This article aims to contribute to current theoretical debates about political power and agency relationships in education and other public sector settings. In a recent clarion call for a major redirection of political principal-agent theories (PAT), Terry Moe has argued that standard information asymmetries ought no longer to be regarded as the sole foundation of bureaucrat power. According to Moe, current theories largely overlook the direct electoral power of agents and their unions (EPA) in voting for their own bureaucratic principals. Therefore, they are biased systematically towards under-estimating agent power. We critically address both Moe's theoretical arguments, and his empirical applications to Californian school board elections. We conclude that Moe over-estimates the power consequences of EPA on both counts. We outline a more balanced version of "multiple-role" PAT and of its potential implications for our understanding of the political power of public school teachers and bureaucrats more generally.
This paper provides a contextualised and critical policy analysis of the Rudd government’s national schooling agenda in Australia. The specific focus is on the introduction of national literacy and numeracy testing and the recent creation by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority of the website ‘My School’, which lists the results of these tests for all Australian schools, including school performance against averages and against the performance of 60 other socio-economically ‘likeschools’ across the nation. It is argued that we are seeing the emergence of a national system of schooling (including national curriculum) as part of the reconstitution of the nation in the face of globalization and related economisation of education policy. This is the case despite Australia’s federal political structure with the States holding the ostensible Constitutional responsibility for schooling. The analysis locates these and associated developments (a national schooling policy ensemble) within considerations of new accountabilities, the restructured state, neo-liberalism, globalized education policy discourses and policy borrowing and learning. The analysis also suggests that, despite the Prime Minister’s swingeing critique of neo-liberalism in the context of the global financial crisis and enhanced state intervention in the economy, this national schooling agenda (the government’s so-called ‘education revolution’), is a hybrid mix of the neo-liberal with social democratic aspirations to do with social justice and schooling.
In this paper I draw on ethnographic observation data taken from a school-based study of two groups of 12-13 year old pupils identified as high achieving and popular to explore how relations between teachers and pupils are mediated and constituted through the spectre of neoliberal values and sensibilities. Specifically, I demonstrate how certain high-achieving male and female pupils respond to and negotiate competing challenges summoned through the classroom – pushes to be competitive, autonomous and achieve academically, and pulls to court the acceptance of others and become or remain popular. This highlights the pervasive role of neoliberal governance on the construction of (preferred) learner identities and orientations to learning. At the same time, it draws attention to the instability and unpredictability of its appropriation in the context of intersecting dynamics of gender, friendship and popularity. I conclude the paper by considering how neoliberal styles, rhetoric and cultural forms impact on ideas of social justice and possibilities for a ‘critical’ or ‘transformative’ pedagogy in education, namely one that conceives the curriculum and pedagogical practices as responses to the positive contribution of learners.
This study is an empirical account of the professional development (PD) practices that constituted part of the work of a group of teachers and school-based administrators working together in a cluster of six schools in southeast Queensland, Australia, during a period of intense educational reform. The data comprise meeting transcripts and interviews with teachers and administrators involved in a reform-oriented professional development initiative over an 18-month period. To analyse these teacher learning practices as teachers' work in this context, the article draws upon Bourdieu's theory of practice, particularly his understanding of the social world as comprising multiple social spaces, or 'fields', each characterised by contestation over the practices of most value. The data reveal the field of teachers' work, in which much of the teacher learning transpired, as influenced by a broader instrumental culture; this culture developed in response to teachers' concerns about how to respond to state educational provision initiatives in a more neoliberal global era. These instrumental logics were evident in superficial compliance with and reflection upon educational reform and the continuation of individualistic, workshop-based PD practices. However, at the same time and in keeping with fields as contested, there is also evidence of teachers' participation in more sustained PD practices - involving teachers actively engaging with the content of educational reform, participating in robust reflection about their practice and collaborating in substantive communities of learners. The findings also suggest the need to explicitly support substantive PD within the field of teachers' work in order to challenge more administrative and instrumental pressures to engage in reform. Such a response will assist in fostering the conditions for the generation of a more truly student-centred, collaborative and reflective habitus amongst teachers.
