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History and Social Studies Curriculum  

E. Wayne Ross

Social studies education has had a turbulent history as one of the core subjects in the school curriculum. The fundamental content of the social studies curriculum – the study of human enterprise across space and time –however, has always been at the core of educational endeavors. It is generally accepted that the formal introduction of social studies to the school curriculum was instigated by the 1916 report of the National Education Association’s Committee on Social Studies, which emphasized development of citizenship values as a core aim of history and social science education. Earlier commissions of the N.E.A. and American Historical Association heavily influenced the Committee on Social Studies recommendations. The roots of the contemporary social studies curriculum, therefore, can be traced to two distinct curriculum reform efforts: the introduction of academic history into the curriculum and citizenship education. There is widespread agreement that the aim of social studies is citizenship education, that is the preparation of young people so that they possess the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for active participation in society. This apparent consensus, however, has been described as almost meaningless because social studies educators continue to be at odds over curricular content as well as the conception of what it means to be a good citizen. Since its formal introduction into the school, social studies curriculum been the subject of numerous commission and blue-ribbon panel studies, ranging from the sixteen-volume report of the American Historical Association’s Commission on Social Studies in the 1930s to the more recent movement for national curriculum standards. Separate and competing curriculum standards have been published for no less than seven areas of that are part of the social studies curriculum: United States and global history, economics, geography, civics, psychology, and social studies. Social studies curriculum is defined a lack of consensus and has been an ideological battleground with ongoing debates over its nature, purpose, and content. Historically there have been a diverse range of curricular programs that have been a prominent within social studies education at various times, including the life adjustment movement, progressive education, social reconstructionism, and nationalistic history. The debate over the nature, purpose, and content of the social studies curriculum continues today, with competing groups variously arguing for a social issues approach, the disciplinary study of history and geography, or action for social justice as the most appropriate framework for the social studies curriculum.

Article

Evidence-Based Practices in Special Schooling  

David Mitchell

Increasingly, around the world, educators are being expected to draw upon research-based evidence in planning, implementing, and evaluating their activities. Evidence-based strategies comprise clearly specified teaching methods and school-level factors that have been shown in controlled research to be effective in bringing about desired outcomes in a specified population of learners and under what conditions, in this case those with special educational needs/disabilities taught in special schooling, whether it be in separate schools or classrooms or in inclusive classrooms. Educators could, and should, be drawing upon the best available evidence as they plan, implement, and evaluate their teaching of such learners. Since around 2010 there has been a growing commitment to evidence-based education. This has been reflected in: 1. legislation: for example, the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act in the United States, which encourages the use of specific programs and practices that have been rigorously evaluated and defines strong, moderate, and promising levels of evidence for programs and practices; 2. the creation of centers specializing in gathering and disseminating evidence-based education policies and practices, brokering connections between policy-makers, practitioners, and researchers; and 3. a growing body of research into effective strategies, both in general and with respect to learners with special educational needs. Even so, in most countries there is a significant gap between what researchers have found and the educational policies and practices implemented by professionals. Moreover, some scholars criticize the emphasis on evidence-based education, particularly what they perceive to be the prominence given to quantitative or positivist research in general and to randomized controlled trials in particular. In putting evidence-based strategies into action, a five-step model could be employed. This involves identifying local needs, selecting relevant interventions, planning for implementation, implementing, and examining and reflecting on the interventions.

