Discussions surrounding the rights, desires, and subjectivities of queer youth in education have a history marked by both controversy and optimism. Many researchers, practitioners, and teachers who critically examine the role of education in the lives of queer youth insist that the youth themselves should be involved in setting the terms of debate surrounding if and how they should be included in sites of education. This is important because the ways in which their needs and subjectivities are conceptualized have a direct impact on the futures that queer youth imagine for themselves and for others. For example, the furious and impassioned debates about sex education in schooling are also to do with the amount of empathy we have for queer youth. Thus, sex education is a frequent point of analysis in literature on queer youth in education. Literature on queer youth and education also helpfully demonstrates how racialization, gender, neoliberalism, and settler-colonialism permeate discourses of queer inclusion and constitute the conditions of both acceptance and oppression for queer youth. While queer studies has at times sharpened perceptions of queer youth’s subjective and systemic experiences in education, it cannot be collapsed into a unified theory of sexuality because it too is ripe with debate, variation, and contradiction. As many scholars and intellectual traditions make clear, the global and transnational dimensions of gender and sexuality cannot be subsumed into a unified taxonomy of desire or subject formation. More ethical interactions between teachers, peers, and queer youth are needed because our theories of queer desire and the discourses we attach to them evince material realities for queer youth. Despite the often prevailing insistence that queer youth belong in educational institutions, homophobia and heteronormativity continue to make inclusion a complicated landscape. In recognition of these dynamics, literature in the field of educational studies also insists that some queer youth find hope in education. Withdrawing advocacy and representation for queer, trans, and nonbinary youth in educational settings becomes dangerous when it creates a terrain for isolation and shame. Importantly, queer theory and LGBTQ studies have conceptualized the needs of queer youth in ways that emphasize education as a space wrought with emotion, power, and desire. Early theorizing of non-normative sexual desire continues to set the stage for contemporary discussions of schools as spaces of power and repression. That is, histories of activism, knowledge, and policy construction have made the present conditions of both inclusion and exclusion for queer youth. Contemporary debates about belonging and marginalization in schools are made from the residues and endurance of earlier formations of gender and race.
Queer Youth and Education
Trust in Schooling System Governance and Reform
Since the 1980s there has been significant reform in the development, delivery, and evaluation of all areas of public policy and services provision, including schooling. The reforms are prompted by a general “turn” from direct government determination and provision of public services to indirect governance undertaken by a mixture of public, private, and philanthropic actors. Orthodoxies about public sector governance and schooling system reform have shifted over this time from a preference for bureaucracy to preferences for markets, contracts, and most recently social networks. Schooling system governance in many Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries has seen devolution of substantial statutory powers, responsibilities, and accountabilities to local parent communities or shared-interest coalitions, both for-profit and not-for-profit. Schooling policy, governance, and services provision work is now distributed across multiple state, parastatal, and nongovernmental actors. Trust in the actions of others within devolved and distributed systems is identified as an essential social lubricant of contemporary schooling governance and reform. Studies of the role played by trust in schooling systems remain relatively rare.
Gender and School Reform in India
Nandini Manjrekar and Indumathi Sundararaman
Policy discourses on education in all countries are historically shaped by a range of regional, national, and global factors and dynamics. In the Indian context, ideological and structural contexts have influenced the policy visions and practices of gender and schooling, particularly in relation to the education of girls. Mapping historical shifts over the colonial and post-colonial periods up to the present, the early 21st century, reveals the intersections of ideologies and structures associated with both gender as a social category and education as a state project. Such a discursive cartography reveals certain key moments that point to how these intersections have impacted practices and processes within school education. From the early 2000s, the intensification of neoliberal economic reforms has been marked by an ideological shift that sees education as a private good and the operation of discourses of school choice. The ascendance of majoritarian nationalism and its presence in state power has also seen an undermining of the gains in women’s education. At the same time, India passed a historic legislation, the Right to Education Act (2009), making education a fundamental right of all children. These somewhat contradictory and competing discourses and practices have had critical implications for the education of children of marginalized communities like the lower and former untouchable castes (Dalits), marginalized ethnicities like the Indigenous communities (Adivasis), and a marginalized religious minority community (Muslims). Within an intersectional perspective, it emerges that girls belonging to these communities face the greatest challenges in accessing and participating fully in schooling, even as recent policy initiatives are silent on many of the critical issues relating to promoting gender equality within the education system as a whole.
