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Study Circles  

Staffan Larsson

The study circle is a “free and voluntary” pedagogy that has become a mass phenomenon in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. It was initiated within the popular movements in the first years of the 1900s as a tool for education among their members. Around 10 adults typically meet a few hours a week to develop their interests, for example, in art, political topics, music, or foreign language. The “study circle grammar” includes voluntary participation, an extremely wide span of topics to be studied, no requirements of a teacher, and no entrance qualifications, grades, or exams. Tradition stresses deliberations among participants, but practical topics often have a workshop pedagogy. They have received subsidies from the state and from municipalities through various organizational structures depending on country since the early 1900s. They grew and spread fast, reaching a peak in participation in the late 1900s, but have since stagnated; however, a substantial share of adults in Nordic countries continue to engage in them.

Article

Oral History Illustrated by the Case of Cyprus  

Nicoletta (Niki) Christodoulou, Miranda Christou, and Maria Hadjipavlou

Oral history offers unique meaning for curriculum studies by presenting, analyzing, and interpreting experiences and memories of participants in an educational situation. The situation and context of Cyprus, an island with protracted conflicts and ethnical division, provides sites of illustration for oral history in curriculum studies. Couched in an historical background of oral history and definitions, as well as characteristics that distinguish it from other forms of narrative inquiry, the essence and application of oral history can be conveyed through the case of Cyprus. Oral history projects undertaken in Cyprus are conveyed, with prominent reference to the Cyprus Oral History Project (COHP), which has delineated the nuances of language, performance, and creation of pedagogical spaces. For example, COHP established a link among oral history, curriculum, instruction, and education, which has been used in Cyprus to understand memory as curriculum and to rethink issues of language and curricular questions in light of the knowledge drawn from oral histories. Further, oral history projects in Cyprus have delineated refugee trauma through the description of loss, painful memories, and silence; how narratives worked as significant evidence and material in conflict and reconciliation workshops; and the importance of the gender lens of oral history in Cyprus. The themes of cultivating historical consciousness, shaping responses to conflict, discomforting pedagogy, memory and trauma, and their role in the reunification process have been explored extensively through such projects; yet, more extensive work needs to be done. The number of oral history projects is still limited, yet there is still so much to be uncovered through people’s narrations. In the case of Cyprus, oral history is considered as a source of information about ordinary people’s lives but also for the role it can play in understanding how being dispossessed and returning to the homeland can reconstruct and reorganize education and culture. The uses of oral history to understand curriculum in Cyprus is offered as an example for modified use for exploring a broader sphere of curriculum studies in other settings.

Article

Homeschooling in the United States: Growth With Diversity and More Empirical Evidence  

Brian D. Ray

Homeschooling (home education) is parent-directed, family-based education, and is typically not tax-funded, with parents choosing assistance from other individuals or organizations. Home-based education was nearly extinct in the United States by the 1970s but grew rapidly during the 1990s to about 2.6 million K–12 homeschool students in March of 2020 to then about 5 million in March of 2021. The demographic variety among homeschooling families rapidly increased during the 2000s to the point that in 2016, 41% of homeschool students were of ethnic minority background, with about 79% of those living in nonpoor households, and with parents’ formal education levels similar to national averages. Since the early 2000s, parents’ main reasons for homeschooling have shifted from an emphasis on religious or moral instruction to a somewhat more emphasis on concern about institutional school environments and the academic instruction in schools. Empirical research shows that the home educated, on average, perform above average in terms of academic achievement, social and emotional development, and success into adulthood (including college studies). However, there is scholarly debate about whether enough well-controlled studies have confirmed these overall benefits. Some theories have been proposed to explain the apparent positive effects. They include the concept that elements such as high levels of parental involvement, one-on-one instruction, low student-to-teacher ratios, effective use of time, more academic learning time, customization of learning experiences, and a safe and comfortable learning environment that are systemically a part of home-based education are conducive to children thriving in many ways. However, more research is needed to test these theories.