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

Teacher Education and its Effects on Teaching and Learning  

Annemarie Palincsar, Gabriel DellaVecchia, and Kathleen M. Easley

Exploring the relationships between teacher education, teaching, and student achievement is a complex undertaking for a host of reasons, including the complexity of teaching, the number of different approaches to teacher education, the challenges associated with measuring teacher knowledge and teacher effectiveness, and the multiple mediators that operate in the study of teaching and learning. Teaching expertise requires technical skills that support instruction, theoretical knowledge, codified knowledge that guides professional decision-making, and critical analysis, which, in turn, informs the enlistment of technical skills and the development of codified knowledge. There is little consensus regarding the specific teacher characteristics that consistently lead to student achievement, although one hypothesis that has received considerable attention in the literature is the importance of teacher subject-matter knowledge. One of the challenges to making definitive statements regarding teacher education and its effects on teaching is that there are multiple approaches to teacher training. These approaches differ in terms of the candidates recruited, admission requirements, course content, the duration of training, the roles and extent of field-based experiences, and relationships with schools. Among claims regarding alternative preparation programs (i.e., programs that are not university-based), for which there is emerging support, is that alternative route teacher education programs are attracting a pool of prospective teachers of diverse age and ethnicity. Furthermore, alternatively certified teachers are choosing to teach in urban settings or settings with large numbers of minoritized students. With respect to measuring the effects of teacher education, a number of methods have been deployed including correlational studies investigating, for example, the relationship between the number of reading courses a teacher has taken and student performance on reading assessments, descriptive case studies of educational systems that are identified as successful, syllabus studies, and quasi-experimental studies. The field is developing more sophisticated and comprehensive measures and methods, as well as theoretical constructs to guide the study of teacher education and its effects on teaching and learning. The study of teacher education and its effects on student learning will benefit from the use of multiple methods—for example, large-scale studies complemented by carefully constructed case studies. In addition, this area will benefit from interdisciplinary scholarship by teams that include scholars who have a deep understanding of teaching and learning, adult development, school systems, and economics so that the field can acquire a more coherent and comprehensive understanding of the complexity of becoming a teacher.

Article

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and School Leadership in Action  

Tomoko Takahashi

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871–1944) was a geographer, elementary school teacher and principal, and educational reformer, who was active in the early-to-mid 1900s in Japan. As a school leader and scholar-practitioner guided by a passion for supporting teachers and improving education for the happiness of children, Makiguchi scrutinized pedagogy as a science and proposed a number of reforms of the Japanese education system, key elements of which, he believed, were failing teachers and students alike. His proposals included, among many: the establishment of standards of competency expected of school principals as well as a system of examination to uphold these standards; the abolition of a government-led school inspection system that pressured and restricted teachers from freely conducting teaching activities; and the establishment of an “education research institute” and an organization for the training of teachers. The growing number of modern educational scholars and practitioners paying attention to Makiguchi’s work and philosophy find his ideas not only valid and applicable to education in the 21st century but also remarkably innovative and insightful. His proposal for school leadership was still but a voice in the wilderness in the 1930s. It was also a bold and audacious attempt for him, especially at the time of the militarist regime. Makiguchi is often compared with his contemporary John Dewey (1859–1952). Evidently, Makiguchi and Dewey were both visionaries, passionate school leaders, and fearless reformers. Bearing this in mind, Makiguchi deserves much more attention than he has received thus far—at least as much as Dewey, if we are to balance the historical account of progressive education as a transnational phenomenon.

Article

Schooling in Racist America  

Zeus Leonardo

Education is both a racial and class project. This means that a multidimensional theory of educational stratification is necessary if an accurate appraisal of schooling’s modern appearance in capitalist, racialized states is central to the research endeavor. Critiques of capitalism are found in critical pedagogy and Marxist studies of education since the 1970s, which argue that schooling’s intellectual division of labor mirrors the material structures of a capitalist division of labor. In addition, the advent of critical race theory in education since 1995 provides compelling evidence that schooling is not only an ideological apparatus of the capitalist state but also equally of the racist state. Together, developing a critical class theory and critical race theory of education offers a more complete explanation of educational stratification in order to understand its processes and perhaps ways to intervene in them.

Article

Critical Perspectives on Positive Youth Development and Environmental Education  

Marianne E. Krasny, Tania M. Schusler, Jesse Delia, Anne Katherine Armstrong, and Lilly Briggs

Positive youth development (PYD) assumes that, when given appropriate support, all youth have the capacity to develop the assets that enable them to succeed in life. Such assets include competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution to community, otherwise known as the six Cs of PYD. Environmental education (EE) programs that focus on youth action and empowerment offer the support needed for youth to develop these assets. Youth after-school, summer, and residential programs, often serving low-income and minoritized youth, increasingly are using environmental action and learning as a means to achieve PYD outcomes. Yet both PYD and EE have been criticized for not addressing the root causes of poverty and environmental degradation. In response, critical traditions in PYD and EE have emerged, in which youth reflect and act on structural barriers to human and environmental well-being in their communities. As youth and their mentors seek to address systemic inequities impacting themselves and their environment, they develop additional “Critical Positive Youth Development/Environmental Education” assets including critical reflection, efficacy, the ability to take collective action, and community-level empowerment.