Spirituality and Education in the United States
Roland W. Mitchell, Nicholas E. Mitchell, and Chaunda A. Mitchell
Spirituality and education have historically been tightly intertwined concepts. Spirituality is the timeless pursuit by humanity for certainty, understanding, and an abiding connection to each other and the cosmos. Education represents humanity’s efforts at grouping practices, insights, and often contested knowledges in such a manner that they are passed across generations, groups, and communities. The combination of the two reflects humanity’s pursuit at making sense out of the environment.
Educational biopolitics is a growing field of study that explores the intersections of education, life, and power. A central question this literature has formed is a powerful, albeit familiar one: what types of life do schools validate, and what types of life do schools attempt to negate? Given this focus, the concept of educational life has emerged as one of the key units of analysis that informs inquiries in this field. There are two predominant modes of engagement that characterize studies in educational biopolitics: (a) analytical endeavors that seek to understand the operation of contemporary logics of biopower (a power over life) in schools and (b) affirmative educational endeavors that seek to highlight the potential of life to create power. Each approach begins with an understanding that schools do more than transmit knowledge; they are sites of struggle over the production, reproduction, and management of subjectivity. These approaches have led to unique inquiries that explore a number of tangentially related themes and make use of various concepts, including disposability, extractive schooling, and the common.
Gender, Sexuality, Adolescence, and Identity in Schooling
Marnina Gonick and Judith Conrads
Gender and sexuality are key aspects of identity that intersect with other social categories such as race, class, ethnicity, and ability to shape life experiences. While these forces are at work throughout one’s lifetime, adolescence is a particularly important time of discovery, negotiation, and resistance. Most young people in Western countries spend an enormous amount of time in schools, grouped together by age with others from their communities, including teachers and other school personnel. Schools are, therefore, important sites of sociality where young people are faced with the social and power dynamics of belonging, inclusion, and exclusion. The forms these processes take include forming friendships and romantic relationships as well as bullying and violence. Gender and sexuality are central to how these dynamics play out. Young people who do not conform to dominant binary versions of gendered expressions of femininity and masculinity as well as heterosexuality often encounter barriers to inclusion and recognition. Social relations among youth are central, but school curriculum, policies, teacher-student interactions, and how schools are physically organized all contribute to the shape that gender and sexuality will take in a particular context or location. Beyond the official curriculum, schools are sites where an unofficial curriculum of the body, gender performance, and gendered and sexed relations is learned through interactions with others and through encounters with powerful regimes of normativity. Young people are social agents who are actively involved in negotiating their gendered and sexed identities. However, they do so within the constraints of the discourses available to them to make meaning of their experience.
School Reform and Parental Engagement Learning in the United Kingdom
Parental engagement in children and young people’s learning has been shown to be an important lever for school improvement and young people’s outcomes. However, parents are rarely involved in school reform movements. These reform movements are generally centered on the school rather than on improvement of learning per se. Shifting the focus away from the school and to learning as an overarching aim requires the inclusion of and partnership with parents. This is a new way of understanding school reform but has the best chance of supporting all students, including those not best served by the schooling systems in the early 21st century. The reforms here are chiefly concerned with U.K. schooling systems, but could be more widely applicable, and call on a wide range of evidence, from the United Kingdom and beyond.
