Marina Schwimmer and Kevin McDonough
Mindfulness meditation is a growing social phenomenon in Western countries and is now also becoming a common part of life in public schools. The concept of mindfulness originated in Buddhist thinking and meditation practices over 2,500 years ago. Its original purpose was mainly to alleviate people’s suffering by providing a path to inner wisdom and vitality, which implied the development of compassion, patience, and forgiveness, as well as other values conducive to inner peace. In the 1970s, this practice was popularized in the West as it was adapted to and integrated with secular intervention programs aimed at reducing stress and dealing with chronic pain.
Packages promoting mindfulness practices are disseminated commercially, backed by research in neuroscience and developmental psychology, for use in schools through programs like MindUp and Mindful Schools. In recent years, there has been a marked uptick of interest from educational researchers in mindfulness education. Several distinct research orientations or approaches can be discerned—mindfulness-based intervention (MBI), an instrumental approach that views mindfulness practices in clinical or therapeutic terms; a spiritualist approach, which emphasizes the rootedness of MBIs in ancient religious traditions and focuses on the benefits of mindfulness practices for individual spiritual growth; and a political approach, which highlights the potential benefits of MBIs to develop students’ capacities for democratic deliberation and participation.
Contemporary mindfulness education in schools also sometimes reflects the cultural influence of New Age values, an orientation distinct from the instrumental, spiritualist, and political approaches, and whose impact may raise troubling questions about the purported educational benefits of MBIs. Accordingly, the alliance between New Age values, neoliberal economic and cultural values, and mindfulness practices in contemporary democratic societies and schools should be given due consideration in assessing the relative educational costs and benefits of MBIs. In particular, cultural and educational values at the intersection of neoliberal values entrepreneurialism and New Age values of personal and spiritual growth may have corrosive rather than benevolent effects on the pursuit of democratic values in schools.
Eva Zygmunt, Kristin Cipollone, Patricia Clark, and Susan Tancock
Community-engaged teacher preparation is an innovative paradigm through which to prepare socially just, equity-focused teachers with the capacity to enact pedagogies that are culturally relevant, responsive, and sustaining. Operationalized through candidates’ situated learning in historically marginalized communities, this approach emphasizes the concerted cultivation of collaborative relationships among universities, communities, and schools; the elevation of funds of knowledge and community cultural wealth; and an in-depth analysis of social inequality and positionality, and the intersections between the two, as essential knowledge for future teachers. As a means through which to address the persistent achievement gap between racially, socioeconomically, and linguistically nondominant and dominant students, community-engaged teacher preparation is a prototype through which to advance educational equity.
Bruce G. Barnett
The growing economic and employment disparities between members of different socioeconomic groups often paint a bleak future for people living in marginalized communities. These conditions are reflected in many low-performing urban schools where dropouts, behavioral problems, and poor academic performance prevail. In the United States, large numbers of adolescents have a sense of hopelessness, particularly among racial and ethnic minority groups. Despite these challenging circumstances, school leaders are well positioned to build these urban students’ hope for a bright future. Using hope theory—goal development, agency, and pathways—as a foundation, the article describes ways school leaders can become agents of hope, which is reinforced by research from an international study of leadership in low-performing schools. The article concludes by examining how leadership preparation and development programs can influence aspiring and practicing school leaders’ capacities to become agents of hope.
Troy A. Martin
The professionalization of education involves a modern, capitalist move toward securing a public market for schools and developing social status for educators. As a process that has produced knowledge, rationalized relationships, and controlled markets, professionalization of education has also defined an ethical discourse. Articulated in language, inscribed in state law, and embodied in conduct, professional ethics have been codified formally in “codes of ethics” and informally in professional identity and ways of thinking. The popular discourse of professional ethics in education narrows and constrains ethical possibility in practice.
Because of similar forms of codes of ethics across professions, interdisciplinary scholarship from education, social work, psychiatry, and medicine informs a critical examination of professional ethics. The codes, discourse, and standards of professional ethics are historically grounded in the framework of modern rationalism. As the field of education has developed to include a more diverse knowledge-base and new forms of empirical research, the rational order of prescriptive ethics has begun to slip. While regulatory codes of ethics continue to undergird public trust and provide legal insurance against malfeasance, educational scholars and practitioners engage a wider constellation of ethical perspectives and possibilities. Feminist care ethics, post-modern ethics, and phenomenological descriptive ethics present a few possibilities within emergent fields. As the ongoing effects of professionalization are critiqued and the possibilities of professional ethics are re-imagined, schools of education should look beyond the disciplinary enclosures of education to respond to an increasingly diffuse understanding of professional ethics.