Article

Diaspora Curriculum  

Ming Fang He

Diaspora curriculum draws upon a wide array of theoretical traditions of diasporas such as conceptions of diasporas; the breadth, diversity, and complexity of diasporas; diaspora consciousness; diasporic space and the in-betweenness of diasporas; exile and diaspora epistemology; exile pedagogy; exile curriculum; decolonizing diasporas; diasporic imaginaries and diasporic futurism; Afrofuturism; and Indigenous futurism. The diaspora curriculum, with its epistemological similarity to exile pedagogy and exile curriculum, is interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and counterdisciplinary. Diaspora curriculum is international, transnational, and counternational. Diaspora curriculum, with its interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, and counterdisciplinarity, thrives with diverse paradigms, perspectives, and possibilities, and demands multiple understandings toward commonplaces (teachers, learners, subject matters, and milieu) in diverse contexts. The breadth, diversity, and complexity of diaspora curriculum and its practical relevance are central to a wide array of educational thoughts reflected in contested theories, practices, and contexts. In addition to its breadth, diversity, and complexity, another illuminating aspect of diaspora curriculum is evolving diasporic imaginaries, where we can keep our hopes and dreams alive in hard times when white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and settler colonialism are bolstered by hatred of differences. Such diasporic imaginaries invent diasporic futurities and cultivate radical possibilities and revolutionary imagination. Such diasporic futurities exhilarate diasporic consciousness that educates hope, evokes different histories and different futures, and invigorates radical love. Such diasporic consciousness enables people to find the strength, faith, and humility to join in common struggles and build solidarity across differences to fight against all forms of oppression. Such diasporic futurities inspire optimism over despair, love over hatred, and possibilities over impossibilities. Such diasporic futurities invigorate diasporic space for imagined communities where curriculum workers work with other educational workers such as researchers, educators, teachers, administrators, parents, students, community workers, and policy makers to heal the soul of humanity and planet with shared interests, principles, and visions for desirable collective futures in an increasingly complicated, diversified, uncertain, and fragile world.

Article

Mathematics and School Reform in India  

Farida Abdulla Khan and Charu Gupta

Initial efforts toward reform in mathematics education in India evolved out of a more general concern for educational reforms as they assumed a pivotal role in the agenda of modernization and development after independence. Mathematics as a foundational aspect of science and technology assumed a privileged status with recommendations to keep up with developments in technologically advanced countries. This led to the creation of an unduly loaded curriculum with little attention to children’s cognitive and developmental capacities and other more social and humane aspects of a well-rounded education. The early decades after independence were largely focused on providing access, and other than the rhetoric of equality and quality and overarching recommendations, little investment was made into researching the more nuanced aspects of learning and teaching and the social implications of schooling. Several important national commissions and two major policies put forward important recommendations for reform in mathematics education with suggestions for both curriculum and pedagogy. The early decades after independence saw a greater commitment to higher education, especially in the sciences and technology, and this began to shape the school curriculum, with mathematics as a major concern. Although critiques of the system were never totally absent, efforts at intervention in schools and at the ground level were initially made by smaller groups and nongovernmental organizations (NGOS), and then also nationally and regionally, to transform processes of schooling and learning with a focus on the learner rather than the content alone. A particularly large and comprehensive national effort at reforming school education in all subject areas was the National Curricular Framework, coordinated and initiated by the National Council of Educational Research and Training in 2005. This was a radical attempt at framing an alternative idea of schooling and learning, focused on the child, but with an acute awareness of the larger social, economic, and political structures within which schools, classrooms, teachers, and students are implicated.