Black Girls and Mathematics Learning
Crystal Morton, Danielle Tate McMillan, and Winterbourne Harrison-Jones
Though the formal and informal mathematics learning experiences of Black girls are gaining more visibility in the literature, there is still a paucity of research around Black girls’ mathematics learning experiences. Black girls face unique challenges as learners in K–12 educational spaces because of their marginalized racial and gender identities. The interplay of race and racism unfolds in complex ways in Black girls’ learning experiences. This interplay hinders their development as mathematics learners and limits their access to transformative learning. As early as elementary school, Black girls are labeled as having limited mathematics knowledge and are often disproportionately placed in “lower level classrooms” devoid of any rigorous and transformative learning experiences. Teachers spend more time socially correcting Black girls rather than building on their brilliance. Even though Black girls value mathematics more and have higher confidence in mathematics than their White counterparts, they are still held to lower expectations by their teachers and are less likely to complete an advanced mathematics course. Nationally and globally, mathematics serves as an academic gatekeeper into every avenue of the labor market and higher education opportunities. Thus, the lack of opportunities Black girls have to engage in rigorous and transformative mathematics potentially locks them out of higher education opportunities and STEM-based careers. The mathematics learning experiences of Black girls move beyond challenges in K–12 spaces to limiting life choices and individual and community progress. To improve the formal and informal mathematics learning experiences of Black girls, we must understand their unique learning experiences more fully.
Student Voice, Inequalities, and Class
Rachel Finneran, Eve Mayes, and Rosalyn Black
It is well-understood that systems of education tend to disproportionately benefit already advantaged social groups. Students have been positioned in recent reform efforts as agents with the right to be involved in decision-making on an increasing range of issues related to their education, in practices commonly termed “student voice” in policy, practice, and research. Student voice has been argued to be a mechanism to intervene in educational inequalities and a means to enhance students’ choices at school. Student voice is frequently represented as a neutral proposition: that is, that students’ involvement in decision-making will directly benefit both the school and the students themselves. This apparently neutral proposition elides how, in practice, some students may benefit from experiences of “student voice” more than others. Critiques of student voice, as well as contemporary calls for a return to class analysis in education, compel attention to the potential ways that student voice practices can aggravate existing inequalities. Classed dynamics contour even well-intentioned attempts to intervene in educational inequalities. The dynamic experience of class has shifted in relation to student voice across contexts and over time, particularly in individualistic, market-driven educational systems structured by the rhetoric of “choice.” Further research into the shifting nature of class in relation to student voice may include longitudinal processes of “studying up” to understand how student voice can be mobilized to cultivate educational advantage and distinction in class-privileged schooling contexts. What is also needed is a renewed uptake of the concept of class consciousness in student-voice practice—that is, beyond voice as a strategy to personalize individual students’ learning and toward enactments of student voice as collective work—if student voice is to disrupt the reproduction of structural inequalities through schooling.
Family and Home Literacy Across Time
In 1982, Denny Taylor coined the term “family literacy” to reference the ways young children and their parents interact around texts. Since then, the term family literacy has generally been applied to the practices that occur in homes to support young children as they become readers and writers. However, 30 years later, this definition negates the full scope of possibilities that might inform our understandings of the literacy practices that occur within home spaces and among family members. These possibilities reflect two important trends increasingly recognized within literacy research communities. First, technological advances have affected the ways people read and write and the multimodal literacy practices that have come to define literacy in families and homes. These developments are often the focus of New Literacy Studies as defined by the New London Group and others. Second, while generally not addressed in terms of family literacy, a substantial and growing body of research has documented the out-of-school literacy practices of adolescents and youth. Many of these literacy practices are enacted and displayed in home settings. While connections between out-of-school literacy practices and family literacy are generally not explicit, homes and families provide significant social contexts that are critical to engaging in technological, peer-informed, and popular culture practices. In short, family literacy does not end once children learn to read. In contrast, family literacy assumes new forms and involves new modalities that both echo and extend the literacy practices found within families. This is significant, as it challenges conceptions of adolescent and youth literacy as being separate from the literacy practices of families. To extend what is meant by family literacy, it is redefined as more than traditional activities that involve young children with texts. Instead, researchers are challenged to consider the full range of literacy practices that occur among family members and within homes across time. In doing this, family literacy and new literacy studies are brought together. Thus, the term family/home literacy is used to recognize not only the literacy practices that are enacted between children and parents, but the full range of literacy practices that occur among all family members—including siblings, extended family members, and friends. In short, family/home literacy practices are intertwined with home literacy affordances, which include the texts, opportunities, and technological resources that are available and used in homes. In order to explore family/home literacies over time, children’s literacy practices, including traditional and technological family/home literacy practices, are explored. Issues raised include parental mentoring of school-age children as they encounter new technologies at home, the adaptation of available resources by children as they move into and through adolescence, and transactions involving texts (both traditional and digital) among adolescents, young adults, and their parents.
