Educational Theory

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1741-5446
Print ISSN: 0013-2004
In this essay David Bridges argues that since most families choose to realize their responsibility for the major part of their children's education through state schools, then the way in which the state constructs parents' relation with these schools is one of its primary levers on parenting itself. Bridges then examines the way in which parent-school relations have been defined in England through government and quasi-government interventions over the last forty-five years, tracing these through an awakening interest in the relation between social class and unequal school success in the 1960s, passing through the discourse of accountability in the 1970s, marketization in the 1980s and 1990s, performativity extending from this period into the first decade of the twenty-first century, and, most recently, more direct interventions into parenting itself and the regulation of school relations with parents in the interests of safeguarding children. These have not, however, been entirely discrete policy themes, and the positive and pragmatic employment of the discourse of partnership has run throughout this period, albeit with different points of emphasis on the precise terms of such partnership.
In this essay, Nancy Vansieleghem starts from the observation that parents nowadays are addressed as individuals in need of parental expertise and advice. She maintains that the notion that we are living in a permanently changing society has created a context in which parents feel that they no longer "know" what is good or bad for their children. On this view, parents need to learn how to manage their parenthood. Vansieleghem questions the need for expertise and advice that is characteristic of our new mode of understanding parenting. In developing her argument, she borrows from Michel Foucault the notion "figure"-in this case, the type of parents who understand themselves as in need of expertise in order to respond to their children-and she draws further on Giorgio Agamben's analysis of the state of exception. Vansieleghem concludes by detailing the figure of the residual self as one that understands parental care as something that can and should be managed beyond concepts such as "disciplinary power" and "normalization."
In this essay James Conroy raises the question of how far the state should engage in the rearing of children, looking in particular at homeschooling as a site for contestation. He considers this question by looking specifically at recent developments in the United Kingdom around the elision of child safeguarding issues with concern about the control of home education. In the first part of the essay, Conroy explores some general questions about the relation between politics and populism, and the consequences for the prerogatives of parents. In the second part of the essay, he interrogates constructivist accounts of the family and offers something of a historical corrective to the widely held view (emanating from Philippe Ariès) that the very conceit of the family is a "modern" invention. This analysis leads Conroy to conclude that, while states do have a proper locus in the upbringing of children, they must make certain presumptions in favor of the parent if governmental responses to home education are to be considered political rather than populist and "controlling."
Due to a number of radical changes in society, the role of parents in the upbringing of their children has been redefined. In this essay, Paul Smeyers argues that "risk" thinking, and the technologization that goes with it in the context of child rearing, naturally leads to the rights discourse, but that thinking about the relation between parents and children in terms of rights confronts one with a number of insurmountable problems. The concept of the "best interests of a child" that is often invoked is, to say the least, not at all clear. Smeyers contends that while the discourse of rights is clearly important and relevant insofar as the relation between parents and the state are discussed, it impoverishes our understanding of relations of family members when used as an all-inclusive framework in that context. Therefore, he concludes that we must surpass the totalizing tendency of the transformation of the social realm into a system, of defining the relation between parents and children in technical terms, and of holding parents liable for their children's upbringing.
In this essay, Robert Davis argues that much of the moral anxiety currently surrounding children in Europe and North America emerges at ages and stages curiously familiar from traditional Western constructions of childhood. The symbolism of infancy has proven enduringly effective over the last two centuries in associating the earliest years of children's lives with a peculiar prestige and aura. Infancy is then vouchsafed within this symbolism as a state in which all of society's hopes and ideals for the young might somehow be enthusiastically invested, regardless of the complications that can be anticipated in the later, more ambivalent years of childhood and adolescence. According to Davis, the understanding of the concept of infancy associated with the rise of popular education can trace its pedigree to a genuine shift in sensibility that occurred in the middle of the eighteenth century. After exploring the essentially Romantic positions of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and Friedrich Fröbel and their relevance to the pattern of reform of early childhood education in the United Kingdom and the United States, Davis also assesses the influence of figures such as Stanley Hall and John Dewey in determining the rationale for modern early childhood education. A central contention of Davis's essay is that the assumptions evident in the theory and practice of Pestalozzi and his followers crystallize a series of tensions in the understanding of infancy and infant education that have haunted early childhood education from the origins of popular schooling in the late eighteenth century down to the policy dilemmas of the present day.
School shootings are traumatic events that cause a community to question itself, its values, and its educational systems. In this article Bryan Warnick, Benjamin Johnson, and Samuel Rocha explore the meanings of school shootings by examining three recent books on school violence. Topics that grow out of these books include (1) how school shootings might be seen as ceremonial rituals, (2) how schools come to be seen as appropriate places for shootings, and (3) how advice to educators relating to school shootings might change the practice of teaching. The authors present various ways of understanding school shootings that may eventually prove helpful, but they also highlight the problems, tensions, and contradictions associated with each position. In the end, the authors argue, the circumstances surrounding school shootings demonstrate the need for the "tragic sense" in education. This need for the tragic sense, while manifest in many different areas of schooling, is exemplified most clearly in targeted school shootings.
In this essay, Richard Smith observes that being a parent, like so much else in our late-modern world, is required to become ever more efficient and effective, and is increasingly monitored by the agencies of the state, often with good reason given the many recorded instances of child abuse and cruelty. However, Smith goes on to argue, this begins to cast being a parent as a matter of "parenting," a technological deployment of skills and techniques, with the loss of older, more spontaneous and intuitive relations between parents and children. Smith examines this phenomenon further through a discussion of how it is captured to some extent in Hannah Arendt's notion of "natality" and how it is illuminated by Charles Dickens in his classic novel, Dombey and Son.
