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Critical Qualitative Research and Educational Policy  

Madeline Good and Sarah Diem

Critical qualitative research is full of possibilities and explorations that can assist in transforming systems for social change and the public good. It is an approach to research that at its core is concerned with the role of power; how it manifests in systems, structures, policies, and practice; and how contexts can contribute to and reify power and its deleterious effects. The use of critical qualitative methods and methodologies within the field of education has grown significantly since the 1990s. This is a large area of work that encompasses studies throughout the spectrum of educational topics, from early childhood learning to higher education and beyond. In the area of educational policy, while scholars use a multitude of critical qualitative methodologies and methods, critical policy analysis (CPA) has continued to grow in popularity. CPA provides opportunities for researchers to question policy in general––how it is formed, implemented, and evaluated, as well as its assumed impact. It is appealing because it gives space for scholars to not only critique educational policy issues but also offer new perspectives, approaches, and alternatives to the policy process. Critical inquiry, however, does not occur within a vacuum, so the dynamics of conducting critical qualitative research within a hyperpolarized sociopolitical context must also be considered. Contentious times make it increasingly important for critical qualitative scholars to (re)commit to the work of transforming education with the goal of creating a more just society. There are a multitude of hopes and opportunities for this burgeoning area of critical research, challenging us all to not only look toward creative approaches when studying issues of educational policy but also to persistently interrogate how our own positionalities and relations impact the work we do.

Article

The Affective Turn in Educational Theory  

Michalinos Zembylas

The “affective turn” in the humanities and social sciences has developed some of the most innovative and productive theoretical ideas in recent years, bringing together psychoanalytically informed theories of subjectivity and subjection, theories of the body and embodiment, and political theories and critical analysis. Although there are clearly different approaches in the affective turn that range from psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, (post-)Deleuzian perspectives, theories of the body, and embodiment to affective politics, there is a substantial turn to the intersections of the social, cultural, and political with the psychic and the unconscious. The affective turn, then, marks a shift in thought in critical theory through an exploration of the complex interrelations of discursive practices, the human body, social and cultural forces, and individually experienced but historically situated affects and emotions. Work in this area has become known as “critical emotion studies” or “critical affect studies.” Just as in other disciplinary areas, there has been a huge surge of interest in education concerning the study of affect and emotion. Affect and emotion have appeared and reappeared in educational theory and practice over the past several decades through a variety of theoretical lenses. For psychologists working with theories of cognition, for example, the meaning of these terms is very different compared to that of a sociologist or philosopher using social or political theories of power. In general, psychologists investigate emotional states and their impact on the body and mind/cognition, whereas “affect” is a much broader term denoting modes of influence, movement, intensity, and change. Within these two meanings—a more psychologized notion focused on the “emotions” as these are usually understood and a more wider perspective on “affect” highlighting difference, process, and force—the affective turn in education expands our thinking and research by attempting to enrich our understanding of how teachers and students are moved, what inspires or pains them, how feelings and memories play into teaching and learning. The affective turn, then, is a particular and particularly focused set of ideas well worth considering, especially because it enables power critiques of various kinds. What the affective turn contributes to education and other disciplines is that it draws attention to the entanglement of affects and emotions with everyday life in new ways. More importantly, the affective turn creates important ethical, political, and pedagogical openings in educators’ efforts to make transformative interventions in educational spaces.

Article

Anti-oppression Education  

Tonya D. Callaghan, Jamie L. Anderson, Caitlin A. Campbell, and Nicole Richard

Throughout history, education systems have operated as a primary mode of socialization wherein students are invited to learn about the world around them by way of dominant narratives that define what is “normal” and “commonsense.” To that end, schooling bifurcates the “normal” from the “Other,” ascribing power to one and over the other. Both explicit and implicit curricula reinforce hegemonic ideologies and serve to reproduce social structures of power through racism, sexism, coloniality, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, and more. Despite the insistence of pedagogical and curricular neutrality, schools are places in which bodies and knowledge are perpetually regulated. As a result of the unequal power dynamic between teachers and students, educators regularly participate in the transmission of hegemonic ideologies and values in their practices. Anti-oppression education (AOE) refers to the mobilizing of pedagogy, curricula, and policymaking to work against the modes of oppression that operate within and outside of schools. Specifically, AOE is concerned with challenging the normalization of inequities at the nexus of race, sex, gender, ability, place of origin, et cetera. Drawing on critical theories, including queer theory, intersectional feminism, and critical race theory, AOE captures numerous pedagogical practices that attend to the social construction of knowledge and consider alternative ways of being, thinking, and doing. In that way, AOE not only seeks to disrupt the repetitions of discursive violence and the material inequities that result from systemic oppression but also aims to reimagine the purpose of schooling altogether as a means for transformation and liberation. Despite waves of political resistance in Canada and the United States that demonize AOE praxis as left-wing radicalism, there remains a need to further examine the role that anti-oppressive practices can play in transforming education systems and improving the well-being of students, staff, and school communities.

