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Life History Research

Epistemology, Methodology and Representation

Edited by Michael Anthony Samuel, Rubby Dhunpath and Michael Samuel

Much has been written about lifehistory research in recent times. It has been paraded as a counterculture to the traditional research canon, and celebrated as a genre that promotes methodological pluralism. However, lifehistory researchers have an obligation to transcend spurious claims about the perceived merits of the methodology and extend the debates around how the genre simultaneously problematises and responds to the competing challenges of Epistemology, Methodology and Representation.
In conceiving of each of the chapters from an epistemological perspective, the authors focus on how their individual work has crossed or expanded traditional borders of epistemology and ontology; of how the work has satisfied the rigours of thesis production and contributed to changing conceptions of knowledge, what knowledge gets produced and how knowledge is produced when we make particular methodological choices.
Since any methodological orientation is invariably selective, and the researcher is always involved and implicated in the production of data, the authors focus on what selections they have made in their projects, what governed these choices, what benefits/deficits those choices yielded, and what the implications of their research are for those meta-narratives that have established the regimes of truth, legitimacy, and veracity in research.
Knowledge production is inextricably linked to representation. In the process of articulating their findings, each author made particular representational choices, sometimes transgressing conventional approaches. The book explores why these choices were made and how the choices influenced the kinds of knowledge generated. The book provides theoretical justifications for these transgressions and reflect on how the experience of representation helped disrupt the authors’ essentialist notions of research production and for whom it is produced.
This book is not another celebration of lifehistory as a counterculture. The book hopes to be a deeply critical contribution to disrupt notions around epistemological authority, voice and power and how these are mediated by the delicate relations of the researcher and researched. The problematises and complicates the assumptions that frame this genre with a view to highlighting the potential hazards of the method while demonstrating its potentiality in shaping our conceptions of Ethics, Methodology and Representation.

Organizing the Curriculum

Perspectives on Teaching the US Labor Movement

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Edited by Rob Linné, Leigh Benin and Adrienne Sosin

Contemporary American youth live in a culture that ignores or denigrates labor unions. Mainstream media cover labor issues only sparingly and unions no longer play much of a role in popular culture texts, films, or images. In our schools labor has been limited to a footnote in textbooks instead of being treated seriously as the most effective force for championing the rights of working people—the vast majority of the citizenry. Teachers have been convinced that to bring up class or to teach about the labor movement may be construed as “taking sides,” while the all-pervasive presence of corporate America in our schools is rarely questioned. So for all the talk of schools preparing young people for the work world, we are failing to teach them even the basics of how that world is structured or how they can be empowered through collective action.
Organizing the Curriculum: Perspectives on Teaching the US Labor Movement is the first book-length treatment of this blind spot in contemporary curriculum and pedagogy. Contributors to this collection—unionists, activists, teachers, teacher educators, and academics—interrogate the ways in which knowledge is constructed in school discourses, conceptualize pedagogical strategies and curricula that open discussions around class analysis and political economy via studies of the labor movement, and put forward an activist vision of education that truly engages young people beyond the classroom walls.

Seeing With Poetic Eyes

Critical Race Theory and Moving from Liberal to Critical Forms of Race Research in Sociology of Education

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Benjamin Blaisdell

“Seeing with poetic eyes” is a phrase used by a teacher to describe one of his students, a teenager who could recognize the disconnect between U. S. society’s claims about racial equity and its actual commitment towards that equity. As a teacher, he saw it as his mission to help all of his students see the world in such a critical way with that hope that they would be motivated to pursue antiracism more actively in their lives. In this book, I discuss how critical race theory (CRT) can motivate research on race in sociology of education in a similar way. Specifically, I describe how CRT helped me work with seven white teachers on developing more critical understandings of race. In my ethnographic interviews with these teachers, the analytical tools of CRT gave me a way to openly dialogue with them about issues of race in education. I was able to not only learn from the teachers but also work with them on developing racial awareness. Instead of relying on more liberal forms of sociological research—where the researcher extracts data from participants—CRT helped me promote a more critical approach, one where the researcher and participants work together to actively pursue antiracism in the research act itself. So “seeing with poetic eyes” refers the way that I have come to view research as a means of antiracism. Similarly, I propose that CRT can promote such a critical approach to research on race in the field of sociology of education.

