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date: 01 October 2022

Transnationalism and Education in the United Stateslocked

Transnationalism and Education in the United Stateslocked

  • G. Sue Kasun, G. Sue KasunCenter for Transnational & Multilingual Education, Georgia State University
  • Patricia SánchezPatricia SánchezBicultural-Bilingual Studies, University of Texas San Antonio
  •  and David Martínez-PrietoDavid Martínez-PrietoBilingual and Literacy Studies, University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley

Summary

Transnationalism describes the ways in which ties between two or more nations are maintained; these ties abound in social practices that are, at times, situated within rigid governing structures. Transnationalism implies not only physical movement across borders, commonly referred to as “immigration,” but also emotional ties across borders. It also includes distinct ways of knowing that are informed by social media, loved ones, and cultural practices that span borders.

The transnational social spaces in which youth are raised are often filled with deep understandings of geopolitical contexts that weave together multiple national perspectives, personal navigation of physical borders (both with and without authorized documentation), and complex social networks in more than one country sustained through ever-changing media applications. However, these knowledges often remain unengaged in and underacknowledged by schools.

The disciplines of sociology and anthropology have informed much of the research on transnationalism, although from different standpoints. Sociology has taken a more literal sense of transnationalism, focusing narrowly on physical bodies’ movements back-and-forth over borders. Anthropologists have more robustly engaged the emotional and psychological aspects of transnationalism as it impacts the groups generally described as “immigrants.” Unfortunately, most of the research related to transnational children and education has been under the larger framework of assimilation. The unfortunate result is that the focus on how immigrants assimilate misses the opportunity to interpret (and perhaps misinterprets) a larger set of accompanying phenomena alongside the immigration act.

For education, transnational experiences can help students develop a sense of identity, which in turn helps them achieve in the school settings of both receiving and sending countries, should they have to return. Similarly, transnationalism complicates and makes notions of citizenship more robust. Immigrant students are always potentially engaged transnationals during their settlement processes—the possibility exists that they will remain actively connected to their home countries and even potentially return for visits or permanently. Educational research has more recently examined how transnationalism helps create and can deepen literacy practices, especially digital literacies.

Numerous education scholars have called for educators to draw upon students’ transnational lives in the curriculum. This can help prepare all students for an increasingly globalized world. This does not suggest a “learning styles” approach in which transnational students are considered a monolithic group in need of a repertoire of instructional strategies to meet the group’s needs. Instead, educators need to create the space in which students’ transnational experiences and perceptions are allowed to be aired, understood, and built upon in schools. In education, the commonly stated goal is for the classroom to function as a “community of learners.” If, in fact, educators aspire to build true communities, transnational students’ lives should no longer remain hidden from the view of their peers and teachers.

Subjects

  • Education, Cultures, and Ethnicities
  • Globalization, Economics, and Education
  • Languages and Literacies

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