This article examines interview talk of three students in an Australian high school to show how they negotiate their young adult identities between school and the outside world. It draws on Bakhtin’s concepts of dialogism and heteroglossia to argue that identities are linguistically and corporeally constituted. A critical discourse analysis of segments of transcribed interviews and student-related public documents finds a mismatch between a social justice curriculum at school and its transfer into students’ accounts of outside school lived realities. The article concludes that a productive social justice pedagogy must use its key principles of (con)textual interrogation to engage students in reflexive practice about their positioning within and against discourses of social justice in their student and civic lives. An impending national curriculum must decide whether or not it negotiates the discursive divide any better.
Given Australia's diverse student population, the need for pre-service teacher education to prepare what is a predominantly Anglo-Australian and middle-class profession to be effective teachers of diverse students is critical. In Lortie's (1975) classic study, however, he argues that the predispositions of teacher education students are a much more powerful socialising influence than pre-service education. This article explores dispositions towards social justice in pre-service teachers from two teacher education programs within one Australian metropolitan university. Drawing on notions of distributive, retributive and recognitive justice (Gale & Densmore, 2000) as a way of making sense of socially just dispositions, interviews with four pre-service teachers - two beginning their Graduate Diploma in Education program (a one year program) and two beginning their final year of the Bachelor of Education program (a four year program) - are analysed. Differences in the dispositions of teachers from the two cohorts are examined and implications for teacher education discussed.
This paper argues that the content, analytical approaches and institutional affiliations of authors of articles published in the latest issues of two leading educational policy studies journals provide useful insights into the contested nature of educational policy studies. The paper draws upon a selection of articles published in 2007/08 issues of two flag-ship policy journals, the UK-based Journal of Education Policy, and the US-based Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. At the same time, the article is also suggestive of how Pierre Bourdieu’s analytical resources of field, habitus and capital might be used to understand the academic journal publication practices which contribute to this contestation. The paper suggests that these journals and the articles within them may be construed as valued capitals and ‘traces’ of a broader conflict over what is considered valid research within the field of educational policy studies.
Critical research in education is not what it used to be. It must now engage with a differently structured and globalized world with different social and material conditions for its peoples. This paper sets out to name the contemporary structure of feeling in which education researchers now work, particularly in terms of what now is to be the object of their educational theorizing and research and what are to be the intellectual resources brought to bear on such activity. The intention is to open up debate, recognizing that there are no easy answers and yet acknowledging the need for answers to be attempted. It is, therefore, an invitation premised on an optimism of the will to complement legitimate pessimism of the intellect. It concludes that a critical engagement with these matters demands a modernist/postmodernist, reconstructive/deconstructive reflexivity in the mobilizing of a new sociological imagination applied across the broad spectrum which is educational research.
This article provides an alternative perspective on what it means to ‘do school’ in a disadvantaged community, particularly in the way that disadvantage is reproduced for marginalised students. It explores the mobility of teachers (temporarily) working in a small secondary school located in an economically depressed regional community in Australia, characterised by high levels of unemployment, high welfare dependency and a significant indigenous population. Like many disadvantaged schools, the school has difficulty attracting and retaining high ability teachers, instead relying on a high turnover of often-reluctant staff who are sent to (or feel compelled to) fill positions unable to be resourced through teacher choice procedures. Drawing on parent, student, and teacher interviews, we ask: how does teacher mobility in this context influence the educational opportunities of students who are ‘on the margins’ of school success and of the socio-economic structure? Specifically, we explore the ways that teacher mobility can reproduce disadvantage by limiting students’ access to the dominant cultural capital. We argue that educational policies and politics that reward teacher mobility for moving out of these communities, work to disadvantage students. What is needed is a transformation in policies governing staff placements to establish alternatives that redefine the reward system for teachers in ways that permit these students to succeed.
Drawing on the voices of students, parents and teachers from a secondary school located in a regional area of Australia in a township characterised by its high welfare dependency and Indigenous population, this article explores the tensions between how marginalised students see themselves and how they are seen by their peers, teachers and fellow community members, with reference to Bourdieu's concept of habitus. The article moves towards a theorisation of a reproductive habitus (those who recognise the constraint of social conditions and conditionings and tend to read the future that fits them) and a transformative habitus (those who recognise the capacity for improvisation and tend to generate opportunities for action in the social field). While some teachers appear to be attempting a transformation of students, the article concludes that instead, teachers should value and give voice to who students are, as they identify themselves. They should be more concerned to transform schooling; to provide educational opportunities that transform the life experiences of and open up opportunities for all young people, especially those disadvantaged by poverty and marginalised by difference.