Tracing the threads

A curriculum study of the dialogue of ""otherness"" in the histories of public and independent schooling

Kelly J.D. Waldron

This text is a postmodern, historical analysis that seeks to trouble the distinction between the “private” and the “public” that is traditionally drawn in educational history and theory by examining the histories of public schools and independent schools around the topics of identity politics, accountability, and globalization. This work is unique in its focus on the histories of independent schoolings as being in dialogue with those of public schooling. Through a historical and theoretical examination of the dialogical space in-between the private/public divide in education around these three interrelated topics, this work seeks to troubles the private/public distinction, exploring the possibilities and futurities for curriculum work and education in the postmodern space in-between public schools and independent schools. It raises questions regarding what defines the structures of schooling in the United States as well as how contrasts between public and private spaces question traditional notions of democratic education.

Andrew J.C. Begg

An important contribution that ‘Emerging curriculum’ makes is a reconceptualizing of the curriculum development process. This moves development thinking from the traditional research-development-dissemination model to one that acknowledges: the interrelatedness of many influences on curriculum, the multi-layered nature of curriculum, and the complexity of the educational system in which curriculum exists. Indeed the educational system is envisaged as a ‘complex living system’ The study is autobiographical, it is based on a lifetime spent in education during which the author had a particular interest in curriculum and the associated development processes, and how one’s ideas about these change over time. ‘Emerging curriculum has been successfully submitted as a PhD thesis but was written as a book for a wider audience than the traditional thesis one. It shows by example how reflection on one’s work throughout one’s career can be considered as research and can contribute to knowledge in a similar way to that of more traditional doctoral research projects. It is hoped that teachers reading this will relate to the author’s experiences in schools, and will see themselves significant contributors to curriculum; that curriculum developers will be provoked into considering alternative ways of working; and that academics might move curriculum theorising closer to the reality of schools.

James Bay Cree Students and Higher Education

Issues of Identity and Culture Shock

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Christopher Darius Stonebanks

This book examines the continuing challenges of lingering colonial cultural imperialism on the James Bay Cree, through an examination of the relationship between Cree students and the current “mainstream higher education” system. Culture shock and identity formation are central themes as the book investigates the uneven relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous authority in North America, dispelling notions of living in a “post-colonial” context. Well suited to a number of interests, such as Multiculturalism, Native/Indigenous studies, Sociology, Curriculum Studies, Cultural Comparative Education, Qualitative Research and more, readers will gain an understanding or simply benefit from a confirmation and validation of the complexities regarding “Native education”.

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Edited by Julia Resnik

"What impact does globalization have on the production of educational knowledge, and on the way scholars envisage education systems and education in general?
Western education systems are being transformed, and their role redefined, in light of the processes of globalization: education targets are being reshaped in response to global economic needs; education systems are rated according to international rankings and education itself has been packaged into a commodity that can be commercialized worldwide. In addition, globalization prompts more intimate contact with different types of societies, cultures and knowledge that defy our “universal” foundations and research tools. Has educational knowledge developed in a way that enables us to disentangle the new education configurations? In order to respond to this question this edited volume addresses four major challenges:
to understand the denationalization of education and the need to re-conceptualize this transformation.
to uncover the agents and the tools of educational globalization, such as the knowledge producers, international organizations and role of statistics.
to explore the implications of the emerging international educational institutions and international curricula.
to understand non-western education and integrating it into western educational knowledge.
These challenges are located at the core of the production of educational knowledge and are treated from a variety of viewpoints: sociological quantitative and qualitative scholarship, ethnographic accounts, socio-historical perspectives and philosophical reflections.
This book contributes to critical thinking about globalization and educational knowledge and, at the same time, opens our spirits to the theoretical opportunities and educational enrichment that the globalization era offers. This is a compelling collection for anthropologists, sociologists, educational researchers, and anyone who seeks to understand the need of new modes of thinking about education in the global era.
CONTRIBUTORS: Robert Arnove, Aaron Benavot, Eyal Ben Ari, Roser Cussó, Yossi Dahan, Roger Dale, Oren Lallo, Julia Lerner, Orna Naftali, Julia Resnik, Susan Robertson, Philip Wexler and Yossi Yonah.

