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Learning Science

A Singular Plural Perspective


Wolff-Michael Roth

How do you intend (to learn, know, see) something that you do not yet know? Given the theory-laden nature of perception, how do you perceive something in a science demonstration that requires knowing the very theory that you are to learn? In this book, the author provides answers to these and other (intractable) problems of learning in science. He uses both first-person, phenomenological methods, critically analyzing his own experiences of learning in unfamiliar situations and third-person, ethnographic methods, critically analyzing the learning of students involved in hands-on investigations concerning motion and static electricity.
Roth continues his longstanding interest in understanding how we learn science and the question why all the changes to science education made over the past five decades have a significant impact of increasing understanding and interest in the subject. Roth articulates in his concluding chapter that the problem lies in part with the theories of learning employed—in the course of his biographical experience, he has appropriated and abandoned numerous theoretical frameworks, including (radical, social) constructivism, because they fell short when it came to understand real-time processes in school science classrooms.
This book, which employs the cognitive phenomenological method described in the recently published Doing Qualitative Research: Praxis of Method (SensePublishers, 2005), has been written for all those who are interested in learning science: undergraduate students preparing for a career in science teaching, graduate students interested in the problems of teaching and learning of science, and faculty members researching and teaching in science education.


Bev France and John Gilbert

This book incorporates two major themes into a model for communication about biotechnology. The first is that of a communicating community, defined as a relatively coherent social group engaging in communication within itself. As biotechnologists do not constitute a unitary group, this book refers to biotechnology communities. Similarly, the broad notion of ‘the public’ is considered to be inadequate, and the notion of distinct public communities is used. The members of each community are considered to have a view of biotechnology made up of their understandings of the nature of science of biotechnology, understandings of the key concepts and models used in biotechnology, perceptions of the nature of risk, and beliefs and attitudes about biotechnology. The second major theme is that of search space. This is the intersection, in a virtual arena, of the components of the ‘views’ of two communities. Where there are elements that are in common to the two, communication in terms of them is possible. Where there is no commonality, the degrees of understanding reached must be used to construct a mutual understanding that may evolve into an agreement.

Edited by Jürgen Maasz and Wolfgang Schlöglmann

Mathematics education research has blossomed into many different areas which we can see in the programmes of the ICME conferences as well as in the various survey articles in the Handbooks. However, all of these lines of research are trying to grapple with a common problem, the complexity of the process of learning mathematics. Although our knowledge of the process is more extensive and deeper despite the fragmented nature of research in this area, there is still a need to overcome this fragmentation and to see learning as one process with different aspects. To overcome this fragmentation, this book identifies six themes: (1) mathematics, culture and society, (2) the structure of mathematics and its influence on the learning process, (3) mathematics learning as a cognitive process, (4) mathematics learning as a social process, (5) affective conditions of the mathematics learning process, (6) new technologies and mathematics learning. This book is addressed to all researchers in mathematic education. It gives an orientation and overview by addressing some carefully chosen questions on what is going on and what are the main results and questions what are important books or papers if further information is needed.

Politics, Bildung and Social Justice

Perspectives for a Democratic Society


Heinz Sünker

When the future of mankind is at stake the question of Bildung has to be brought to the fore. Because Bildung, a term which has no equivalent in English is dealing with the foundations of emancipation and liberation in both meanings an individual and a societal one.
Bildung aims at maturity, reflexivity, social judgment, aesthetic and political consciousness and competence of action.
The book analyses the different traditions and approaches relevant for the development of the question of conceptualizing Bildung.
Especially the emphasis on ‘maturity’; political consciousness’ and ‘competence of action’ is a useful one when dealing with the democratic tradition as the alternative to contemporary attemps of neoliberalism leading to the rule of economy and the decline of the public.
The western marxist reading of Bildung in this book shows possibilities of renewing democracy and democratic lives in line with core elements of Bildung including autonomy, self-determination and social regulation. Corrresponding with Critical Theory, especially the work of Th. W. Adorno, Bildungs is seen as the tool to defend democracy.
The book is intended for graduate students and academics in educational theory, critical pedagogy, politics, sociology and philosophy.

Reading, Writing, and Thinking

The Postformal Basics


Paul L. Thomas and Joe Kincheloe

In a world gone mad with standardized curricula and the degradation of the profession of teaching, P. L. Thomas and Joe Kincheloe attempt to bring sanity back to the discussion of the teaching of some of the basic features of the educational process. In Reading, Writing, and Thinking: The Postformal Basics the authors take on the “rational irrationality” of current imperial pedagogical practices, providing readers with provocative insights into the bizarre assumptions surrounding the contemporary teaching of reading, writing, and thinking. The authors are obsessed with producing an accessible book for multiple audiences—parents, teachers, scholars of education—that moves beyond critique to a new domain of the social and educational imagination. Readers of Thomas’ and Kincheloe’s book embark on a mind trip beginning with “what is” and moving to the realm of “what could be.” In this context they introduce readers to a critical theory of thinking—postformalism—that moves the social and educational conversation to a new terrain of individual and social consciousness.
Tired of the same educational policies and “solutions” in the teaching of reading, writing, and thinking, the authors become socio-psychic explorers who move readers past the boundaries of contemporary pedagogical perception.