In this article the authors report on an investigation of the types of professional development university academics perceive to be of most value in the current context of universities. In the current context academics are required to undertake a range of tasks that hitherto may not have been seen as the role of academics. These include marketing and generating enterprise income, as well as teaching, undertaking research and performing administrative duties. The conduct of professional development for academics may then relate to roles broader than the traditional ones that focused on research and teaching
This essay examines Leo Strauss’s pedagogical method in his teaching on rights. The goal in this essay is not to present Strauss’s argument for or against any particular conception of rights. In fact, it is to dissuade readers of Strauss from seeking such conclusions within Strauss’s texts, and to argue that the reader’s attention turn toward the method of inquiry exemplified by Strauss’s presentation. Strauss’s choice of the topic in 1949 was based upon the contradictory status of the conception of rights within the existing modern “regime of truth.” Strauss focused attention on the inherent contradictions between the political and scientific as well as the cultural and natural lines of inquiry. The case is made that Strauss intended to advance a particular method of inquiry suited to cultural-political topics through a critique of the modern made possible by a return to the ancients.
Amid this global landscape for education and policy, this paper focuses on the subject of teacher quality through the lens of teacher education reform and one particular Australian policy initiative: The Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE). Introduced by the federal Australian government in 2016 as a gate-keeping mechanism for students entering teacher education, we apply a four-dimensional framework to analyse LANTITE’s role as a reform measure aimed at improving teacher education, and its impact on shaping understandings of ‘teacher quality’ and ‘quality teacher education’ in relation to the broader field. (Free full-text available here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17508487.2018.1558410)
Efforts to emphasize higher education’s role in development have grown in recent years, but important questions remain about the motivations and effects of these initiatives. In this paper, we employ the concept of a ‘modern/colonial global imaginary’ to consider the impact of the enduring power relations and uneven politics of knowledge in the relationship between higher education and development. Specifically, we consider the Association of Commonwealth Universities’ (ACU) ‘Beyond 2015’ campaign, which was launched in anticipation of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals. We argue that despite the ACU’s intention to provide ‘a platform for diverse voices, particularly from the global South’, the campaign was structured in a way that discouraged dissenting perspectives. More broadly, we consider available possibilities and limitations for challenging mainstream development agendas.
In this Indigenous/non-Indigenous collaboration, we examine discourses of ‘community engagement’ in Australia’s blueprint education policy, Through Growth to Achievement: The Report of The Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools. While the report addresses the education sector widely rather than being specifically directed towards Indigenous education, as a significant equity-oriented text it is accountable for responding to the educational inequities that so greatly impact Indigenous students and communities. We begin this paper by reviewing some of the complex historical meanings in educational policy assumed through the term community engagement, followed by an analysis of how Australia’s non-Indigenous policy writers have historically constructed Indigenous identities and communities. Drawing on Carol Bacchi’s poststructural policy discourse analysis, ‘What’s the problem represented to be?’ we explore the taken-for-granted assumptions about who and what ‘community’ means including what cause and effect benefits are assumed from community engagement. We propose that colonial legacies are still present in the way ‘community engagement’ is defined in this influential report and advocate for a policy disruption that utilises Indigenous definitions of community and community engagement.
This paper examines the epistemologies and ontologies of education policy studies. Our aim is to posit a reinvigoration of policy studies to hedge against undue ossification and co-option of critical policy studies. We do so by arguing for the need to develop new concepts for policy studies using the ‘posts’ (e.g., post-structuralism and post-humanism). The paper aims to create a vocabulary and conceptual contribution to the new ways of undertaking, and new ontologies of, policy studies that are emerging as part of what we term policy scientificity 3.0.
In this article, we explore the social production of able-bodiedness triggered by an art-based research project carried out in an inclusive Chilean school. Grounded in Deleuzoguattarian assemblage theory, we map the multiplicities produced by the collision between social justice research practices and ‘vulnerability’ as a pervading category within the contemporary education policyscape. Analyzing a short film created by students labeled as ‘at risk’, we expose that educational policies aimed at addressing social vulnerability invent ‘the future’ as only habitable for those who materialize able-bodiedness. However, crip futurities also emerge throughout the short film, showing that non-normative expressions of the human can actualize themselves using research as a milieu. These simultaneous and asymmetrical ways of expressing humanness illuminate how intricate the affective relation between research and neoliberal policy is. We conclude by discussing the power of research-assemblages for disorienting ableist biopedagogies and legitimizing futures other than those of compulsory able-bodiedness.
