbate gender inequity, and enhance gender awareness, and aim to promote gender equity and equality in education. This intervention could take the form of gender mainstreaming and other affirmative actions which can be achieved through gender policies, gender-responsive pedagogy, and curriculum development. There is no doubt that, regardless of all the efforts that have been put in place to overcome gender inequality in education, gender inequality still exists and continue to persist at all levels of education and hence the need for transformative education which is education for change. Educators should follow transformative education to enable them to identify practices and ways of teaching and learning that are not gender sensitive and can take corrective measures in the direction that can overcome gender disparity in education by avoiding action that promotes gender disadvantages.

Article

Transformational School Leadership to Dismantle Inequitable Systems  

Deirdra Preis

A key reason for the failure of U.S. school leaders to challenge systems of inequity is the lack of exposure to the theory and skill development needed to manage the resistance and political challenges that inevitably occur when interrogating unjust traditions of practice. As preparation programs aim to improve their candidates’ future success in addressing inequitable educational access, it is critical that they develop in their students the self-efficacy around relational practices and strategies needed to manage the micropolitics of transformative work. Examining how transformative K–12 school leaders effectively challenge structural inequities and manage to sustain their leadership positions during turbulent times can help to inform such curricular and instructional revisions. Some of the key practices identified by successful transformative K–12 leaders include engaging in reflection around their positionality, developing racial literacy, effectively facilitating shared visions and collective responsibility for social justice advocacy, building the capacity of stakeholders, developing critical alliances through transparent and authentic community involvement, and participating in supportive professional peer networks that offer ongoing reflection, study, and support. By providing such content and skill practice, and ensuring that instruction and mentoring are provided by faculty who are experienced in transformative leadership, leader candidates can be better prepared for the realities of this challenging work, increasing the likelihood that they will act transformatively upon assuming school leadership roles.

Article

Gender and Education in Uganda  

David Monk, Maria del Guadalupe Davidson, and John C. Harris

Gendered oppression is complex and situated in social constructs which are manifested and learned in education institutions and learning programs the world over. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are an international attempt to create a more equitable world, and they include both education and gender as independent and interdependent goals. Uganda is a country that is attempting to address the significant gender oppression that plagues it. To cure gender oppression realistically and fully, a deep and transformative approach that addresses systemic power imbalances is essential. A disruption of this magnitude requires critical and empowering education that simultaneously ruptures the violence of patriarchy and creates conditions of capability for everyone to heal and move forward together.

Article

Climate Change and Worldview Transformation in Finnish Education Policy  

Harriet Zilliacus and Lili-Ann Wolff

The climate crisis calls for changes in all areas of human life. One such area is the education sector, which needs to be the target of urgent reform to be able to support these crucial changes. International sustainability policies call for transformative changes in worldviews that may inspire new ways of thinking and acting. Worldview transformation means a major change in deep-rooted ways of viewing the world that results in long-lasting changes in individuals’ sense of self, their perception of their relationship to the world, and even their entire way of being. Worldviews interface with perceptions of issues like climate change in ways that are frequently overlooked. The climate crisis demands a reorientation and transformation of worldviews, a change in which education can play a pivotal role. Therefore, the crisis also calls for rapid educational policy reforms. A central question is how to make worldview transformation related to sustainability visible in education policy. The general school education curricula in Finland (Grades 1–12) express sustainability as a core aim. However, it is debatable whether educational policy such as the Finnish curricula can promote worldview transformation. Contesting policy objectives and gaps between policy and practice can prevent education from dealing effectively with large worldview quandaries such as the climate crisis. In addition, unclear relationships between research and policy are fundamental obstacles during policy development. Finally, an overriding concern in policy is the lack of focus on urgent global dilemmas; consequently, it does not per se promote learning that could lead to radical change.