Garden-based education is a philosophical orientation to teaching and learning that uses gardens as the milieu for student engagement through meaningful and relevant curricular and instructional integration in schools. In addition to their direct academic appeal in raising test scores and grades, particularly in science, language arts, and math, gardens on educational campuses, spanning pre-school through high school, are also utilized by educators for a variety of other outcomes. These include motivational engagement; social, moral, and emotional development; strengthening of institutional and community bonds; vocational skills development; food literacy; healthy eating habits; and holistic growth of children and youth. Moreover, garden-based education shows promise as a tangible and pragmatic solution to address problems of disaffection and disengagement among youth that has resulted in a school dropout crisis in many places. While specific to higher education, farm-based education and agriculture-based education that focus on growing food have parallel agendas. The vast array of outcomes linked with garden-based education may seem impressive. However, systematic research studies of garden-based education across sites to measure educational impact are missing, largely due to their marginalized status and the decentralized and localized nature of program implementation and professional training.
While the idea of including gardens on educational campuses to grow food or to serve as a means of outdoor and nature education is not new, since the 1990s, there has been a surge of interest in using garden-based education across countries and continents. With its accessibility on school grounds, garden-based education intersects with parallel movements such as outdoor education, place-based education, experiential education, nature-based education, environmental education, and sustainability education. Manifested in a variety of grassroots practices that include slow food, community supported agriculture, edible schoolyards, global roots, indigenous cultural gardens, learning gardens, lifelab, living classrooms, multicultural school gardens, urban harvest, and more, gardens will likely continue to be of significance in education as there are growing uncertainties globally about food security and health matters related to climate change. Despite high stakes, standardized tests, and accountability measures that pose challenges to educators and proponents of school gardens in public schools, research shows their promise as laboratories for innovation and academic learning. Garden-based education would benefit if informed by longitudinal and large-scale research studies that demonstrate instructional and curricular rigor and integration and impact on learning outcomes. Drawing on critical and posthumanist theories that question the nature of schooling, and explicitly addressing issues of race, class, and perspectives of marginalized and indigenous scholars and practitioners would bring further credence. Practice-embedded research and co-production of knowledge that accepts complexity and conjunctive thinking, while also addressing culturally responsive pedagogy across socio-economic status, would enhance the viability of this growing movement.
There is a growing awareness of the crucial role that trust plays in every aspect of a school’s functioning and especially to student outcomes. To trust another person or group is to be at ease, without anxiety or worry, in a situation of interdependence in which valued outcomes depend upon the participation and contribution of others. The trustor can rest assured that their expectations will be fulfilled based on confidence in the other party’s benevolence, honesty, openness, reliability, and competence. As citizens across the globe have become increasingly distrustful of their institutions and leaders, the trend away from trust creates a special challenge for schools because trust is so fundamental to their core mission of educating students. The philosopher Annette Baier observed that we tend to notice trust as we notice air, only when it becomes scarce or polluted. These days, it seems evident that trust in our society as a whole has indeed been disrupted and is in scarce supply. As contemporary society has grown more complex, as changing economic realities, changing demographics, and changing expectations in society have made life less predictable, we are beginning to notice trust much more. There are a number of things that make cultivating and maintaining trust in schools challenging. These include the effects of social media, and other new forms of information and the propensity for the news of potential threats to one’s well-being, as well as the well-being of one’s children and community to spread farther and faster than positive news.
Trust matters in schools and in our world because we cannot single-handedly either create or sustain many of the things we most cherish. Parents send their children to schools, trusting that they will be safe from harm, as well as guided and taught in keeping with our highest hopes for them. Schools are also invested with a significant share of a community’s collective resources in the form of tax dollars, school buildings, and local employment opportunities. In addition, schools are charged with keeping and promoting a society’s shared values and ideals. They foster and protect the collective ideals of respect, tolerance, and democracy, as well as the vision of equity of opportunity. Indeed, the future of a society rests with the quality of its schools. It is evident, then, why trust has become such a pressing issue for schools in these challenging and turbulent times.
“Decolonial philosophy of education” is an almost nonexistent term. Consequently, rigorous intellectual and scholarly conversations on education tend to be centered around a specific set of concepts and discourses that were (and still are) generated, picked up or analyzed by thinkers from a specific geographical and political space, such as Socrates, Rousseau, Dewey, Heidegger, and Foucault. This has led to the systemic ignoring and violating concepts and ideas generated from other spaces and lived through by other people.
This legacy can also be related to some philosophical aspirations for gaining total, hegemonic, and universal perceptions and representations often formulated by male Euro-American philosophers; when this intellectual passion for universality becomes coupled with or stays silent about imperial and expansionist ambitions, it can see itself implicated in creating assimilationist or genocidal practices: in education, the manifestation of universality associated with imperialism is observed in Indian residential schools. While the words education, literacy, curriculum, learning of languages, acquiring knowledge, school, school desks, and school buildings might normally echo positive vibes for many, it can make an aboriginal survivor of an Indian residential school shudder. It is furthermore hard to ignore the aspirations for a European/Universalist definition of human and man in the famous “Kill the Indian to save the child” policy of Indian Residential Schools. However, the likelihood of deeming such assimilationist attempts as benign acts of trial and error and as events external to philosophy is generally high. Therefore, the “colonial edge” of these philosophies are, more often than not, left unexamined.