This paper problematises the concept of cultural competence in teacher professional learning arguing instead for opportunities to develop critical reflexivity in the ongoing construction of a pedagogical cultural identity. In the Aboriginal context within Australia, this research study demonstrates how attaining cultural knowledge, understandings and skills is most effective when professional learning is delivered by local Aboriginal cultural knowledge holders. This research study analyses the New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Connecting to Country cultural immersion programme for local communities and schools. A mixed methods approach, analysing quantitative and qualitative data from questionnaires and interviews, highlights the significant impact this experience has on teachers in building relationships with local Aboriginal community members. Teachers reported learning new knowledge about local Aboriginal people, culture, history and issues that challenged their assumptions, personal and collective positioning and pedagogical approaches to teaching Aboriginal students. Implications from the study identify the significance of privileging Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing in order to realise culturally responsive schooling and empower teachers as critically reflective change agents in their schools. It further identifies the need for significant human and financial investment so that all teachers can engage with this authentic and potentially transformative professional learning experience.
An increasing number of Australian universities are committing to Indigenous Graduate Attributes across a wide range of academic disciplines. This paper critiques not only the slow up-take of Indigenous Graduate Attributes in the last 10 years, but also how such attributes may realistically contribute to university students graduating with increased ‘awareness’, ‘knowledges’ and ‘abilities’ to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. It is reasoned that any commitment to Indigenous Graduate Attributes must be carefully and critically monitored for the silencing effects of colonial narratives that also are prevalent throughout Australian Indigenous Studies (which is arguably the foundation of realising Indigenous Graduate Attributes). Drawing from a diversity of Indigenous standpoint theories, critical studies and research methodologies, the paper offers a critical evaluative framework through which both Indigenous Graduate Attributes and the content within the teaching and learning of Australian Indigenous Studies may be evaluated. This includes an acute awareness of imposed colonial narratives, a critical awareness of one’s own positioning, engagement with Indigenous voices, knowledge of Indigenous Research Methodologies, and more meaningful levels of Indigenous engagement through Indigenous ethics and protocols.
This paper discusses key questions of pedagogical hope and courage through non-formal educational activities such as football. We look beyond standard assumptions of sports as a vehicle to stimulate social cohesion and prevent anti-social and criminal behaviour among Aboriginal youth to address core philosophical and pedagogical questions that underpin sporting promotion within underprivileged communities. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, eight young Aboriginal top-footballers from the town of Borroloola in Australia’s Northern Territory, went to the tournament host country, Brazil, to take part in a range of activities, including spending time with local Indigenous communities. This tour was promoted by the John Moriarty Football initiative. Following the tour, the Aboriginal footballers went back to their community to become sporting leaders and also to continue their football careers. With data gathered from interviews with the central participants of the tour, and by using Freire’s concepts of emancipation through dialogic practices, hope, critical consciousness, and untested feasibility, we look at the Borroloola youths’ football educational activities as a dialogic space where autonomy and citizenship can be enhanced. Employing the Freirean critical dialogue method, the paper unveils the significant connections between non-formal sporting activities and the flourishing of the pedagogy of courage.
Student affairs, a field comprised of many co- and extra-curricular university functions outside of academic affairs, has a durable left-leaning reputation. Roderick Ferguson’s theorization of minority absorption serves as the concept through which we investigate the practices of student affairs. Ferguson argues that student movements of the 1960s and 1970s, which aimed at transforming academic affairs into spaces of radical equity for minoritized students, were ultimately absorbed by institutions, leaving academic affairs relatively intact save a veneer of diversity. We review Ferguson’s arguments on absorption, including his utilization of Foucauldian biopower, and proceed to analyze absorption in three disparate areas of student affairs: student development theory, student outcomes, and cultural centers. As queer scholars, we specifically focus on queerness within these areas. From these critiques we explore the creative potential of Ferguson’s concept of critical possibilities, comprised of analytical framing and practices of dissensus. The practices of analytical framing and dissensus explored can bring the actions of student affairs communities in line with their reputation, and incite radical institutional changes long fought for.
