HundrED announces inspiring innovators for 2019

Last week, educators from around the globe convened in Helsinki, Finland for HundrED’s Innovation Summit. HundrED is an organization focused on discovering and sharing scalable innovations in K-12 education throughout the world. The summit featured the announcement of the 100 Inspiring Innovators for 2019 as well as keynote speeches, masterclasses, and workshops from renowned educators such as Pasi Sahlerg and leaders of innovative educational organizations. In this post, we highlight some parts of the summit and feature a few of the organizations included in the 100 Inspiring Innovators for 2019.

 

In addition to an overview of the summit’s events, HundrED provided:

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Among the organizations included in the 100 Inspiring Innovators for 2019:

Big Picture Learning (Rhode Island, USA)

“We at Big Picture Learning stand for unbridled, fearless curiosity and we will continue, as we always have, to foster learning spaces which create the wake in which students can freely, and with courage, pursue their passions and interests”

Elliot Washor, Co-founder Big Picture Learning

 

Talking Tree hill One Day School (Auckland, New Zealand)

Children spend one day of the school week outside reconnecting to nature and themselves through innovation, imagination and creativity.

Redes de Tutoria (Mexico City, Mexico)

Over the past 20 years, Redes de Tutoría has sought to transform students and teachers by developing tutorial relationships and harnessing the power of one to one dialogue. The Redes de Tutoría approach moves away from the traditional classroom where a teacher delivers standard content for all students to work through at exactly the same pace.  Instead, tutees enjoy greater autonomy and choose what interests them most from a selection of inquiry-based projects called ‘Temas’. Supported by individualized guidance from the teacher, students build on their prior knowledge with self-directed study. Once their study is completed, students reflect on their learning before presenting their Tema to the class. The presentation not only builds confidence and self-esteem but also creates a shared learning culture within the classroom.

Project DEFY: Design Education for Yourself (Bangalore, India)

“We do not want education to be merely a transfer of instruction. Education is a much more interesting process of self-discovery and understanding of local and global surroundings.”

Abhijit Sinha, Founder & Director of Project DEFY

 

HundrED Announces Inspiring Innovators for 2019

Last week, educators from around the globe convened in Helsinki, Finland for HundrED’s Innovation Summit. HundrED is an organization focused on discovering and sharing scalable innovations in K-12 education throughout the world. The summit featured the announcement of the 100 Inspiring Innovators for 2019 as well as keynote speeches, masterclasses, and workshops from renowned educators such as Pasi Sahlerg and leaders of innovative educational organizations. In this post, we highlight some parts of the summit and feature a few of the organizations included in the 100 Inspiring Innovators for 2019.

In addition to an overview of the summit’s events, HundrED provided:

 

hundred image

Among the organizations included in the 100 Inspiring Innovators for 2019:

Big Picture Learning (Rhode Island, USA)

“We at Big Picture Learning stand for unbridled, fearless curiosity and we will continue, as we always have, to foster learning spaces which create the wake in which students can freely, and with courage, pursue their passions and interests”

Elliot Washor, Co-founder Big Picture Learning

 

Talking Tree hill One Day School (Auckland, New Zealand)

Children spend one day of the school week outside reconnecting to nature and themselves through innovation, imagination and creativity.

Redes de Tutoria (Mexico City, Mexico)

Over the past 20 years, Redes de Tutoría has sought to transform students and teachers by developing tutorial relationships and harnessing the power of one to one dialogue. The Redes de Tutoría approach moves away from the traditional classroom where a teacher delivers standard content for all students to work through at exactly the same pace.  Instead, tutees enjoy greater autonomy and choose what interests them most from a selection of inquiry-based projects called ‘Temas’. Supported by individualized guidance from the teacher, students build on their prior knowledge with self-directed study. Once their study is completed, students reflect on their learning before presenting their Tema to the class. The presentation not only builds confidence and self-esteem but also creates a shared learning culture within the classroom.

Project DEFY: Design Education for Yourself (Bangalore, India)

“We do not want education to be merely a transfer of instruction. Education is a much more interesting process of self-discovery and understanding of local and global surroundings.”

Abhijit Sinha, Founder & Director of Project DEFY

 

R4D Study: Promoting Secondary School Retention in Latin America

With both the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), much of the focus for improving education has been on enrolling children in and supporting their completion of primary school. The organization Results for Development reminds that “Despite having made impressive gains in primary and secondary school enrollment over the last few decades, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have struggled to ensure that all children complete secondary school.” This week, we highlight a study from Results for Development, authored by Results for Development’s Kimberly Josephson, Robert Francis, and Shubha Jayaram. The study “explores lessons on reducing secondary school dropouts from Mexico and Chile and provides recommendations on how decision-makers in the region can counter this challenge.” Robert Francies, also from Results for Development, provides a concise summary of the study. We highlight a few additional sections from the report below.