This is the plane where decolonial philosopher dwell. They deliberate on essential key moments and discussions in philosophical thought that have either not been paused at enough or paused at all, and thereby question this lack of attention. There is an important reason for these intellectual halts practiced by decolonial philosophers. While these might seem to be abstract epistemic endeavors, decolonial philosophers see their work as practices of liberation that aim beyond disrupting the eminence of mainstream Euro-American philosophical thought. Through these interrogative pauses, they hope to intervene, overturn and restructure the philosophical, political and social imaginations in favor of the silenced, the ignored, the colonized, and the (epistemologically and physically) violated.
This article engages with certain key decolonial theses and is concerned with the hope of initiating and further expanding the dialogues of decolonization in the philosophy of education. The article will, however, stay away from adding new theses or theories to decolonial education. The author believes that this field, much like other paradigms, either can or will at some point suffer from theoretical exhaustion. Instead, it directs the readers to pause at some of the decisive moments discussed in decolonial theories.
Anna Hogan and Greg Thompson
In the literature, a range of terminology is used to describe the reorganization of public education. In much critical policy sociology the terms marketization, privatization, and commercialization are used interchangeably. Our argument is that each of these denotes distinct, albeit related, characteristics of contemporary schooling and the impact of the Global Education Industry (GEI). We define marketization as the series of policy logics that aim to create quasimarkets in education; privatization as the development of quasimarkets in education that privilege parental choice, school autonomy and venture philanthropy; and commercialization as the creation, marketing, and sale of educational goods and services to schools by external providers. We explain the manifestations of each of these forms and offer two cases of actors situated within the GEI, the OECD, and Pearson PLC, to outline how commercialization and privatization proceed at the level of policy and practice.
Authenticity is a concept with an impressive history in Western philosophy and a significant hold on the modern imagination. Inseparable from conceptions of truth and individual fulfillment, authenticity remains a powerful ideal, even as it eludes precise definition. Recently it has also become an organizing principle for many educational initiatives. Education, like authenticity, is opposed to dissimulation, ignorance, manipulation, and related states of misalignment between truth and experience. There is widespread enthusiasm for the promotion of authenticity across different types of education and in the personal identity of educators and students. Most of the scholarly literature pertaining to authenticity in education falls outside the scope of philosophical inquiry. But in all cases, the pursuit of authenticity in education rests on various philosophical assumptions about the nature of truth, reality, ethics, and, ultimately, the aims of education.
With the influence of Dewey and 20th-century progressive movements in education, authenticity entered the vernacular of educational theory and practice. Attention to the relationship between learning environments and the “real” world has generated pervasive commitments to authentic learning, authentic pedagogies, authentic curriculum, and authentic assessment practices. Here, “authenticity” is used to track the verisimilitude of an educational practice with respect to some external reality. It constitutes an ontological claim about levels of “reality,” as well as an epistemological attitude toward learning as the construction of knowledge. In this respect, authenticity intersects debates about constructivism and relativism in education. Likewise, teachers are exhorted to be authentic qua teachers, elevating their true selves above institutional anonymity as a key part of effective teaching. This phenomenon trades on the values of truthfulness and autonomy that are prized in Western modernity but also problematized in the personal identity and ethics literature. The authenticity of students has also been championed as an educational aim, even as the methods for eliciting authenticity in others have been criticized as self-defeating or culturally limiting. Personal authenticity stands in a contested relationship to autonomy, which has been promoted as the key aim of liberal education. The project of creating authentic people through education remains an intense site of research and debate, with important implications for educational ethics and liberal values.
Elisabet Öhrn and Gaby Weiner
The field known as gender and education emerged in the 1970s, and currently addresses a range of issues of equity and justice in education with the widespread incorporation of “intersectionality” (i.e., the interlocking nature of gender and other categorizations such as social class, race, ethnicity, sexualities, disability). The topics and practices constituting the field have changed over the years, as demonstrated in a survey by the authors of Gender and Education, the main journal of choice for those working in the field. Key topics addressed by researchers include patterns of examination achievement, curriculum and school practices, and the variety of femininities and masculinities produced with/in schooling and education. Overarching themes on the conduct of the field include decreased focus on practice and action, increased emphasis on theorization, critique of the dualisms on which the field is based (girl/boy, male/female, masculinity/femininity), and Anglophone and Western bias.