Elite and Private Education
Catherine Doherty and Megan Pozzi
While meritocratic ideals assume a level playing field for educational competition, those who can may seek to tilt the field in their children’s favor to ensure better educational opportunities and the associated life rewards. A growing body of literature is researching “up” to better understand how advantage for some through the choice of elite or private schooling contributes to the relative disadvantage of others. Institutional claims to offering an “elite” education can rest on different logics such as social selectivity by dint of high fees or academic selectivity by dint of enrollments conditional on academic excellence. Private education provided by a non-government entity serves as an alternative to public sector provision for those who can afford it. The global spread of neoliberal metapolicy has fanned a general trend towards privatization. Such logics of social restriction can distinguish the whole school, niche programs of distinction within a school, or tracking practices that pool advantage in particular classes or subjects. While education policy debates wrestle with how to articulate competing ethics of excellence, inclusivity, and equity, elite branding unapologetically resolves these tensions by conflating excellence and exclusivity. To achieve and sustain elite status, however, relies on the extra work of carefully curating reputations and protecting the brand. Recent research has started to ask more difficult questions of educational privilege. Such research helps to understand: the curricular processes and nature of privilege achieved through elite and private educational choices; how such education harnesses the semblance of meritocratic competition to legitimate its forms of distinction; and the broader impact of these processes.
Relations, Aliveness, Love: Curriculum in the Spirit of the Earth
Jodi Latremouille, Lesley Tait, and David W. Jardine
Images and practices of relations, aliveness, and love provide a way to reconcile knowledge and its schooled pursuit with the wisdom required in our current, ecologically desperate times. This desperation is rooted, in part, in threads of the efficiency movement that were inherited by education in the early 1900s and left schools with a curriculum legacy that has become exhausted and counterproductive. This inheritance can be countered with ideas from the traditions of hermeneutics and ecological thought. But they are also countered with life-affirming and life-sustaining Cree ideas: wahkohtowin, wicihitowin, and sakihitowin. Practicing these ideas can help align work inside and outside schools with the characteristic spirit (ethos) of our earthly being, and can provide the grounds for a pointed critique of, and alternative to, the regnant regimes of contemporary schooling. wahkohtowin means, briefly put, “all things are related/all things are our relations” and wicihitowin refers to “the life-giving energy that is generated when people face each other as relatives and build trusting relationships by connecting with others in respectful ways.” sakihitowin means “love.” Reimagining curriculum as constituted by living fields of relations while also considering not only the energeia, the “aliveness” that is generated in the face-to-face care of and learning the ways of such living fields, but also the deep affection that is both needed for and produced by such reimagining, increases the prospects of our ecological future and the future of the more-than-human world.
Critical Gender Geographies
Critical geography, as it is studied in North America and parts of Europe, has been growing since the 1970s. However, focusing on gender, sexual orientation, race, home language, or the like, was not a primary concern of the field until the mid-1980s. As radical critical geography shifted toward cultural and critical geography, marginalized voices could be heard in and across the field in local and less-local contexts. As critical geography began to intersect with education in the mid-1990s, it became a tool for studying marginalization across layers of scale. Fields of geography are impacted as much by contemporary sociopolitical dialogues as they are by educational research and its related historical boundaries and borders. Finally, it is significant to consider what a critical gender-queer geography might mean as the field continues to grow.
