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Article

Kurt Stemhagen and Tamara Sober

There are a variety of ways in which teachers engage in activism. Teachers working for social change within their classrooms and teachers who engage in advocacy and organize to influence policy, law, and society are all doing work that falls under the umbrella of teacher activism. While there are numerous catalysts, many teachers become activists when they encounter unjust educational or social structures. There are also considerable obstacles to teachers recognizing their potential power as activists. From the gendered history of teaching to the widespread conception of teaching as a solitary and not a collective enterprise, there is rarely an easy path toward activism. The importance of collective as opposed to individual social action among teachers is increasingly recognized. Many cities now have teacher activist organizations, a group of which have come together and created a national coalition of teacher activist groups. Overall, teacher activism is an underresearched and undertheorized academic area of study. Possibilities for collective action should be fully explored.

Article

Amber Moore and Elizabeth Marshall

“Popular media” and “youth resistance” are significant areas of inquiry in studies and theorizations of gender and sexuality in education. Yet, the terms popular media, youth, and resistance are highly contentious, sometimes overlapping and consistently posing definitional challenges. Popular media is at first exactly what it sounds like: broadly accessible and commercially produced texts like the Harry Potter franchise; however, popular media is also deeply complex and contextually determined, shifting over time in accordance with audiences as well as popular discourses to produce plural meanings. Likewise, youth resistance encompasses ever-changing, and often reductively problematic conceptualizations. Young people are frequently misrepresented in popular media as rebellious which in turn informs popular understanding(s) of resistance as calcified, domesticated, fetishized, masculinized, and romanticized. Youth resistance then, is complex, discursive, and a nuanced material reality. The complexity of popular culture and youth’s resistance within and against it demonstrates and demands creativity and criticality.

Article

David R. Cole

Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995) was a French philosopher, who wrote about literature, art, cinema, other philosophers, capitalism, and schizophrenia. His wide-ranging oeuvre has begun to be considered seriously in education, because his ideas act as springboards for further elaboration and application in connected areas such as research, learning theory, early childhood education, curriculum and policy studies, and teacher education. Whilst it is impossible to track exactly how, when, and indeed if “Deleuze Studies in Education” will mature and progress to occupy a mainstream position in education, it is worth considering the influence of the French thinker as a mode of renewal and new thought. The questions that concern “Deleuze Studies in Education” therefore shift from positing thought from “the known” to “what can be done.” Deleuze’s solo work acts a basis for new thinking in the philosophy of education. His series of philosophical studies track and develop a new philosophy, that redraws Western concepts of the subject, knowledge, learning, and thought. The intent of this new philosophy is to open up fixed Western ideas to their international and historical counterparts and to produce a way of thinking that occupies a middle ground, disconnected from the dominant, intellectual empire building that has predominantly hailed from the West. Deleuze’s writing with the French intellectual activist, Félix Guattari (1930–1992), takes on a distinct shift and urgency away from the rewriting of the Western philosophical tradition until their last joint work called: “What is Philosophy?” and which presents a new philosophy that is sketched out in the second half of this book, and which deploys affect, percepts, concepts, and forms and functions, to move away from the ultimate horror of the present situation as they saw it: “commercial professional training.” “Deleuze Studies in Education” is deepened and reinvented through their dual work and is transformed into a mode of critical capitalist and environmental studies, which adds historical/subjective valence to how one understands current shifts in educational practice. Lastly, the specific oeuvre of Félix Guattari, which is often less investigated and focused upon in education than Deleuze, serves as a pressing and ethical engagement with theory that can be readily applied to issues such as environmental concerns, inequality, power, and activism. Guattari’s ideas are present as a lasting aspect of “Deleuze Studies in Education” because they demonstrate many of the links to practice that Deleuze theorized throughout his philosophy.

Article

Julie Gorlewski and Isabel Nuñez

Curriculum, while often conceived as a static entity delivered as a neutral set of facts arranged in disciplinary categories, is, in reality, a pedagogical artifact—a product generated as a result of decisions made by a range of stakeholders who represent different cultural imperatives linked to contested perspectives about the purposes of school. Students’ and teachers’ experiences of school, then, are dialogic performances of a curriculum that promotes various levels of power and privilege, as well as understandings of equity and diversity. Therefore, whether or not it is recognized, the curriculum delivered in schools serves to either maintain or interrupt the status quo. Given the number of students who participate in public education, curriculum contributes a great deal to shaping the national narrative. Curriculum contributes to social movements, and the nature of the curriculum determines the direction of the movement. Since curriculum development and implementation involves myriad decisions, influence is wielded by those with decision-making power. Social status and cultural capital, both of which are historically linked with political power, largely determine who makes curricular decisions, as well as how decisions are made. These conditions pose challenges for those who have been historically marginalized within educational institutions. Despite obstacles related to systemic inequities, different forms of curriculum can and do contribute to the creation and perpetuation of social movements. Moreover, educators who understand how educational institutions function, how curricular changes occur, and how curriculum can be a source of and vehicle for change can create conditions for transformative activist curricular movements.

