David Ian Walker and Stephen J. Thoma
At core, moral and character education aims to develop the moral person. How this end state develops has been hindered by interest from different theoretical positions, differences between practitioners and theoreticians, different assumptions about how far character is educable, and associated measurement problems. Traditionally, moral education is concerned with the interpretation and strategies one uses to understand moral phenomenon and defines the moral person as a predominantly thinking entity, whereas character education emphasizes the development of habits and dispositions as a precondition for the moral person. Current interest is in finding commonalities across these traditions towards the achievement of human flourishing. These points of intersection have often been overlooked, but current work is demonstrating the importance of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches for practitioners, researchers and policymakers.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
In the last century, Piaget’s constructivism theory influenced deeply the study of human development. Despite the progressive loss of influence of his theory, some contemporary perspectives based on his ideas have enriched the understanding of human development: neo-Piagetian perspective, theory of mind, embodied cognition, and representational redescription.
Thanks to the information-processing perspective, functional and executive components of cognition have been progressively integrated into Piaget’s theory. Concepts such as reflexive abstraction or self-regulation, already present in Piaget’s theory, have been developed and have transformed the traditional Piagetian point of view about cognitive development. This new perspective, defended by Pascual-Leone and Case among others, has been called “neo-Piagetian theory.” It offers a more dynamic way to understand cognitive development. Research on theory of mind has contributed to a better understanding of the development of children’s capacity to infer others’ mental states, an important aspect of cognitive and social development. Piaget analyzed how children become progressively less egocentric and more able to understand other perspectives, but these ideas have been deeply transformed and developed in the theory of mind perspective by authors such as Perner, Leslie, or Astington. From the embodied cognition perspective, the main role of the body is taken into account to understand the characteristics of cognition, a nuclear idea of Piaget’s constructivism that has been developed more accurately by some researchers (Varela, Lakoff, Damasio, among others). Finally, a more precise explanation of cognitive development than Piaget’s has been proposed by Karmiloff-Smith through the concept of “representational redescription.” This process describes how representations change along with development. These representational changes contribute to a more conscious and flexible way of thinking. All these theoretical approaches, grounded in Piaget’s theory, achieve a more diverse and dynamic way to understand human development.
Cheryl E. Matias, Naomi W. Nishi, and Geneva L. Sarcedo
A litany of literature exists on teacher preparation programs, known as teacher education, and whiteness, which is the historical, systematic, and structural processes that maintain the race-based superiority of white people over people of color. The theoretical frameworks of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) are used to explore whiteness and teacher education separately; whiteness within teacher education; the impact of teacher education and whiteness on white educators, educators of Color, and their students; and cautions and recommendations for teacher education and whiteness.
Although teacher education and whiteness are situated within the current US sociopolitical context, the historical colonial contexts of other countries may find parallel examples of whiteness. Within this context, the historical purposes behind teacher education and the need for quality teachers in an increasingly diverse student population are identified using transdisciplinary approaches in CRT and CWS to define and describe operations of whiteness in teacher education. Particularly, race education scholars entertain the psychoanalytic, philosophical, and sociological ruminations of race, racism, and white supremacy in society and education to understand more fully how whiteness operates within teacher education. For example, an analysis of psychological attachments found in racial identities, particularly between whiteness and Blackness, helps to fully comprehend racial dynamics between teachers, who are overwhelmingly racially identified as white, and students, who are predominantly racially identified as of Color.
Whiteness in teacher education, left intact, ultimately affects K-12 schooling and students, particularly students of Color, in ways that recycle institutionalized white supremacy in schooling practices. Acknowledging how reinforcing hegemonic whiteness in teacher education ultimately reifies institutional white supremacy in education altogether; implications and cautions as well as recommendations are offered to debunk the hegemonic whiteness that inoculates teacher education.
Note: To symbolically reverse the racial hierarchy in our research, the authors opt to use lowercase lettering for white and whiteness, and to capitalize “people of Color” to recognize it as a proper noun along with Black and Brown.