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Article

Biographical Approaches in Education  

Belmira Oliveira Bueno

Since the 1980s, in different countries, researchers and educators have put into action a number of studies of teachers’ biographies, teachers’ narratives and stories, as well as other ways of employing life history methods, in order to renew the field of education. A vast literature has been produced in the last decades on this perspective, giving testimony to a surprising growth of the educational area under the impulse of such approaches. There was a clear need for a methodological renewal of this field but also a need of a revision of the functions of school and to the way of conceiving education. The idea of lifelong learning frames this scenario and the expectations outlined in the turn of this century, altering profoundly the functions of school and the ends of education. The biographical approaches are taken as an attempt of meeting such demands. However, the work with life histories and biographies has shown different directions, following from a conjugation of factors and from more specific demands for education present in the respective contexts where such experiences have taken place. Such approaches are part of a broader movement of individualization and subjectivism that characterizes contemporary society. The two perspectives focused on in this article—that of English-speaking countries, with a predominant focus on the life and career of teachers; and those developed in Francophone environments, with the focus on the continued education of adults—have shown great growth particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, giving testimony to the appeal that biographical approaches exerted upon researchers and educators. It presents the features of these two trends preceded by an incursion into the field of sociology aiming at highlighting some relevant methodological and epistemological issues. By this way we intend to emphasize the potentiality of biographical approaches to the knowledge of education, drawing attention to the challenges for individuals’ lives in the contemporary society and for the emergence of new ways of conceiving the subjectivities by the new human and social theories.

Article

The Age of Enlightenment and Education  

Carlota Boto

The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement that took place in Europe in the 18th century, whose main characteristic was criticism. For the Enlightenment theorists, it was assumed that the idea of reason should be the basis of all actions taken in every sphere of social life. The aim of the present study is to investigate the entanglement between Enlightenment and education. In order to do so, we first resort to Kant’s thought. Kant characterizes the Enlightenment as man’s emergence from his own immaturity, defining immaturity as the inability to use one’s own understanding. One can say that the Enlightenment has an intrinsic pedagogical dimension. The enterprise of Diderot’s Encyclopedia consisted of a project that could be regarded as pedagogical, since it aimed at spreading the new breakthroughs of knowledge in all fields to an increasing number of people. The belief of the Enlightenment was that progress in science and technology did not only depend on advances in accumulated knowledge. The achievements of science would also—beyond the new discoveries in the various fields of knowledge—be furthered through the irradiation of that knowledge. The expansion of access to the achievements of science for an increasing number of people was one of the main objectives of the Enlightenment theorists, and particularly of the Encyclopedia. It should be noted that these pedagogical projects were based on the thesis that the schooling of society was a strategy with which to secure and consolidate the path of reason, and to protect it against dogmas and prejudices against it. For this reason, the Enlightenment consisted of organization of the intellectual world, whereby the activity of thought effectively became a struggle in favor of freedom of reasoning and freedom of belief. In the Enlightenment ideas of education as set out in Diderot’s Plan of a University or of a Public Education in All Sciences, written while he was under state guard, one can see how the idea of instruction is linked to the concept of civilization. It was believed that, through education, the nation could be enlightened, and the people would also be better prepared to live as good citizens. In addition, it was believed that school education would give people the opportunity to develop the talents nature had endowed them with. The idea was that allowing everyone to have free access to the instruments of rationality and freedom of judgment would bring about the possibility of a fairer, more egalitarian society in which distinctions between its citizens were based on merit rather than inequalities of fortune. Finally, Condorcet’s proposal for the organization of the public education undoubtedly constitutes the matrix of our contemporary idea of the state school. To develop reason presupposes, from the point of view of the Enlightenment, using the instruments of that reason so it can be expressed. This implied the formation of public opinion, which was, per se, a pedagogical task. Also, and most importantly, this implied the necessity of the creation of schools.

Article

Landscapes of Teacher Education in South African History  

Linda Chisholm

The landscape of history of education has become transformed by approaches that up-end traditional assumptions of the vertical unidirectionality of power, policy, and discourse. These have been displaced by notions of relational comparison and crisscrossing entanglements that draw on Lefebvrian ideas of space and time. These ideas help to provide a sense of how the landscape of education can be understood as both a material and symbolic space, as apprehended, perceived, and lived space, in which social relations are constituted and constitutive of everyday realities. The history of South African education, and specifically its teacher education colleges, exemplifies how landscape can be defined and understood as such spaces. Its history can first be apprehended through different conceptual and historiographical approaches, taken over time, for understanding it. Second, the emergence of specific types of institutions, within colonial political, economic, and social frameworks that defined their physical location and unequal structure in terms of racially segregated and often gender-differentiated spaces, assists in an understanding of these as colonial remnants. The historical landscape of education remains as restructured and reconfigured spaces, in which institutions live on as much in social relations as in memory and in actual, but highly altered physical conditions. As lived spaces, third, historical landscapes of education also embodied learning spatial imaginaries, deeply ambivalent memories of formal and hidden curricula, of formative and shaping years, and as such become landscapes of memory and identity.

