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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

Histories and Theories in Childhood Studies  

Lisa Farley and Debbie Sonu

Childhood studies is an interdisciplinary area of theory and research comprised of intersecting fields that have evolved since the inception of childhood itself. Despite the pervasiveness of psychological frameworks that predominate early studies of childhood and that continue to dominate within teacher education programs, paradigmatic shifts within childhood studies have opened critical questions about the exclusive social norms, racial privileges, and unequal life chances maintained by the idea of childhood as a biologically determined and universal stage of life. Across a range of perspectives, critical scholarship in childhood studies begins with the idea that childhood is a social and historical construction tied to colonial discourses and ongoing injustices that have material effects on children’s lives. Drawing on the fields of history, sociology, postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis, and educational theory, scholars of childhood show how childhood is inextricably bound to philosophical ideals, political forces, social constructs, and emotional conflicts. In identifying and interrogating the ways that race, class, ability, gender, and sexuality affect and limit meanings of childhood, scholars open new metaphors for rethinking social life, development, belonging, relationality, and existence as such.

Article

Curriculum Studies, Critical Geography, and Critical Spatial Theory  

Robert Helfenbein and Gabriel Huddleston

During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, spatial terms have emerged and proliferated in academic circles, finding application in several disciplines extending beyond formal geography. Critical geography, a theoretical addition to the home discipline of geography as opposed to being a new discipline in itself, has seen application in many other disciplines, mostly represented by what is collectively called social theory (i.e., sociology, cultural studies, political science, and literature). The application of critical spatial theory to educational theory in general, and curriculum theorizing in particular, points to new trajectories for both critical geographers and curriculum theorists. The growth of these two formations have coincided with the changes in the curriculum studies field, especially as it relates to the Reconceptualization of that field during the 1970s. In terms of critical spatial theory especially, the exploration of how we conceptualize place and space differently has allowed curriculum studies scholars to think more expansively about education, schools, pedagogy, and curriculum. More specifically, it has allowed a more fluid understanding of how curriculum is formed and shaped over time by framing the spatial as something beyond a “taken-for-granted” fact of our lives. The combination of spatial theory and curriculum studies has produced a myriad of explorations to see how oppression works in everyday spaces. The hope inherent in this work is that if we can understand how space is (re)produced with inherent inequities, we can produce spaces, especially educative ones, that are more just and equitable.

Article

Racial Violence in the United States  

Darius D. Prier

Since the “discovery” of the so-called New World, The U.S. has carried a history of a violent past. It is a past in which genocide toward Native Americans and enslavement of Black Americans are uncomfortable truths in the annals of history. The racial legacy of such a violent past has its roots in the ideology of White supremacy. This is an ideology in which racialized “others” are cast as subordinate and inferior to persons socially constructed as “White.” It is not just a designation of ideology but can inform discriminatory practices toward communities of color, with even fatal outcomes for this population. Subsequently, racial violence has become an empirical fact of the U.S. social reality. The U.S. legacy of racial violence continues to proliferate in the 21st century, albeit in different forms than genocide and slavery. African American, Latino(a)(x), Jewish, Asian/Pacific Islander, and the LGBTQIA+ communities have been subject to targeted acts of racial violence. In addition, women have been the victims of gender violence. The event that signified White America’s animus toward communities of color came to a crescendo happened when White nationalists went to war against democracy through a violent insurrection on Capitol Hill, January 6, 2021. The documented mass murders toward many of the aforementioned groups and the insurrection on Capitol Hill belie and challenge the notion and ideal of progress toward a “color-blind” society. The resurgence of racial violence since the 2010s has been coupled with many legislators of the nation-state rejecting all forms of anti-racist pedagogy, particularly in K–12 schools. This political movement to cancel discussions of race and racism in schools began with the Trump administration’s executive order to eliminate critical race theory in all areas of the workplace before he left office. While the executive order was rescinded by the Biden administration, several states have passed laws, rejecting any form of anti-racist pedagogy in K–12 schools. Proponents of the rejection of critical race theory argue that groups cannot be marked or stigmatized as morally incompetent or superior to other groups. In addition, they assert that no group should feel discomfort because of their history and that groups should not be discriminated against because of their race. Furthermore, proponents insist education should not be taught in an ideological or political manner. Critics offer that political efforts by far-right ideologues to reject anti-racist pedagogy can hinder students’ understanding of race, violence, and inequality. They also argue that these efforts are unethical, as they silence a critical education, in which students can read of the world of violence as a means to critique issues of racism, discrimination, and inequitable treatment toward communities of color. Debating, critiquing, and responding to racial violence in U.S. society are critical to the maintenance and preservation of democracy. Advocates for social justice education argue that the political is pedagogical, that racial violence toward communities of color requires an ethical and moral interrogation of our values as educators. Therefore, critics of those who decenter anti-racist pedagogy in a culture of racial violence suggest that their claims to a neutral education rest on unethical terms for social justice.

