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Interdisciplinary Expansion and the History of Education in Sweden  

Johannes Westberg

The field of the history of education in Sweden has distinct features, yet also shares common characteristics with the history of education in other countries. As elsewhere, it has developed from being a field mainly occupied by schoolmen in the early 20th century to a research field firmly entrenched in the humanities and social sciences from the 1960s and onward. Like in other countries, the topics and theoretical frameworks have multiplied, making the history of education into a broad field of research. There are, however, several features that stand out in an international context. Most important, the history of education in Sweden has expanded in terms of active researchers and output since the early 2000s due to the favorable conditions in Swedish higher education presented in this article. It has also never developed into a discipline of its own but instead has remained multidisciplinary, with a strong base in the disciplines of education and history. As a result, the history of education in Sweden has remained quite independent from the international field. While it is certainly possible to identify the impact of various international trends, including those of the new cultural history of education, the history of education in Sweden is marked by the disciplines that it is part of. From this follows that this national field is less determined by international associations, conferences and journals, and the so-called turns that one might identify in these. Instead, it is the Swedish context of educational research, Swedish curriculum theory, social history, economic history, history education, sociology of education, and child studies that provide the history of education in Sweden with a character of its own—that is, a field with research groups, conferences, workshops, and a journal that encompasses several research fields.

Article

A Chronology of Curriculum Questions  

William H. Schubert

Curriculum studies can be characterized by dominant questions asked by those who have participated in the field over the years. Most of the questions that have dominated inquiry and praxis are variations on the central curriculum question: What is worthwhile? In the mid-19th century, the focus was on what knowledge was deemed most worthwhile, especially for elementary and secondary education, as nations began to take charge of what was taught and learned in schools. Most of the questions that characterize curriculum history continued to be debated and studied throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. Arguments ensued about how developmental appropriateness, school and nonschool experience, and science or efficiency contributed to an understanding of what is worthwhile. Curriculum scholars and curriculum workers continue to address how to meet individual and social interests and needs and how curriculum of education should improve society. Curriculum studies offers guiding questions for studying, reflecting on, developing, or enacting curriculum derived from publications of curriculum scholars and policy makers. After the middle of the 20th century, many of the previously established questions were challenged by new generations of curriculum scholars who criticized the dominance of powerful political, racial, gender, and cultural groups in determining what should be taught and learned in schools; that is, the sources of what human beings should be and become. They questioned the capability of schools as institutions of nations that have become corporate states to guide this task for the benefit of all. Critiques have continued to proliferate regarding who benefits and who is harmed by questions that guide curriculum scholarship, policy, and practice in schools and all other societal institutions and relationships that educate. Much discrimination has been identified that provides markedly less educational benefit to those who are not part of the majority culture. The interests of wealthy White males are often privileged, and the needs of racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, those who have disabilities, and those who are otherwise different are harmed. Moreover, the purposes of education in schooling seem to be to advance the benefits accorded to powerful and privileged groups. To understand this situation, curriculum scholars have drawn upon questions derived from critical theory and cultural studies. Curriculum studies literature also offers ideas for creating curricula that benefit more of humanity throughout the world, as well as seeking insights from many different world cultures, including indigenous and grassroots ones. A larger question deals with the extent to which humans are able to construct educational opportunities wherein all are educated in worthwhile ways. Struggles over meanings of “worthwhile” continue to resound throughout curriculum studies scholarship and its influence on educational policy and practice and concomitant impacts on the world.

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

Drama in Education and Applied Theater, from Morality and Socialization to Play and Postcolonialism  

Kathleen Gallagher, Nancy Cardwell, Rachel Rhoades, and Sherry Bie

The field of drama education and applied theater is best understood through a consideration of the major developments and aspirations that have shaped its trajectory over three historical periods: the latter years of the 19th century up until 1960, between 1960 and 1990, and the years encompassing the turn of the 21st century, 1990–2015, which was a decidedly more globalized epoch. The drama education/applied theater scholarship of the English-speaking world, including the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and North America, offers a fascinating distillation of the relationship between making drama and learning, including the history of alternative forms of education. Scholarship from Asia drawing on traditional forms of theater-making, as well as imported and adapted structures of Western drama education movements, speak to hybrid and ever-expanding practices across the globe. Although young as a discipline within the academy, drama education/applied theater has all but made up for its relative immaturity by spanning a wide domain of multidisciplinary thinking, embracing an eclectic theoretical field that covers an enormous breadth of social issues and a vast range of learning theories, while straddling a compelling spectrum of political positions. The development of the field is infused with pioneering ideas that broke with entrenched historical traditions and habitual ways of learning, harkening toward new ways of thinking, being, relating, and creating. Taking the world as its source material and humanity as its target audience, the history of the progressive discipline of drama education/applied theater tells the story of an ambitious, flawed, idealized, politicized, divisive, and deeply humanistic scholarly and practice-driven field.