The colonial nature of South African universities remains a source of debate among students and academics. Decolonization as rethinking academic institutional practices seems less controversial; the specificity of how to decolonize the academia is the core of divergent arguments and contesting ideologies. Consequently, many suggestions and methods for the decolonization of South African universities have been proffered. Although some of these suggestions are pertinent, a critical question about what should South African academe decolonize from needs to be engaged. This requires a critical, theoretical and intellectual discourse of coloniality in order to rethink the academia in South Africa. Drawing from Anibal Quijano’s critical discourse of coloniality of power, this paper (re)visits the nature of coloniality, explores approaches to decolonization and situates these understandings to the academia in postcolonial South Africa. A polycentric approach to decolonization is supported with a goal of decolonization as innovations.
Neoliberal higher education reforms in relation to quality assurance, managerialist practices, accountability and performativity are receiving increasing attention and criticism. In this article, I will address student assessment as part of the technologies that increasingly govern academics and their work in universities. I will draw on Foucault’s theories of governmentality and subjectification, and discourse analysis that have framed the research conducted with 16 academics in one university in the UK. While academics in the study expressed frustration with neoliberal reforms in general, and assessment policies in particular, they tended not to demonstrate overt resistance within their university systems. The reasons for this will be questioned and analysed in relation to a neoliberal mode of government where power relations shaping academic subjectivities are diffuse and pervasive. I will discuss the ways in which academics understand and act within these power relations, and I will also demonstrate a variety of covert practices that academics tend to apply when coping with the neoliberal technologies of government such as assessment.
Postsecondary institutions remain bastions of oppression, threat and harm for faculty who hold minoritized identities. While some scholars have explored the ways in which monoracial faculty of color and LGBT faculty members navigate an academy that is steeped in racism, genderism, sexism and other systems of oppression, there remains a paucity of scholarship focused on the experiences of multiracial faculty and nonbinary trans* faculty. Given the need to focus on faculty who hold liminal identities in relation to hegemonic identitarian illogic, we used Gloria Anzaldúa’s borderlands theory and an auto-ethnographic analysis to explore our academic experiences as faculty members whose identities place us betwixt-and-between socially constructed monolithic identity categories.
Is there (still) something specific about academic practice in contemporary neoliberal times? This article reports on a sociomaterial, ethnographic study informed by Deleuze’s untimely empiricism conducted at two research centres of a research university. We unfold the specificity of ‘the academic’ by elaborating upon two central notions: relational aspirations (the attachments of these academics, and the operations that such attachments generate) and mode of existence (the way academic practice comes into being by and through these attachments). The article discerns four types of relations that are typical for academic practice and argues that the way in which academic practice exists nowadays is characterized by a continuous distancing in action, that is, by drawing things together and by slowing things down.
Transnational academic mobility is often characterized in relation to terms such as ‘brain drain’, ‘brain gain’, or ‘brain circulation’ – terms that isolate researchers’ minds from their bodies, while saying nothing about their political identities as foreign nationals. In this paper, I explore the possibilities of a more ‘nomadic political ontology’, where the body is ‘multifunctional and complex, a transformer of flows and energies, affects, desires and imaginings’ (p. 25). In this sense, academic mobility is not only the outcome of national innovation and economic competitiveness strategies, but also sets the conditions for epistemic and ontological change at the level of the individual. In this paper, I explore a personal account of the nomadic political ontology of academic mobility to exemplify the interrelationships between nationalism, academic belonging and transnationalism. My experiences as a transnational subject affect the stability and scope of my work as a policy-oriented researcher who studies the academic profession and the internationalization of higher education. My positionality in relation to my research focus is likely not unique to the field of higher education studies or educational research more broadly, which permits a wider applicability of this exploration beyond personal narrative and a particular national context. This personal reflection, guided by nomadic theory and post-structural possibilities, offers a viewpoint of the academic profession beyond the standard mobility discourse.
This article reports the findings of a study on the nature of parent-school engagement at an academically selective public high school in New South Wales, Australia. Such research is pertinent given recent policies of ‘choice’ and decentralization, making a study of local stakeholders timely. The research comprised a set of interviews with parents and teachers (n = 15), through which parents - all members of the school’s Parents’ and Citizens’ group - theorized and explained their involvement with the school, and teachers spoke about their views on this involvement. Results are organized around three themes: ‘how parents worked to nurture their children’s schooling’, ‘reasons behind parents’ involvement with the school’, and ‘communication and use of parental resources by the school’. Overall it was found that while parents were making significant efforts to involve themselves in the education of their children and with the school more broadly, the reasons for their involvement were not always consistent, but instead revealed a range of motivations for and conceptions of parents’ roles within schools, which at times were at odds with the teachers’. Through this, the study contributes to our understanding of middle-class parent engagement at an unusual and particular type of school.
