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Edited by Becky Shelley, Kitty te Riele, Natalie Brown and Tess Crellin

The transformative power of education is widely recognised. Yet, harnessing the transformative power of education is complex for exactly those people and communities who would benefit the most. Much scholarship is available describing the ways in which educational access, opportunity and outcomes are unequally distributed; and much scholarship is dedicated to analysing and critiquing the ‘problems’ of education.

This volume gratefully builds on such analysis, to take a more constructive stance: examining how to better enable education to fulfil its promise of transforming lives.

Harnessing the Transformative Power of Education returns overall to a broader language of educational change rather than reduce our sense of scale and scope of ‘transformation’ to what might be measured in or by schools. It offers a series of practical, local but system wide and socially responsible practices, policies and analyses to support the ways that education can work at its best. The projects described here vary in scale and scope but are rooted in a wider sense of community and social responsibility so that education is considered as a necessary sustainable process to ensure productive futures for all.

Its contributors include not only scholars, but also professional experts and young people. The book’s aim is to share and advance authentic possibilities for enabling all children and young people to flourish through the transformative power of education.

Educating Media Literacy

The Need for Critical Media Literacy in Teacher Education

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Allison T. Butler

Critical media literacy is a necessary part of young people’s education and can foster the space for a more thoroughly informed and involved citizenry. In order to make critical media literacy sustainable in K-12 classrooms, learning and application of it must begin with teachers, preferably during their formal schooling. Educating Media Literacy is a manifesto for the inclusion of media literacy in teacher education and, by extension, in K-12 classrooms. Through a discussion of critical media literacy’s aims and the role of teacher education in the United States, this book argues for the inclusion of critical media literacy in teacher education.

Educating Media Literacy addresses two separate topics – teacher education and media literacy – and illustrates how they are intertwined: The United States struggles simultaneously with how best to train and retain prospective teachers and how to foster a better understanding of mainstream media. These two struggles can join forces and move towards a solution through the following: The inclusion of critical media literacy in teacher education programs.

The High Stakes of Testing

Exploring Student Experience with Standardized Assessment through Governmentality

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Amy L. Kelly

Standardized assessments have long been part of the educative experience for students around the world. The high-stakes nature of these tests can have damaging and enduring effects for public school systems, particularly the youth. With the adoption of Common Core State Standards and mandated state-wide accountability measures, high-stakes tests, like the PARCC, gained quick and controversial notoriety.

The high-stakes discourse has been dominated by politicians, educators, and parents. Notably absent from this dialogue are the voices of those whom are impacted the most: students. Largely influenced by Critical Pedagogy, this research sheds light on the negative, punitive, and often arbitrary nature of testing in schools. The paramount intention of this publication is to raise awareness of student experiences and perspectives of standardized testing.

The High Stakes of Testing analyzes the experiences, relationships, thoughts, ideas, and opinions students have with standardized assessment measures. Interviews with seven students in Grades 3, 5, and 8 are examined through a governmentality lens to reveal the ways in which the youth are manipulated, regulated, and disciplined to view standardized testing as a natural part of what it means to be a public-school student. It is only when we can begin to see and appreciate how our youth interact with the omnipresent testing in our public schools can we begin to envision changing these accountability practices.

Improving Early Literacy Outcomes

Curriculum, Teaching, and Assessment

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Edited by Nic Spaull and John Comings

Learning to read and write for meaning and pleasure are arguably the two most important competences that children acquire in primary school. Yet, in 2019 more than one half of children worldwide do not reach this first rung on the literacy ladder. Improving Early Literacy Outcomes aims to address this head-on, by foregrounding the work of more than 40 researchers, most of them living in, and working on, developing countries.

Their contributions illuminate, magnify, and discover anew the importance of improving early reading, through precise alignment of curriculum, teaching, and assessment, and with a special focus on some of the most under-studied countries in the world (e.g., Burkina Faso, Niger, and Senegal).

Through probing analyses of research, policy, and practice, the book highlights the common experiences of high aspirations repeatedly confronting harsh realities. Sixteen interconnected chapters cast an ever-vigilant and deflationary eye on the temptation to take an unrealistic approach to early literacy, and also caution against lumping all languages, contexts, and policy-challenges into a single heap.