Article

The Destructive Long-Term Impact of Disasters on Black and Brown Schooling Communities in the United States  

Cassandra R. Davis

Recent research shows that hurricanes, tropical storms, and flooding are likely to increase in quantity and intensity. Yet, despite the frequency of these hazards, there is little work that documents the relationship between disasters, low-income communities of color, and schooling. There is a dearth of literature documenting how these communities in high-impacted areas are affected, recover, and remain resilient following a storm.

Article

Critical Race Parenting in Education  

Cheryl E. Matias and Shoshanna Bitz

Conceptualized as early as 2006 via ideas of the motherscholar, the concept of Critical Race Parenting (otherwise ParentCrit) was first identified in 2016 in an open access online journal to discuss pedagogical ways parents and children can coconstruct understanding about race, racism, whiteness, and white supremacy. Since then Critical Race Parenting/ParentCrit has become more popularized in academic circles, from peer-reviewed conference presentations to special issues by journals. The rationale behind ParentCrit definitions, theoretical roots, parallels to education, implications to education, scholarship and literature, and controversies are explicated to describe what ParentCrit is and where it came from. To effectively articulate its epistemological roots in the idea of the motherscholar to its relation to Critical Race Theory, one must delve into the purposes, evolution, and implications of ParentCrit in education.

Article

Critical Race Theory and STEM Education  

Terrell R. Morton

Critical race theory (CRT) is a framework that attends to the prevalence, permanence, and impact of racism embedded within and manifested through the policies, practices, norms, and expectations of U.S. social institutions and how those concepts have differentially impacted the lived experiences of Black and Brown individuals. CRT bore out of the legal studies—complemented by philosophical and sociological fields—and has since been applied to a multitude of disciplines including education. Composed of several tenets or principles, CRT approaches to research, scholarship, and praxis take a structural, systematic, or systemic perspective rather than an individual or isolated perspective. CRT provides scholars and practitioners the ability to acknowledge and challenge structural racism and intersectional forms of oppression as foundational to the perceived and experienced inequities outlined by various constituents. In providing such a perspective, CRT facilitates the opportunity for future ideologies that promote radical and transformative change to systems and structures that perpetuate racial and intersectional-based oppression. STEM education—representing the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from inter- and intradisciplinary perspectives—constitutes the norms, ideologies, beliefs, and practices hallmarked by and within these fields, examined both separately as individual disciplines (e.g., science) and collectively (i.e., STEM). These concepts comprise what is noted as the culture of STEM. Scholarship on STEM education, broadly conceived, discusses the influence and impact of STEM culture across P–20+ education on access, engagement, teaching, and learning. These components are noted through examining student experiences; teachers’ (faculty) engagement, pedagogy, and practice; leadership and administration’s implementation of the aforementioned structures; and the creation and reinforcement of policies that regulate STEM culture. Critical race theoretical approaches to STEM education thus critique how the culture of STEM differentially addresses the needs and desires of various racially minoritized communities in and through STEM disciplines. These critiques are based on the fact that the power to disenfranchise individuals is facilitated by the culture of whiteness embedded within STEM culture, a perspective that is codified and protected by society to favor and privilege White people. CRT in STEM education research tackles the influence and impact of racism and intersectional oppression on racially minoritized individuals in and through STEM by revealing the manifestation and implications of racism and intersectional oppression on racially minoritized individuals’ STEM interactions. CRT in STEM also provides opportunities to reclaim and create space that more appropriately serves racially minoritized individuals through the use of counterstories that center the lived experience of said individuals at the crux of epistemological and ontological understandings, as well as the formation of policies, programs, and other actions. Such conceptions strive to challenge stakeholders within STEM to alter their individual and collective beliefs and perspectives of how and why race is a contending factor for access, engagement, and learning in STEM. These conceptions also strive to challenge stakeholders within STEM to reconfigure STEM structures to redress race-based inequity and oppression.