Symbolic Movement

Critique and Spirituality in Sociology of Education

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Philip Wexler

This is a book about sociology of education—past, present and future.
In the first section the author chronicles and specifies the changes in the field, in a reflexive sociology of education, tracing the path out of liberalism, through radicalism and postmodernism, to an emergent new age stance in understanding education in society. Section two looks in more detail how these movements have actually worked in education and society.
The third section places the historical, macrosocial analysis of education and society on the smaller, more everyday screen of school life. Based on the author’s studies in high school, the question of identity and education is the fulcrum for a series of concrete studies or school portraits, which connect public social change and more personal, everyday life and identity with the social process of schooling.
The final section probes the new age theme. Questions of spirituality, rationality, magic, mysticism and sublimation are related to changes both in education and in sociology of education. What does it mean to do educational research in a re-sacralized, mystical society? And, does a new theory of sociology of education emerge on a Weberian rather than Durkheimian-functionalist or Marxist-radical view of the directions and reversals that begin in modernity and become more evident in our times?

Enaction

Toward a Zen Mind in Learning and Teaching

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Domenico Masciotra, Wolff-Michael Roth and Denise Morel

This book is addressed to all those in the field of education or related fields, including teachers, teacher-trainers, consultants, and researchers, who are interested in exploring the question, “What does it mean to know, to learn and to teach?” Contrary to popular conceptions, an enactive perspective assumes that knowing and learning are not disembodied operations that take place solely in a person’s head. Rather, they are a function of the whole person who is firmly situated in the world and who acts in the world to transform it, just as she is transformed by it. The dynamic and transformational nature of knowing and learning are reflected in the relationship between the person and her world, a relationship that evolves through acting in and with the world rather than abstracting oneself from it. Knowing develops as a function of the person’s availability, that is, her full involvement and presence in the here- and-now. The aim of education is thus to foster the development of this relationship in a never-ending quest for deep interiority with the world.
Drawing on their experiences as teachers, curriculum developers, students, Zen practitioners, karateka, bicyclists, hobby mathematicians, and gardeners, the authors provide many concrete examples of what it means to think about knowing and learning in terms of enaction and how teachers and curriculum developers who take enactivism seriously might go about designing and implementing lessons.

Series:

Patrick J. Lewis

If story is the basic principle of mind—then what are we doing in elementary schools? In this provocative exploration of narrative, the author writes from the idea that story is integral to the generation of meaning in human experience. Indeed, story plays a significant role in the formation of identity and the development of greater empathic understanding.
The text begins with a discussion of the epistemological and ontological nature of narrative in human understanding and then travels across the narrative landscape of the school setting. Through an examination of the impact of standards and accountability emphasis on curriculum, the author suggests current practice may be undermining student learning and engagement. Further, the author places oracy in temporary opposition to literacy, challenging us to rethink our assumptions about the role of literacy (ies) learning. Without negating the importance of literacy, attention is drawn to what is lost in chasing the assumed inherent good-ness of a text-based literacy and how this might hinder the growth of our children.
The value of narrative in developing teaching practice and promoting significant learning is brought to the foreground of the discussion, which naturally journeys into an exploration of curriculum raising serious questions about developmental approaches to curriculum construction. How we think but not in school will appeal to elementary teachers, early literacy teachers, teacher educators and those interested in narrative.