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Going Beyond Education Policy to Solve Problems in Schools Abraham Maslow wrote “If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.” In the United States, public education is our hammer, and every social problem looks like a nail. From poverty and racism to poor nutrition and child neglect, public schools are asked to identify and solve virtually every social ill we have created and let fester.
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Beyond Accommodating Disability in the Classroom: Should Our Goal be Embodiment, Disembodiment, or Something In-Between? When we think about “accommodating” disability in the classroom, our objective should not be pure disembodiment—where the body you show up in, to teach or to learn, is irrelevant—but embodiment: learning environments and experiences that have been constructed to invite, see, and explicitly affirm all bodies. This is true in both physical classrooms and online learning environments. Several years ago, I began exploring my identity and experiences as a disabled classroom teacher, leaning heavily on “embodied vulnerability” as conceptualized by Dominique C. Hill. However, never had I felt as embodied, or as vulnerable, as when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Suddenly, though my disability was known to my colleagues and students, the school’s policies around COVID-19 caused me (and disabled and chronically ill colleagues and students) to experience a new “discrepancy between body and world,” what Rosemarie Garland-Thomson calls “misfitting”: like the college students described by Parsloe and Smith, we were marked as Other and “less-than-ideal,” with our needs for accommodation framed as “problem[s] of [our] individual bodies.”
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Platform Studies in Education One of the most significant changes to education in the last decade is the proliferation of platform technologies in teaching, learning, and administration. Even before a pandemic accelerated schools’ adoption of platforms for online instruction, educators relied on such technologies to share assignments and synthesize data (Google Classroom), manage classroom behavior (ClassDojo), monitor school devices (GoGuardian), assess student learning (Kahoot), communicate with families (SeeSaw), and supplement instruction (Khan Academy). According to one study, in 2019 US districts accessed, on average, over 700 digital platforms each month. As of 2021, this number has doubled.
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How Schools Stay the Same: A Study of White Parent Opposition to Ethnic Studies Ethnic Studies, an interdisciplinary curriculum and pedagogy that centers the insights of Black, Indigenous, and minoritized peoples, has become one of several targets of predominantly white parent opposition. Such opposition is not new. Yet these recent attacks represent an illustrative case for understanding the shifting dynamics of education politics and policymaking in the US and how and why schools stay the same.
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Pedagogies for Spiritual Development? Canadian–Muslim Educators Share Insights Most expressions of education in North America center normative conceptions of the human being who teaches and learns as a composite construction of embodied cognitions and emotions. But do we have spiritual dimensions, too? Expressions of education centering the spiritual are proliferating, including those originating in Islamic traditions. Over the past decade, Islamic education has been evolving in formal K–12 Islamic schools and informal weekend schools and expressed in centers at the Universities of Cambridge (CMC), South Australia (CITE), Warwick, University College London (CEMC) and dedicated institutions like Bayan Islamic Graduate School and Zaytuna College.
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More Veteran Students Attended For-Profit Colleges Since the Post-9/11 GI Bill For-profit colleges enroll a disproportionately large number of veteran students relative to public and private nonprofit colleges; the imbalance has been reinforced since the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2009. In a new study published in Harvard Education Review, Liang Zhang, a professor of higher education at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, finds that since the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, a greater proportion of veterans attended for-profit institutions instead of public institutions; and at the same time, they attended colleges in more expensive locations.
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We Need You to Keep Pressing Toward Justice amid Policies and Practices Designed to Maintain Inequity Education, educators, and the truth about the ugly roots and maintenance of all types of inequity are under attack in the United States. I increasingly hear from families, community members, policymakers, students, and educators sharing their discouragement, uneasiness, and fear about policies and practices designed to maintain inequity. From a Tennessee school board that banned Maus, the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, to states implementing policies against classroom discussion about the legacy of racism in America, it’s a hard time for teachers to explain history and contemporary challenges while balancing demands from stakeholders who increasingly police what they believe students should learn.
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Re-centering Ethics in Higher Education The present moment is a baffling one for public colleges and universities. How can they protect academic freedom and tenure, respect freedom of speech, and maintain productive relationships with state legislatures? How can college and university leaders respond to legislative pressure to avoid “divisive concepts” while not infringing upon the academic freedom of faculty who research and teach about race, sex, gender, and other concepts being targeted as “divisive”? How can public universities prepare students to enter professions—especially teaching—in which these concepts are not only unavoidable but necessary?
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Using a Continuous Improvement Approach to Help More High School Students Succeed As students returned to in-person learning this past fall after months of remote schooling, high school educators have faced particular challenges. Half of the students at these schools were personally unknown to faculty. Both ninth and tenth graders were entering the building and meeting teachers face-to-face for the first time.
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Language, Dignity, and Educational Rights For all our efforts to describe and measure language in educational research and policy, I always come back to the words of a pair of Nobel laureates. In her Nobel lecture (hyperlink), novelist and essayist Toni Morrison exalted language as a conduit of human experience and potential, stating “The vitality of language lies in its ability to limn the actual, imagined and possible lives of its speakers, readers, writers” (1993, para. 18). In this vein, Nobel Peace Prize winning Indigenous rights activist Rigoberta Menchú wrote on the occasion of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights (hyperlink) that “language is the vehicle that permits thought to be in accordance with the knowledge and the world vision of a given culture, of a given people . . . In language lies the main weapon of resistance of those cultures which for centuries have suffered the imposition of alien cultural values . . .” (1996, p. 17). Taken together, these quotes remind me that languaging—the holistic repertoire of practices and features used for verbal and nonverbal communication (hyperlink)—is a feature of fundamental personhood and humanity. It is through our languaging that we express our ideas and emotions, and through languaging that we can both affirm and transcend our social groupings, rich with their histories, values, and knowledge.
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