Article

The Palestinian K-12 Education System: History, Structure, Challenges, and Opportunities  

Anwar Hussein, Shelley Wong, and Anita Bright

The Palestinian education system in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) reflects a long and complex history of control by other countries: the colonial British Mandate over historic Palestine (1917–1948); the Jordanian government over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (1948–1967); the Egyptian government over the Gaza Strip (1948–1967); and the Israeli occupation (1967–1993). This external control has resulted in multiple forms of apartheid, including restrictions on freedom of movement as a means of control over Palestinian lands and people. Beginning in 1967 at the end of the Six-Day War, the Israeli government took control of Palestinian educational systems, controlling the entire educational experience of Palestinian students, including curriculum, construction, and maintenance of schools, and employment of educators. In 1993, after the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority took charge of the Palestinian education system. Although with the development of the first Palestinian curriculum, the Palestinian Authority has made many innovative breakthroughs in education, they are severely restricted by the Israeli occupation. They do not have the right to build or renovate schools (or other buildings) without Israeli building permits. The current apartheid system is a multifaceted economic blockade, with walls, checkpoints, and armed military guards denying Palestinian students and teachers access to a range of essential services, such as education and healthcare. All of these restrictions of movement and encroachments by the Israeli government and military represent violations of the United Nations human rights conventions. Given its history, the Palestinian educational system faces many challenges, including the marginalized status of the teaching profession, the quality of teacher education programs, implementation of the education strategic plan, and others. Despite the numerous systemic challenges and obstacles under occupation, Palestinian educators continue to demonstrate tremendous tenacity, creativity, innovation, and optimism.

Article

Indigenous Education in Canada  

Jo-ann Archibald – Q’um Q’um Xiiem

Canadian Indigenous education includes education for Indigenous learners at all levels and ages and learning about Indigenous peoples’ history, cultures/knowledges, and languages for all learners in educational systems. In Canada, the journey of Indigenous people toward self-determination for Indigenous education continues to be a key challenge for government, policy makers, and Indigenous organizations. Self-determination approaches are not new. They originated in traditional forms of education that were created by and for Indigenous peoples. These authentic Indigenous approaches were disrupted by colonial educational policies enacted by state (federal government) and church that separated Indigenous children from their families and communities through boarding and Indian residential schools for over 100 years. Generations of Indigenous people were negatively impacted by these colonial educational policies and legislation, which contributed to lower educational levels among Indigenous peoples compared to non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. In response, Indigenous peoples have resisted assimilationist attempts by organizing politically, engaging in national research and commissions, and developing educational organizations to regain and revitalize self-determining approaches to Indigenous education. Indigenous peoples have played significant decision-making roles through the following national policies, research, and commissions that created opportunities for educational change: the 1972 Indian Control of Indian Education Policy; the 1991–1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples; and the 2008–2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. A prevalent discourse in Canadian education specifically and Canadian society generally is about reconciliation. For Indigenous peoples, reconciliation cannot happen until educational systems ensure that Indigenous peoples have a central role in making policy and programmatic decisions, and that Indigenous knowledge systems are placed respectfully and responsibly in education at all levels. Another common discourse is about Indigenizing the Academy or Indigenizing education, which also cannot occur without Indigenous people’s direct involvement in key decision-making approaches. The Indigenous educational landscape in Canada is showing signs of slow but steady growth through Indigenous self-determination and Indigenous knowledge approaches to teaching, learning, and research.

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.

Article

Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada  

Lisa Johnston, Leah Shoemaker, Nicole Land, Aurelia Di Santo, and Susan Jagger

The field of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Canada has been informed by a myriad of influences and these factors continue to shift and shape the curriculum, pedagogy, research, and practice in Canadian ECEC. Historically, following many of the theories and practices embraced by the United States, early child-care centers, day nurseries, and kindergartens were established to alleviate pressures on overcrowded schools and allow for mothers to work outside of the home. At the same time, Canadian child care took on a broader role in social welfare and later social justice, working to reduce inequities and inequality. These motivations have not been shared across all ECEC, and this is particularly evident in Indigenous early education. Here, Indigenous children and families have endured the horror of the residential school system and its legacy of colonialism, trauma, and cultural genocide. Along with these underpinning histories, Canadian ECEC has been informed by, is continuing to be shaped by, and is beginning to be guided by a number of models and movements in early learning. These include developmentalism, child-centered pedagogies, Reggio Emilia approaches, children’s rights, holistic education, the reconceptualist movement, and postdevelopmentalism, and many of these approaches are not mutually exclusive. Finally, the policies and practices at federal, provincial, and municipal levels and the unique tensions between these levels of government structure Canadian ECEC policy and practice. Provincial and Indigenous early learning frameworks are created to enhance educator understandings and application of program principles, values, and goals, and these embrace responsive relationships with children and families, reflective practice, the importance of the environment and play in learning, and respect of diversity, equity, and inclusion, to name but a few shared principles. Taken together, the complexity of ECEC in Canada is clear, with historical approaches and attitudes continuing to preserve structures that devalue children and those who work with them, while concurrently efforts continue to honor the rights and voices of all children, advocate for professionalization in the field of ECEC, and reveal and reconcile past and current truths and injustices in Indigenous children’s education and care, in order to support and heal all children, families, and communities.