Gender and Sexuality in Taiwan Schools
Lien Fan Shen
Issues of sexuality and gender equity in schools are often entangled with education reforms in Taiwan. Since 1949, when martial law was enacted by the Chinese Nationalist Party, schools had exercised disciplinary power over and exhibited forms of gendered oppression on students’ gender and sexuality. Since martial law was lifted in 1987, Taiwan has undergone several educational reforms. Taiwan’s education system was criticized for its focus on standardization, memorization, and lack of creativity, thus reformers pushed a more holistic approach, and gender equity education was included through the implementation of the Gender Equity Education Act in 2004. In general, gender equity education reforms were catalyzed by a series of social events, including two honor students’ suicide; students’ protesting a hair ban (how it is referred to in Taiwan) and gender-specific uniforms; a gender-nonconforming boy’s accidental death on campus; and anti-LGBTQ cases in a 2018 referendum to eliminate gender equity education in schools. These events exemplified the complexity of discursive practices that encompass struggles of gender and sexual minority individuals in schools, negotiations between the legislative process and public opinion, and media attention on and representation of adolescent gender and sexuality in Taiwan. Taiwan’s movements and progression of gender equity education may be seen as a magnifier through which issues of gender and sexuality are revealed not only in schools but also in society at large.
Immigrant Teachers in Israel as Newcomers and Educators (1949–1966)
Most research on education and the migration question assumes that schools function as the social agents of the host society. Teachers are supposed to disseminate their society’s dominant norms to influence future generations. Ever since the implementation of compulsory education laws, teachers have been asked to function as social agents of two major processes: nation-building and the integration of new immigrants. An interesting situation arises when the teachers are newcomers, as was the case during the nearly two decades of compulsory education law in Israel (1949–1966). Immigrant teachers comprised more than a fifth of the teachers during the 1950s. They worked in an educational system where over two-fifths of the students were immigrants who had arrived during the mass migration. Due to the need to address the shortage of teachers, the Ministry of Education lowered the professional standards and employed a lower proportion of certified teachers. The teachers’ training program was drastically shortened, and its level of standards was reduced to crash courses, which the Ministry of Education initiated in the early 1950s, as it was necessary to recruit many teachers in a short time. The entry of immigrants into the ranks of teachers slowed down the process of feminization in primary education for a few years because the male share among the immigrant teachers was almost twice that of old-time teachers already there. The teaching profession assisted the immigrants in improving their economic status compared to their immigrant colleagues. The immigrant teachers were placed in a unique situation. On the one hand, they were newcomers who struggled with the difficulties of integration, while on the other hand, they were supposed to serve—as did their colleagues—as representatives of the state. Many studies have shown the cultural conflict between society and immigrant students through the curricula. In the Israeli case, some of the immigrant teachers shared this conflict too. The immigrant teachers had to deal with the experiences of immigrating, just like other immigrants, while teaching in a language that was not their mother tongue, as many were not fluent in Hebrew. The lack of social workers and consultants resulted in many immigrant teachers working as social workers. These teachers had to impart knowledge and provide support for their students’ families. One way to understand the immigrant teachers’ activities is by applying the analytical tool of teacher empowerment. This empowerment, the appreciation of their functioning by their surroundings, in some way compensated for their difficulties. The research argues that the teaching profession was a key element in the social mobility of immigrant teachers and enabled them to become a part of the host society.
Indigenous Education and Decolonization
Yvonne Poitras Pratt, Dustin W. Louie, Aubrey Jean Hanson, and Jacqueline Ottmann
The need to decolonize and Indigenize education stems from shared experiences of colonialism across the globe. In a world divided by ongoing conflict, and fueled by issues of power and control, the need to closely examine the ways that education has served hegemonic interests will help to inform future educational initiatives as well as serve as a form of reparation for those Indigenous peoples who have endured the dire consequences of colonialism. Present-day efforts to reclaim, restore, and revitalize threatened traditions are supported by international bodies such as the United Nations, in tandem with a range of approaches at national levels. Decolonizing education entails identifying how colonization has impacted education and working to unsettle colonial structures, systems, and dynamics in educational contexts. We use the term education in these descriptions broadly to name the sociocultural task of understanding ways of knowing and being (epistemological and ontological systems) and the ongoing formation and transmission of knowledges: for instance, we mean both formal education as structured through Western schooling and other forms of education such as those traditionally practiced within Indigenous families and communities. Decolonizing education fits within larger understandings of decolonization and Indigenization at socio-political levels. However, these undertakings address in particular the colonization of the mind, of knowledge, language, and culture, and the impacts of colonization at personal and collective levels of physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, and intellectual experience. In this time of transition, the work of decolonizing schooling necessarily precedes that of Indigenizing education for most educators and learners; yet, in keeping with Indigenous knowledge traditions, education must remain in a state of flux as we come to know this work collectively.