This book provides an indispensable guide to policymakers, practitioners, educators, and academics working towards the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Improving the teaching, learning, and assessment of early grade literacy is key not only to expanding the quality, access, and equity of education, but also to unlocking all the other SDGs, and ultimately to driving development.

The Imaginationless Generation

Lessons from Ancient Culture on Regulating New Media

Nachshon Goltz and Tracey Dowdeswell

In the present-day Tower of Babylon—the all-encompassing virtual world built of image layered upon image—children are the most vulnerable users. If we permit them unfettered access to media that promotes corporate and consumer values, while suppressing their cognitive development and creative imagination, then an ‘imaginationless generation’ may be our grim and inevitable future.

This book takes the reader, whether an academic, a parent or an educator, through a startling journey from the harms lurking in the virtual worlds—to children’s health and well-being, to how they deal with representations of violence and sexuality, as well as exposure to cyberbullying, advertising, Internet Addiction Disorder, and even exploitation. The most dangerous harm is unseen, and affects the innermost realm of a child’s psyche: the imagination. The authors discuss the current global regulatory framework that makes the protection of children ever more challenging. They discuss lessons learned from the ways that courts have negotiated free speech issues, as well as the research on parental mediation of children’s Internet use in the home. Finally, they move towards a bold new attempt at understanding regulation, by drawing lessons for new media from ancient culture.

In The Imagionationless Generation, the authors pioneer an attempt to address the real harms that children face in virtual realities by presenting a new and paradigm shifting theory—the Media Engagement. They follow the theory’s insights and predictions to offer a new perspective on a burning question of our time—how to protect children online. This multidisciplinary intellectual voyage and its insights are only possible by standing on the shoulders of scholars who have gone before, such as Ellul, Baudrillard, McLuhan, Postman and Piaget, to name a few.

As academics, parents and concerned human beings, the authors present here the results of more than twenty years of research in a way that should appeal to a wide variety of readers, as they stretch our understanding of the human-machine interface beyond right and wrong. This book shapes our understanding of media in the digital age in much the same way that McLuhan’s Understanding Media did for a previous generation.

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Edited by Sue Vella, Ruth Falzon and Andrew Azzopardi

The study of wellbeing is not new. Over two millennia ago, the Ancient Greeks were already debating different conceptions of the good life, and how it may be fostered, albeit a debate for the privileged in ancient Greek society. More recently, the post-WWII concern with economic scarcity gave way – as prosperity rose in the later 20th century – to values such as personal growth and social inclusion. In parallel, research has increasingly turned its focus to wellbeing, going beyond traditional measures of income, wealth and employment. Greater attention is now paid to the subjective experience of wellbeing which, it is broadly agreed, has many dimensions such as life satisfaction, optimal functioning and a good quality of life.

Perspectives on Wellbeing: A Reader brings together a number of chapters that examine wellbeing from different disciplinary perspectives. A number of the chapters take the angle of human flourishing, looking at the respective contributions of belonging, emotional resilience, spirituality, prosocial behaviour, literacy and leisure. Others look at wellbeing through a social relations lens, including family relations, youth, persons with disability and gender. Finally, a chapter on wellbeing and economics illustrates different approaches to measuring wellbeing and identifying its determinants. The book concludes with a chapter that argues for the enduring importance of the welfare state if the wellbeing of all is to be ensured.

This book is likely to be of interest to both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the social sciences as well as to a general readership.

Contributors are: Angela Abela, Andrew Azzopardi, Paul Bartolo, Marie Briguglio, Amy Camilleri Zahra, Joanne Cassar, Marilyn Clark, Ruth Falzon, Vickie Gauci, Ingrid Grech Lanfranco, Natalie Kenely, Mary Anne Lauri, Marceline Naudi, Claudia Psaila, Clarissa Sammut Scerri, Sandra Scicluna Calleja, Barbara Stelmaszek, Sue Vella, and Val Williams.