Article

Lori Beckett and Amanda Nuttall

The case story of a local struggle in the north of England by research-active teachers to raise their collective voice and advocate for more realistic policies and practices in urban schools is one which premises teacher activism. A school–university partnership initiative exemplifies how teachers, school heads, school leaders, and academic partners can work together to address disadvantaged students’ lives, learning needs, and schooling experiences. The practitioners’ participation in an intensive, research-informed project to build teachers’ knowledge about poverty effects on teaching and learning was successful in the yield of teacher inquiry projects which were published. However, teachers’ efforts to combat student disaffection and under-achievement were deprecated with a lack of system support to the point where democratic impulse and social justice goals were weakened. It would be a misnomer to describe these teachers’ professional intellectual and inquiry work as activist, but they did engage in transformative practices. This led to the production of new knowledge and teachers working collectively toward school—and community—improvement, but it was not enough to effect policy advocacy. Professional knowledge building as a foundation of teacher activism is foregrounded in the matter of trust in teachers. To agitate for change and action in a vernacular neoliberal climate means to fight for teachers’ and academics’ voices to be heard.

Article

Michael P. O'Malley, Jennifer A. Sandlin, and Jake Burdick

Public pedagogy is a theoretical concept focusing on forms, processes, and sites of education and learning occurring beyond formal schooling and practices. Scholars have drawn from the theoretical arenas of cultural studies, critical pedagogy, and artistic/aesthetic approaches to learning in the public sphere. Focusing on both the hegemonic and the resistant aspects of public educational sites, educational scholars employing the term typically explicate its feminist, critical, cultural, performative, and/or activist pedagogical dimensions. Other scholars studying public pedagogy take up the challenge of redefining education in order to deinstitutionalize its conceptualization and uncouple it from its automatic associations with schools; and yet others take these criticisms further to explore posthuman reconceptualizations of pedagogy. Public pedagogy scholarship between 2011-2019 deploys various imaginings of the nature of the public, bringing divergent yet needed specificity to inquiry. Conceptualizations of public pedagogues and intellectualism in this time period focus less on a heroic figure advocating for marginalized groups and more on educative interruptions of public space, on popular yet disqualified knowledges, and on communal engagement that organizes around shared dissent from marginalization and alliances across difference. Theoretical and methodological investments in the study of public pedagogies have expanded to highlight poststructural and postcolonial radical critiques of the subject and nationalized legacies of colonialism. There is greater attention to the processes of becoming publics, with an emergent turn to decolonial, queer of color, posthumanist, and similar frameworks. Understandings of the pedagogical processes of public pedagogy have emphasized Marxist critical perspectives on ideological transfer; embodied, performative, and aesthetic relational dimensions; and posthumanist efforts to complicate ordained and boundaried familiar narratives, inclusive of viewing the public as a plurality of relations constituted by the human and other than human. Two productive tensions that call for further exploration in public scholarship involve the need to problematize and exceed its colonialist and humanist origins, and amplifying a relationship between scholarship and activism so that public pedagogies outside and inside institutional spaces foster an ethical vocation of the public sphere.

Article

Youth have a rich history of engaging in activism and organizing within schools to promote equity based on gender, sexuality, and race. Youth equity work in secondary schools includes myriad activities: developing student-led clubs, such as gay-straight alliances (GSAs, also known as gender and sexuality alliances); advocating for inclusive policies, practices, and curriculum; engaging in direct action, such as protests; and developing individual and shared critical consciousness. Situated in the United States, Canada, and other countries, GSAs are a common way that youth have organized to promote equity and justice for youth with marginalized sexualities and genders; they have, however, been critiqued for their lack of inclusion of racially or ethnically marginalized students or attention to intersecting forms of oppression. Opportunities exist within research, education, and practice to understand and address the heterogeneity and intersectionality of GSA groups and members, examine and understand other forms of school-based activism from an intersectional perspective, and recognize and examine school-based equity work within the broader cultural, social, and political contexts that involve families and communities. Youth, teachers, and social workers engaged in equity work in schools must attend to intersectionality and center the needs of the most marginalized within their work.