From today’s perspective, the work of the Frankfurt School thinkers can be considered the last grand modern attempt to offer transcendence, meaning, and religiosity, rather than “emancipation” and “truth”. In the very first stage of their work, up to World War II and the Holocaust, Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer interlaced the goals of Critical Theory with the Marxian revolutionary project. The development of their thought led them to criticize orthodox Marxism and it ended with a complete break with that tradition (Gur-Ze’ev, 1996, p. 115), as they developed a quest for a religiosity of a unique kind, connected with the Gnostic tradition and emanating, to a certain extent, from Judaism. This religiosity offers a reformulated negative theology within the framework of what I call “Diasporic philosophy” (Gur-Ze’ev, 2003; Gur-Ze’ev 2004, p. 3).
During the course of the 20th century, educational research yielded to the lure of Galileo’s vision of a universe that could be measured in numbers. This was especially true in the United States, where quantification had long enjoyed a prominent place in public policy and professional discourse. But the process of reframing reality in countable terms began eight centuries earlier in Western Europe, where it transformed everything from navigation to painting, then arrived fully formed on the shores of the New World, where it shaped the late-blooming field of scholarship in education. Like converts everywhere, the new American quantifiers in education became more Catholic than the pope, quickly developing a zeal for measurement that outdid the astronomers and mathematicians that preceded them. The consequences for both education and educational research have been deep and devastating.
As a scholar in a dance department, I am expected to produce words, not movement, scholarly research instead of choreography. While I have experimented with some forms that mix media, combining spoken scholarly text with choreographed or improvised movement, and presented these at several conferences, I do not think that research must be sung, painted, or danced in order to represent the influence of the arts. In this paper I will explore how my experience in dance is represented in my educational research. That experience includes more than thirty years of being in the audience as well as in the studio. Yet it is the lived experience of dancing that I have found to be most influential in my thinking and writing, and which has provided the metaphors that have helped me to understand my life and my work as a scholar.
Abstract In a post-9/11 world, where the politics of “us” versus “them” has reemerged under the umbrella of “terrorism,” especially in the United States, can we still envision an éducation sans frontières: a globalized and critical praxis of citizenship education in which there are no borders? If it is possible to conceive it, what might it look like? In this review essay, Awad Ibrahim looks at how these multilayered and complex questions have been addressed in three books: Peter McLaren and Ramin Farahmandpur’s Teaching Against Global Capitalism and the New Imperialism, Nel Noddings’s Educating Citizens for Global Awareness, and Gita Steiner-Khamsi’s The Global Politics of Educational Borrowing and Lending. Ibrahim concludes that, through creating a liminal, dialogical space between humanism, environmentalism, materialism, philosophy, and comparative education, the authors in these books offer a critical pedagogy in which éducation sans frontières is possible — a project that is as visionary as it is hopeful.
The child's attention, how this attention is reasoned about, and how attention works as a surface for pedagogical intervention are central to understanding modern schooling. This article examines “attention” as an object of knowledge related to the organization and management of individuals. I address what we might learn about attention by studying one specific Montessori classroom, the glass-walled public demonstration set up at the 1915 San Francisco World's Fair. The pedagogy of attention on display and the spectatorship of the classroom provide an opportunity to rethink how power and subjectivity play in the formation of human attractions. I argue that thinking through Montessori offers important and relevant suggestions for present-day examinations of attention. The 1915 demonstration classroom can help us theorize the relation of attention to normalizing and governmentalizing practices. This specific study of how attention operates in one locale has implications for tactile learning theories and for the analytics of power to be used in studies of attention.
According to the dominant historiographical narrative, the social reconstructionists were a homogeneous group with a shared social, political, economic, and educational agenda. However, the pages of the journal The Social Frontier are replete with evidence that they were not in agreement on significant issues, especially when it came to the proper role of teachers in reform efforts. In fact, a close look reveals that the social reconstructionists presented multiple, overlapping, and often conflicting theories and strategies to advance the reconstruction of society, while explicating different roles for teachers therein. When teachers are placed at the center of the investigation, their factionalism, which has been discussed previously by C.A. Bowers and James Giarelli in their studies of the journal, is conspicuously apparent. Analysis of the different conceptions of teachers presented in The Social Frontier (subsequently titled Frontiers of Democracy) reveals that collectively, the social reconstructionists engaged in “more than one struggle”; and individually, they held views that were influenced by personal priorities and responses to the Depression, the spread of Communism and Fascism, the start of war in Europe and Asia, and, eventually, the involvement of the United States in World War II.
This article examines school libraries as a context for the emergence of digital literacies through a critical analysis of the signature discourse of library pedagogy, namely, information literacy. Using poststructuralist theory, it outlines a hyperliteracy approach and argues this would be more relevant and effective than the cognitive processing model of the modernist 'information literacy' framework.
In this review essay, William Proefriedt argues that it may be possible to reformulate three apparently irreconcilable stances in a manner that would allow more interaction among the elements championed within each stance. The arguments addressed are (1) the argument for the efficacy of educational reform; (2) the argument that social and economic realities decisively undercut the efficacy of educational reform; and (3) the argument that the heritability of IQ is dramatically more determinative of individuals' school and economic success than any set of school policies and practices. Proefriedt seeks to examine these positions as they have been developed in Linda Darling-Hammond et al.'s Powerful Learning: What We Know About Teaching for Understanding, Richard Rothstein's Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap, and Charles Murray's Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality. He concludes that the three analyses under consideration can be formulated so that each might serve to complement the strengths and correct the deficiencies of the others, thus yielding a broader explanatory scheme that could lead to wiser policies.
Top-cited authors
Gert Biesta
  • Maynooth University Ireland & University of Edinburgh
Michalinos Zembylas
  • Open University of Cyprus
Deborah P. Britzman
  • York University, Toronto
Andrew Ortony
  • Northwestern University
Henry Armand Giroux
  • McMaster University