Martin Mills and Glenda McGregor
Alternative schooling has a long history. However, defining alternative schooling is difficult because it necessitates an answer to the question: “alternative to what?” It suggests that there is an accepted schooling archetype from which to differentiate. However, just what that model might be is likely to vary over time and place. In one perspective, alternative schools challenge what Tyack and Tobin, in 1994, referred to as the traditional grammar of schooling as it pertains to conventional forms of schooling developed in Western societies since the Industrial Revolution. Alternative schools challenge the taken-for-granted grammar of schooling variously through their organization, governance structures, curriculum, pedagogy, type of students, and/or particular philosophy. Certain types of alternative schools, including democratic schools, developmental and holistic alternative schools (e.g., Montessori and Waldorf/Steiner), and flexi schools, might offer lessons to the educational mainstream on how to be more inclusive and socially just. However, there are also ways in which they can work against such principles.
Homeschooling in the United States
The number of homeschooling families in the United States has been growing at a steady rate since the early 1990s. Attempts to make sense of homeschooling—including research—are inherently political. These attempts are, therefore, highly contested. It is impossible to provide an agreed-upon definition of homeschooling, much less a precise number of families that homeschool, why they homeschool, or what the learning outcomes of that homeschooling might entail. Instead, homeschooling is best understood as a set of educative practices that exists in and between institutional schooling and family life. As families and schools evolve and change, so will the meaning and significance of homeschooling.
Gender, Girls, and Schooling
The schooling of girls has, across different times and places, often been a matter of heated public debate. From the 1800s to the present, contentious issues such as the purpose of girls’ education, curriculum content, and the meanings given to girls’ bodies within educational sites have led to varying discussions, opinions, and policies. At the center of these debates are the questions of how gender is understood; how it is used in a given place and time in the division of labor, the economy, and the family; and how it is assumed that young girls and women should be instructed for eventually taking up the positions deemed appropriate for their time and place. It is impossible, however, to simply talk about girls’ schooling as if this refers to a singular group of people. Differences in class, race, ethnicity, region, citizenship, sexuality, and other characteristics shape both the contours of the debate and the experience of schooling. Thus, any discussion of the issue of gender, girls, and schooling needs to take an intersectional approach—one that takes into consideration the ways in which identity categories work together within and across differences to produce experience, identity, and meaning. Currently, the question of girls’ education finds its strongest articulation in relation to the Global South. International organizations and major corporations alike have used their platforms to advance the cause of educating girls in the interests of national and global development. This has proved to have consequences that do not always take into account the complexity of girls’ lives in their local contexts. Issues of gendered inequalities in the Global North are sometimes mistakenly assumed to have been resolved, things of the past. However, girls in schools continue to face issues such as sexual harassment, cyberbullying, and discrimination. As a result, their issues are often misunderstood or marginalized within school communities.
Durell M. Callier and Dominique C. Hill
Performance ethnography invokes both familiar and strange recollections regarding a set of practices, methodological innovations, and epistemic orientations and challenges. This is particularly true when considering the ways performance, ethnography, and education intersect. Delving into the pedagogy, politics, and possibilities of performance ethnography in qualitative educational research, this article highlights the implications, deployments of, and engagements with the methodology in the field. To do so, key definitional offerings of performance, ethnography, and education are provided, enactments of performance ethnography within educational research, contexts, and applications are examined, and the “politics of doing” as a tool in performance ethnography is proposed. Upholding the contested nature of performance studies, this article outlines the utility of bridging performance, pedagogy, and education to foster new possibilities for teacher-student dynamics, the facilitation and understanding of embodied knowledges inside and outside schooling contexts, as well as how educational research can be conceptualized.