Article

Queer Students in the Carceral State  

Erica Meiners and Jessica Fuentes

Despite the gains some components of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community achieved during the 2010s in the United States and across the globe, young queer students in K–12 educational environments are still vulnerable to criminalization. Dismantling the movement of young queer youth into the U.S. carceral state also requires challenging systems that may be perceived to be unconnected. School privatization and the deprofessionalization and removal of employment protections for school personnel shapes cultures in schools for LGBTQ young people. Punitive school discipline policies—which often purport to protect queer students—deepen criminalization and do not produce safer schools. While policy shifts may be necessary, they are never sufficient, and building support for all young people, including LGBTQ communities, requires ideological and paradigm shifts, not simply quick fixes. The tools of the carceral state—including increased punishment—will not produce the kind of safety that schools and communities need.

Article

Heuristic Inquiry in Teacher Education  

Rochelle Fogelgarn

Teacher educators often encounter novice pre-service teachers who naively declare that their chief motivation for choosing a teacher training course is their passion for teaching children and young adults. Our challenge is to sustain that passion and transform it into effective pedagogical practice. As education is a profession with a crucially important affective dimension, preparing pre-service teachers for the rigors of daily teaching requires more than facilitating the acquisition of pedagogical technique and strategy. Heuristic inquiry is a methodological approach that affords teachers-as-researchers the means to portray the lived experience of teaching so that both pre- and in-service teachers can identify with, and learn about, the holistic experience of teaching. In contrast to other methodologies, the heuristic researcher’s own experience regarding the phenomenon informs, guides, and interacts with the lived experience of the study participants. The multidimensional, multiperspectival, and multifaceted “story” of the lived experience of teaching which emerges from a disciplined heuristic inquiry provides pre-service teachers with a window through which they can vicariously experience the joys, challenges, and risks inherent in the work of teaching. Being more deeply aware of what to expect may better prepare novice teachers to remain within the profession with their initial passion intact. As a methodological approach, heuristics involves self-inquiry and dialogue with others in order to discover the meaning, significance, and implications of pertinent human experience. Knowledge crystallizes within the researcher in consequence of sensory input, perception, transpersonal communication, belief, and judgment. The individual and composite portrayals and the creatively synthesized essence of the phenomenon that evolve from heuristic exploration coalesce to give a powerful picture of human experience. When heuristic inquiry depicts the dedicated efforts of dynamic teachers who have managed to make a real and enduring impact on their students’ learning and transformative growth, insight is likely to emerge regarding how to ensure the vibrant sustenance of inspired, effective teaching.

Article

Teachers’ Knowledge for the Digital Age  

Margaret L. Niess

The 21st-century entrance of digital media into education has required serious reconsideration of the knowledge teachers need for guiding students’ learning with the enhanced technological affordances. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK or TPACK) describes the interaction of the overlapping regions of technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and content knowledge that also creates four additional regions (technological pedagogical knowledge, technological content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and technological pedagogical content knowledge). These knowledge regions are situated within a contextual knowledge domain that contains macro, meso, and micro levels for describing the dynamic equilibrium of the reformed teacher knowledge labeled TPCK/TPACK. Teacher educators, researchers, and scholars have been and continue to be challenged with identifying appropriate experiences and programs that develop, assess, and transform teachers’ knowledge for integrating information and communication technologies (ICT) that are also spurring advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) as learning tools in today’s reformed educational environments. Two questions guide this literature review for engaging the active, international scholarship and research directed toward understanding the nature of TPCK/TPACK and efforts guiding the transformation of the teacher’s knowledge called TPCK/TPACK. The first question considers the nature of a teacher’s knowledge for the digital age and how it differs from prior descriptions. Three distinct views of the nature of TPCK/TPACK are explained: the integrative view; the transformative view; and a distinctive view that directs how the primary domains of pedagogy, content, and technology enhance the teacher’s knowledge. The second question explores the research and scholarship recommending strategies for the redesign of teacher education towards developing, assessing, and transforming teachers’ TPCK/TPACK. These strategies recognize the importance of (1) using teacher educators as role models, (2) reflecting on the role of ICT in education, (3) learning how to use technology by design, (4) scaffolding authentic technology experiences, (5) collaborating with peers, and (6) providing continuous feedback. This research further characterizes teacher educators with strong ICT attributes as the gatekeepers for redesigning teacher education programs so that today’s teachers are better prepared to engage in the strategic thinking of when, where, and how to guide students’ learning given the rapid advancements of digital technologies. These cumulative scholarly efforts provide a launchpad for future research toward transforming teachers’ knowledge for teaching with the technological advancements of the digital age.