Edited by Merja Paksuniemi and Pigga Keskitalo

Over the last decade, Finland’s educational system has become internationally recognised. Different countries have shown an interest in learning about the Finnish education system to gain a better understanding of how education is developed, planned and executed in that country. The Introduction to the Finnish Educational System aims to describe how the education system in Finland was built and what kind of aspects influence learning and teaching today. The authors of the chapters are academics and experts in the fields of teacher education or vocational education. The book presents a review of the historical and current aspects of the educational system of Finland. As such, it describes the learning path from compulsory education to vocational education and primary school teacher education, which is one of the main focuses of the Faculty of Education at the University of Lapland. Each chapter is based on its authors’ research results, which are adapted for inclusion in this book. It answers an international call to provide an in-depth description of the National Finnish Education System from its beginning to today and to discuss the practical implications of these measures.

Contributors are: Heikki Ervast, Marjaana Kangas, Pigga Keskitalo, Otso Kortekangas, Minna Körkkö, Outi Kyrö-Ämmälä, Pertti Lakkala, Suvi Lakkala, Merja Paksuniemi, Rauna Rahko-Ravantti, Päivi Rasi, and Heli Ruokamo.

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Edited by Annie Guerin and Trish McMenamin

In Belonging: Rethinking Inclusive Practices to Support Well-Being and Identity, issues related to inclusive education and belonging across a range of education contexts from early childhood to tertiary education are examined and matters related to participation, policy and theory, and identity and well-being are explored. Individual chapters, which are drawn from papers presented at The Inclusive Education Summit held at the University of Canterbury, 2016, canvass a variety of topics including pedagogy, sexuality, theory, policy and practice. These topics are explored from the authors’ varying perspectives as practitioners, academics and lay-persons and also from varying international perspectives including New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

Contributors are: Keith Ballard, Henrietta Bollinger, Hera Cook, Michael Gafffney, Annie Guerin, Fiona Henderson, Leechin Heng, Kate McAnelly, Trish McMenamin, Be Pannell, Christine Rietveld, Marie Turner, Ben Whitburn, Julie White, and Melanie Wong.

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Mijung Kim and Wolff-Michael Roth

Science educators have come to recognize children’s reasoning and problem solving skills as crucial ingredients of scientific literacy. As a consequence, there has been a concurrent, widespread emphasis on argumentation as a way of developing critical and creative minds. Argumentation has been of increasing interest in science education as a means of actively involving students in science and, thereby, as a means of promoting their learning, reasoning, and problem solving. Many approaches to teaching argumentation place primacy on teaching the structure of the argumentative genre prior to and at the beginning of participating in argumentation. Such an approach, however, is unlikely to succeed because to meaningfully learn the structure (grammar) of argumentation, one already needs to be competent in argumentation. This book offers a different approach to children’s argumentation and reasoning based on dialogical relations, as the origin of internal dialogue (inner speech) and higher psychological functions. In this approach, argumentation first exists as dialogical relation, for participants who are in a dialogical relation with others, and who employ argumentation for the purpose of the dialogical relation. With the multimodality of dialogue, this approach expands argumentation into another level of physicality of thinking, reasoning, and problem solving in classrooms. By using empirical data from elementary classrooms, this book explains how argumentation emerges and develops in and from classroom interactions by focusing on thinking and reasoning through/in relations with others and the learning environment.

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Edited by Hans Christian Arnseth, Thorkild Hanghøj, Thomas Duus Henriksen, Morten Misfeldt, Robert Ramberg and Staffan Selander

We live in a time of educational transformations towards more 21st century pedagogies and learning. In the digital age children and young people need to learn critical thinking, creativity and innovation and the ability to solve complex problems and challenges. Traditional pedagogies are in crisis and many pupils experience school as both boring and irrelevant. As a response educators and researchers need to engage in transforming education through the invention of new designs in and for learning. This book explores how games can provide new ideas and new designs for future education. Computer games have become hugely popular and engaging, but as is apparent in this book, games are not magical solutions to making education more engaging, fun and relevant.

Games and Education explores new designs in and for learning and offer inspiration to teachers, technologists and researchers interested in changing educational practices. Based on contributions from Scandinavian researchers, the book highlights participatory approaches to research and practice by providing more realistic experiences and models of how games can facilitate learning in school.