Edited by Deborah Tidwell and Linda Fitzgerald

Self-study and Diversity is a book about self-study of teaching and teacher education with equity and access as focal issues of practice. Chapters in this book have a shared orientation to diversity grounded in the acknowledgement that educators have a responsibility to address equity and access issues inherent in teaching. To that end, individual chapters address such areas of diversity as race, ethnicity, gender, disability, and power, as well as broader areas of social justice, multiculturalism, and ways of knowing. Even though the focus in a chapter may be on one particular dimension of diversity, the dilemmas and responses of a teacher educator, elicited through self-study, can apply well beyond that immediate context. This broadens the appeal of the book beyond the self-study community and beyond specific issues of diversity, to people interested in teaching in general and in the process of improving practice. An additional strength of this book is the inclusion in each chapter of information regarding the use of particular strategies, both for self-study and for teaching for diversity. A separate index of these suggested research and teaching practices will direct the reader to specific chapters.

Teaching to Learn

A View from the Field


Edited by Kenneth Tobin and Wolff-Michael Roth

A recurrent trope in education is the gap that exists between theory, taught at the university, and praxis, what teachers do in classrooms. How might one bridge this inevitable gap if new teachers are asked to learn (to talk) about teaching rather than to teach? In response to this challenging question, the two authors of this book have developed coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing, two forms of praxis that allow very different stakeholders to teach and subsequently to reflect together about their teaching. The authors have developed these forms of praxis not by theorizing and then implementing them, but by working at the elbow of new and experienced teachers, students, supervisors, and department heads.
Coteaching, which occurs when two or more teachers teach together, supports learning to teach while improving student achievement. Cogenerative dialogues are conversations among all those who have been present in a lesson; they ensure that what was learned while coteaching is beneficial for all coteachers and learners. Tobin and Roth describe the many ways coteaching and cogenerative dialogues are used to improve learning environments—dramatically improving teaching and learning across cultural borders defined by race, ethnicity, gender, and language.
Teaching to Learn is written for science educators and teacher educators along the professional continuum: new and practicing teachers, graduate students, professors, researchers, curriculum developers, evaluation consultants, science supervisors, school administrators, and policy makers. Thick ethnographic descriptions and specific suggestions provide readers access to resources to get started and continue their journeys along a variety of professional trajectories.

Twenty-first Century Schools

Knowledge, Networks and New Economies


Gerard MacDonald and David Hursh

Contemporary school systems are not working well. Educational solutions abound, but the problems remain. This is because our school systems are not primarily concerned with education. Their driving forces are political and economic. Any systemic solution to schooling’s current difficulties will start with politics; not, in any conventional sense, with education. Twenty-first Century Schools traces the extension of political control over Britain’s school system and, through US case studies, looks at alternative methods of organisation. The authors argue that Anglo-American school systems provide a good education for a small minority and, to the majority, offer inadequate schooling. Though this has always been inequitable it may, in the past, have been economically efficient, at least from the viewpoint of the state. If that was once true for mercantile and industrial economies, it is not true now. The knowledge economies toward which the UK and US are moving demand a continuing ability to learn, and to innovate, right across the workforce. Our time-honoured tradition of anachronistic curricula, didactically taught, does not develop these qualities. For those reasons the current Anglo-American drive to entrench unequal educational opportunity is at once economically, politically and socially misconceived.
From these premises, Twenty-first Century Schools goes on to outline the political and educational changes needed to shape school systems which are socially and economically adapted to the new century.

Undead Theories

Constructivism, Eclecticism and Research in Education

David Geelan

Theory is dead. . . long live theory! In this collection of linked essays, David Geelan explores the contentious relationship between theory and research in education. The first chapter proclaims the 'death of theory' in educational research, but the remainder of the book explores a number of the ways in which theory survives and thrives. A commitment to conducting educational research that directly serves students and teachers, and that changes the life in classrooms through negotiation and collaboration, not through prescription, requires new tools and new ways of using them. Such tools include narrative modes of conducting and representing research as well as a 'disciplined eclecticism' that emphasises choosing and using competing theories in intentional ways. Metaphorical descriptions from the philosophy of science - particularly Kuhn and Popper - have been influential in science education. David explores the value of such perspectives, and argues that although they have offered important insights for science education, their use has also 'forced other perspectives into blindness’. In the contexts of research methodology, educational philosophy, science education and educational technology, David talks about new 'places to stand and ways to look' but, more importantly, gives specific examples of the ways in which these methodological tools and philosophical perspectives have been used in his own teaching and research practices.

Women Principals in a Multicultural Society

New Insights into Feminist Educational Leadership

Edited by Izhar Oplatka and Rachel Hertz-Lazarowitz

The book analyzes the crossing issues of gender, school leadership and multicultural experiences as expressed in accounts of female school principals from diverse ethnic and religious groups in the multicultural society of Israel. It addresses the usually unheard voices of women principals in ethnic and religious minority groups that act and live in a modern country but their place is marginalized. Jewish and Moslem Authors, all citizens of Israel, display the particular life and career accounts of female principals from the Arab, Bedouin, Kibbutzim, liberal and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups. They are accompanied by authors from Canada, Hong-Kong and England who suggest a multicultural and post-structuralist feminist views to look at female leadership in the multicultural society. In this sense, they book contributes to our understanding of the influence of cultural scripts and values on women principals’ leadership styles and career development, as well as suggest an alternative way to interpret dominant feminist conceptualizations of female leadership. The book may be of interest for researchers in the fields of education, feminism, women management, multiculturalism, Israel studies and minorities. Educators of a higher level such as principals, supervisors and policy makers as well as graduate students will find the book chapters very contributing to their work and studies.