Both the consumer subjectivity and partnership models are receiving increasing attention within higher education institutions. In this article, I explore the impersonality that characterises the social role of the consumer and its impact on the formation and implementation of meaningful relationships between undergraduates and academics. I draw from Fairclough’s three-dimensional model of critical discourse analysis to explore 32 interviews and 12 policy documents gathered from two post-1992 universities in England. Academics and undergraduates in this study recognised the conflict that arises between the consumer subjectivity and the partner subjectivity; this article explores how this conflict is created through the behaviours that constitute socially structured roles. I will discuss the divergence between the institutional positioning of undergraduates and the impact this positioning has on the relationships between undergraduates and academics. This article discusses the variation apparent in the verbal and written discourses across both institutions and questions the navigation of the impersonal consumer subjectivity for fostering meaningful relationships between undergraduates and academics.
High school students are expected to make choices about which subjects they study. These choices are not completely open; however, they are steered by what is on offer, previous achievement and conversations with teachers, family and friends; choices are patterned by class, gender, able-ness and race. We offer the perspective of subject choice as resistance. The paper uses student focus group data from a 3-year study of the visual and performing arts in 30 schools in England. We show that students chose the arts not only because what it might do for them in the future, but also for what it provided for them in the everyday. We suggest that the quotidian is an important aspect of choice-making, which, in the case of arts pedagogies, both accommodates the highly regulated norm and offers a counter. This analysis points to avenues for further research on subject choice as well as provides important clues for school reform.
In the entrepreneurial university, epistemic governance is exerted through external pressures of market competition, funding, university rankings and research assessment and internal processes of organisational restructuring and mechanisms of corporate governance to re/produce epistemic injustices. Data from a study of three Australian universities illustrate the implications of these for the Humanities and Social Sciences, numerically feminised fields of research and practice and how, in the Australian context, political conservatism aligns with a particular Anglophone sensibility regarding science and society. Excluding the social and critical knowledge practices of the humanities and social sciences is dangerous to both the academy and democracies, particularly in post-truth times.
Since the late 1970s, international education has steadily gained in popularity in China. An emerging middle class seeks to strengthen its position in China’s rapidly stratifying society under its socialist market economy with the shift from wealth creation for all to wealth concentration for a few. Previously, a foreign qualification was considered a passport to success in either the host or home country’s labour market. But the growing popularity of overseas study, coupled with the massification of the Chinese higher education, means Chinese international students are seeking to distinguish themselves in an increasingly competitive global labour market. This longitudinal study of international graduates, backgrounded by Australian employer perceptions, examines the journeys of 13 Chinese accounting graduates as they attempt to transition from an Australian university into the Australian labour market. Bourdieu’s thinking tools of field, capital, disposition and habitus are utilised to consider how different cultural, social and linguistic capitals inform employer understandings of ‘employability’ meant Chinese accounting graduates significantly adjusted their life goals.
How can history pedagogy account for racialized experiences impacting historical thinking in the present? In contrast to a more universalized set of historical thinking skills, this article asserts a framework for historical inquiry through students’ racialized experiences. What does historical inquiry through racialized experience look like? Rather than merely make room in the curriculum to validate racialized experience, students require tools to confront and historicize their experiences in a racialized world. Through three essential questions addressing the relationship between historical thinking and racialized experience, I emphasize historical scholarship that centers racially marginalized experiences. These essential questions lead into a framework for reorienting historical inquiry in the classroom, complimenting rather than replacing mainstream historical thinking pedagogy.
This article examines the educational activism of two Arab civil organizations in Israel: the Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education (FUCAE) and the Eqraa Association (Eqraa). On the one hand, it explores the possibilities and limitations of the involvement of the FUCAE in the state’s Arab education system, as a secular organization that is heavily engaged in the contentious identity politics of the Arab minority in Israel. On the other hand, it reflects on the competing yet complementary roles played by Eqraa vis-à-vis the state in the field of education, as a faith-based organization that has been operating its own independent successful initiatives in education. More specifically, this article compares the goals, strategies, activities, and sources of funding of these two organizations, thus providing insights on the role of civil society organizations, either secular or religious, on Palestinian identity formation and political mobilization in Israel. Additionally, it clarifies the meaning and characteristics of Islamic entrepreneurship and activism in education.