Article

Critical White Studies and Curriculum Theory  

James C. Jupp and Pauli Badenhorst

Critical White studies (CWS) refers to an oppositional and interdisciplinary body of historical, social science, literary, and aesthetic intellectual production that critically examines White people’s individual, collective, social, and historical experiences. CWS reflexively assumes the embeddedness of researcher identities within the research, including the different positionalities of White researchers and researchers of Color within White supremacy writ large as well as whiteness in the social sciences and curriculum theory. As an expression of the historical consciousness shift sparked by anglophone but also francophone African-Atlantic and pan-African intellectuals, CWS emerged within the 20th century’s emancipatory social sciences tied to Global South independence movements and Global North civil rights upheavals. Initiated by cultural studies theorists Stuart Hall and Dick Dyer in the early 80s, CWS has proliferated through two waves. CWS’ first wave (1980–2000) advanced a race-evasive analytical arc with the following ontological and epistemological conceptual-empirical emphases: whiteness as hegemonic normativity, White identity and nation-building, White privilege and property, and White color-blind racism and race evasion. CWS’ second-wave (2000–2020) advanced an anti-essentializing analytical arc with pedagogical conceptual-empirical emphases: White materiality and place, White complexities and relationalities, Whiteness and ethics, and social psychoanalyses in whiteness pedagogies. Always controversial, CWS proliferated as a “hot topic” in social sciences throughout the 90s. Regarding catalytic validity, several CWS concepts entered mass media and popular discussions in 2020 to understand White police violence against Black people—violence of which George Floyd’s murder is emblematic. In curriculum theory, CWS forged two main “in-ways.” In the 1990s, CWS entered the field through Henry Giroux, Joe Kincheloe, Shirley Steinberg, and colleagues who advanced critical whiteness pedagogies. This line of research is differently continued by Tim Lensmire and his colleagues Sam Tanner, Zac Casey, Shannon Macmanimon, Erin Miller, and others. CWS also entered curriculum theory via the field of White teacher identity studies advanced by Sherry Marx and then further synthesized by Jim Jupp, Theodorea Berry, Tim Lensmire, Alisa Leckie, Nolan Cabrera, and Jamie Utt. White teacher identity studies is frequently applied to work on predominantly White teacher education programs. Besides these in-ways, CWS’ conceptual production, especially the notion of “whiteness as hegemonic normativity” or whiteness, disrupted whitened business-as-usual in curriculum theory between 2006 and 2020. Scholars of Color supported by a few White scholars called out curriculum theory’s whiteness and demanded change in a field that centered on race-based epistemologies and indigenous cosmovisions in conferences and journals. CWS might play a role in working through the as-of-yet unresolved conflict over the futurity of curriculum theory as a predominantly White space. A better historicized CWS that takes on questions of coloniality of power, being, and knowledge informed by feminist, decolonial, and psychoanalytic resources provides one possible futurity for CWS in curriculum theory. In this futurity, CWS is relocated as one dimension of a broad array of criticalities within curriculum theory’s critical pedagogies. This relocated CWS might advance psychoanalytically informed whiteness pedagogies that grapple with the overarching question: Can whiteness and White identities be decolonized? This field would include European critical psychoanalytic social sciences along with feminist and decolonial resources to advance a transformative shift in consciousness.

Article

Sensuous Curriculum  

Walter S. Gershon

Education is a sensory experience. This is the case regardless how a sensorium is constructed. A sensorium is how a group defines, categorizes, and conceptualizes the senses, a Western five-senses model for example. Regardless of the sociocultural norms and values a sensorium engenders, animals, human and nonhuman alike, experience their lives through the senses. From this perspective, anything that might be considered educational, regardless of context and irrespective of questions of what might “count” as schooling, is a sensory experience. Sensuous curriculum sits at the intersection of two transdisciplinary fields, curriculum and sensory studies. As its name suggests, sensuous curriculum is an expression of ongoing critical educational studies of, with, and through the senses. In so doing, sensuous curriculum brings to the fore the extraordinary nature of everyday experiences in educational ecologies, from entangled sociocultural norms and values to the ways that sensory input and interpretation inform every aspect of educational ways of being, knowing, and doing. Sensoria have always been tools for understandings, particularly for continually marginalized groups whose claims are often dismissed through Western, Eurocentric framings. For the notion and instantiation of framings require both a set of universally understood constructs and their applications as well as the necessity of the act: when framing, someone or something is always framed. Providing critical tools for the interruption of such constructs and their use, sensuous curriculum is a rich site of study in ways that are theoretically and materially significant, while offering often underutilized trajectories for the exploration of educational understandings.

Article

Critical Digital Pedagogy in the Platform Society  

Earl Aguilera and Christina Salazar

The term “critical digital pedagogy” has been used to describe a broad range of approaches to teaching and learning rooted in critical theory, digital cultural studies, and the liberatory education promoted within schools of critical pedagogy since the 1960s. References to critical digital pedagogy began to appear in published scholarly literature in the early 2000s as a response to the expansion of neoliberal ideologies and policies in an age of proliferating digital and networked technologies. These shifts in technological, economic, and social organization have since become collectively described as the “platformization” of society, driven by processes such as datafication, commodification, and algorithmic selection. In response to concerns about the neoliberalization, dehumanization, and platformization of education specifically, the emergent field of critical digital pedagogy has coalesced into a community of educators, designers, and theorists with an international scope, though the majority of published scholarship originates from the United States and the European Union. While the approaches and methods that the proponents of critical digital pedagogy engage with are varied, three broad families of practice include critical instructional design, humanizing online teaching and learning, and digital ungrading. Following earlier traditions of critical pedagogy, practitioners in the field of critical digital pedagogy find themselves grappling with critiques of their approaches as overly politicized, ideologically driven, and pragmatically limited. Open issues in the field include the expanding role of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the role of political activism beyond the classroom, and the addressing of intersections between race, class, and other dimensions of identity within a critical framework.

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.