Article

Gender, Intersectionality, and World-Making Possibilities in Education  

Dara Nix-Stevenson

In the sphere of education, there is an ongoing conversation of world-making possibilities related to centering gender and its intersections in educational contexts. Central to this notion is a triangulation of family, school, and community. The world-making possibilities of this triangulation is bolstered by six characteristics: shared responsibility for student learning among school staff, families, and the larger community; seamless and continuous support for learning from birth to career; creation of pathways that honor the dynamic, multiple, and complementary ways that students learn; supportive culture for learning both in the classroom and throughout the community; opportunities and processes to foster advocacy for student learning; and quality education and learning opportunities for every child. Moving beyond this notion, a racialized and gendered dimension considers the influence of institutionalized racism and anti-Blackness in society on the academic success of children.

Article

Restorative Justice in Education  

Kristin Elaine Reimer and Crystena Parker-Shandal

Restorative justice in education (RJE) is a philosophical framework that centers relationships in schools, calls attention to issues of justice and equity, and provides processes to heal harm and transform conflict. The use of restorative justice (RJ) in schools gained large-scale attention from teachers and school boards since the 2010s. In the 1990s and early 2000s many school boards around the world took up what was generally known as “zero tolerance” approaches. It meant that punitive responses, such as suspension, expulsion, and exclusionary practices, were used by administrators and teachers more readily and frequently. Research continues to show that exclusionary punishments are harmful—especially to Indigenous students, students of color, and other marginalized students—in many ways, for example, increasing dropout rates, decreasing overall student achievement, and strengthening the school-to-prison pipeline. Gaining more momentum in the 2010s (although practiced by many teachers and communities before this), RJ approaches became a way to challenge a system that was simply not working and further harming students. Many educators and school boards saw RJE as a means to reduce suspensions and expulsions and to increase their graduation rates. Others have seen RJE as a critical process for facilitating school equity and racial justice. This continuum of approaches to RJE impacts how research is conducted, what research questions are asked, who is included in the research process, and how it is disseminated. While some researchers still position RJE as solely an alternative to punitive disciplinary models, an increasing number of researchers view RJE as a paradigm shift for how people relate to one another in the context of schools, including through relational approaches to pedagogy. This relational way of being centers people’s humanity and promotes shared accountability within learning communities.

Article

Adult Learners  

Mark Tennant

Adult learning is described as learning undertaken by adults in natural educational settings as opposed to the experimental settings often undertaken in psychological research on learning. As such, the theory and research on adult learning referred to in this article primarily draws on applied educational research reported in adult education journals. Much of this research is informed by psychological and social research and theory, and this is acknowledged in each of six adult learning themes outlined in this article. These themes are self-directed learning, experience and learning, learning styles, the development of identity in the adult years, intellectual and cognitive development, and transformative learning. While these themes focus on adult learning in a general sense, our understanding of adult learning also needs to be seen in relation to the context in question; contexts such as health, the third age, indigenous knowledge, literacy and numeracy, the environment, disability, community education, gender equity, race, and migrant and refugee education. The literature on adult learning offers very few prescriptive bridges linking research, theory, and practice. This is partly because there are competing theories posing different questions and offering opposing interpretations of research findings, but it is also because the purpose and function of education and learning is a contested field. In these circumstances the best approach for practitioners is to interrogate and improve their practice through engaging with research findings, competing models, and competing theories. In this way they are aware of the variables at play and can formulate practices that are consistent with their educational aims and purposes. The link between research, theory and practice is conceptual rather than prescriptive, with practitioners interrogating and improving their practice by engaging with the issues and the competing claims of theory and research.