How research can better inform policy and how policy can have a better research base are longstanding issues both in educational research and across public policy generally. Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt, this article argues that progress in increasing the impact of research can be made through a clearer understanding of the nature of politics. Arendt's identification of 'persuasion' as the defining activity of the political sphere is used to argue that the communication of research findings, relevant to education policy, must be similarly aligned if it is to be effective. The article views approaches such as knowledge transfer and knowledge exchange as inadequately constructed and instead promotes the concept of 'knowledge activism' as a means by which research evidence can be made operational in political terms. The article acknowledges the risk to academic integrity and objectivity of such overtly political behaviour but argues that remaining outside the political sphere simply guarantees minimal research impact.
In this article, I revisit the concept of activist educational research to consider a wider array of methodological approaches that support the documentation and transformation of systems of oppression, from youth participatory action research projects to ‘studying up.’ Although activist researchers often turn to participatory methods, I examine how ‘studying up’ can support grassroots organizing from below. Drawing on my own experiences ‘studying up’ to better understand how emerging national security policies have criminalized Muslim youth, I analyze the methodological considerations, ethical provocations, and accountability processes such projects raise. By (re)broadening what counts as activist educational research using the rubric of transforming existing social arrangements and reaffirming the feminist concept of ‘strong objectivity’ (Harding, 1995), I encourage education scholars across the globe to engage a broader range of methodological approaches to support community struggles for educational justice.
Mass discontent erupted in 2011 through the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) when people took to the streets expressing frustration with growing economic disparities under neoliberal policies. In this article, I document how grassroots activists in New York City used OWS to galvanize energy for educational justice. Calling themselves Occupy the Department of Education, these teacher activists (TAs) critically analyzed wealth and power stratification as well as corporate-driven, market-based education reform. Through interviews, I explore TAs' frustration with policies undermining the participation; voices; and power of parents, students, and educators and detail grassroots organizing strategies used to respond to neoliberal reform. These five strategies included unmasking the neoliberal narrative of meritocracy and choice; diverting discontent with the economic crisis toward educational justice; amplifying voices through tools that allowed for democratic participation of people silenced by current structures; claiming coalition among diverse groups rather than embracing competitive models; and generating power by organizing for change. Ultimately, I reveal that by using such strategies, TAs worked to build a movement to confront neoliberal school reforms that they saw undermining public education.
This paper examines how international, large-scale skills assessments (ILSAs) engage with the broader societies they seek to serve and improve. It looks particularly at the discursive work that is done by different interest groups and the media through which the findings become part of public conversations and are translated into usable form in policy arenas. The paper discusses how individual countries are mobilised to participate in international surveys, how the public release of findings is managed and what is known from current research about how the findings are reported and interpreted in the media. Research in this area shows that international and national actors engage actively and strategically with ILSAs, to influence the interpretation of findings and subsequent policy outcomes. However, these efforts are indeterminate and this paper argues that it is at the more profound level of the public imagination of education outcomes and of the evidence needed to know about these that ILSAs achieve their most totalising effects.
Harvey Graff in his 1979 study of literacy taught in common schools in mid-nineteenth century Canada, demonstrated that beliefs in the acquisition of literacy for upward mobility and economic success were a myth. Moreover, literacy instruction was promoted by educational reformers and manufacturers as a means of controlling the working class masses and instilling in them the traits, including thrift, order, and punctuality required for employment in factories. In this paper, we consider how this thesis can be adapted to describe contemporary national adult literacy policy discourse in Australia. The main drivers of Australia's national policy are peak industry associations and skills agencies, and the human capital rationale for their promotion of literacy is derived largely from the powerful influence of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). We critique this discourse on literacy through reference to studies which conceptualise literacy as social practices, including one recent Australian study of three manufacturing companies. We reinforce the claim that the literacy myth in relation to economic development continues in contemporary adult literacy policy, and we explain how the social control function of adult literacy education continues in the interests of industry elites and the capitalist relations of production.