CAF-R4D_report-cover-web3-700x700

On the Mexican School System:
Mexico has a near universal transition rate from primary to lower secondary school, and nearly 90 percent of students complete a lower secondary education.2,3 High dropout rates in upper secondary school pose the most significant bottleneck to completing compulsory education in Mexico: 15 percent of young people drop out every year at this level with young men more likely to dropout than young women (17 percent versus 14 percent, respectively) (INEE, 2017). Over the last decade, several reforms have attempted to strengthen the compulsory education cycle, which includes upper secondary school since 2012, and culminated with the recent introduction of a new education model Nuevo Modelo Educativo [New Education Model] in 2017 that aims to disrupt outdated pedagogical practices and make education content more engaging and relevant.

Lessons from Mexico:
Schools inconsistently implemented both initiatives, selecting certain activities and tools as they deem appropriate. This inconsistency could be due in part to overburdened school staff, inherent variation between school systems and limited coordination at the national level. Both Construye T and Yo No Abandono started as large-scale initiatives. Neither program conducted rigorous pilots to test implementation and effectiveness of program activities, which has complicated their ability to scale up effectively.

On the Chilean School System:
Chile has shown remarkable progress in improving access and completion rates at the secondary education level for all students. Between 1990 and 2013, the proportion of youths between the ages of 20 and 24 who completed secondary school increased from 54 to 85 percent (JUNAEB, 2015). Importantly, the lowest-income groups experienced the greatest gains in enrollment over this period; however, economically and socially vulnerable youth still experience much higher rates of school repetition and early exit. The Chilean government has thus executed policies and programs to expand resources to the most vulnerable schools and students. For example, equity-oriented initiatives provide a high amount of funding to schools based on the enrollment of vulnerable students. Similar to Mexico, female students in Chile are more likely to complete secondary education than males (88 versus 82 percent, respectively) (CEN, 2014; JUNAEB, 2014)

 

Lessons from Chile:
In Chile’s current education governance structure where municipalities operate schools with significant autonomy from the national government, the “outsider” status of Aquí Presente’s psychosocial professionals sparked initial distrust among teachers and staff.8 Eventually, however, this external perspective allowed them to cause disruptive change and gave them more latitude to speak and act freely than other school actors. The effectiveness of Aquí Presente was also seen as attributable to the full-time nature of these professionals, whose sole task was to reduce dropout and improve school conditions. With the 2017 transition of Aquí Presente to ABE, it remains to be seen whether municipalities and schools will use existing resources to hire similarly dedicated staff.

 

Recommendations:
The recommendations that emerge from the study’s analysis can be placed into five categories. These are areas that warrant particular attention and should be carefully considered during the design and implementation of a strategy or program that seeks to directly or indirectly influence dropout:

→ Quality of learning environments

→ Inclusive and participatory approaches

→ Data and targeting

→ Coordination

→ Investment in school capacity

 

For related work, IEN has produced posts on Education reform in Mexico and new programs from the CONAFE.

The Migrant Caravan and Education

This past June, IEN posted a timeline of the Trump administration’s war on immigrant families and children. This past week, those attacks continued in Trump’s violent rhetoric about a migrant caravan traveling toward the U.S. border. In this post, Managing Editor Jordan Corson, follows up by providing an overview of how immigration and migrant caravan intersects with education issues and sharing some educational resources for educators.

In recent days Trump has tried to use the latest migrant caravan as an opportunity to energize his base of supporters before the mid-term elections. Despite Trump’s focus on the most recent caravan of roughly 6,000 immigrants from Central America, Voices of San Diego’s Everything you need to know about the migrant caravan, and those that came before” details, caravans are nothing new. The caravans are not simply a product of conditions within home countries but are “often a manifestation of a profoundly unequal and exploitative relationship between countries from which people emigrate and countries of destination,” as this Business Insider article elaborates.  The latest caravan along with others have been supported by Pueblo sin Fronteras (people without borders), an organization dedicated to “reaching out to the most vulnerable immigrants in the United States and to migrants and refugees on the move.” In doing so, they “accompany migrants and refugees in their journey of hope, and together demand our human rights.” An NBC story on the organization provides further details.

Education and the Caravan

There are about 2300 children traveling in the latest caravan. These conditions leading children and families to travel to the U.S. certainly includes schooling and the opportunity to study and attend school in the U.S. The education system in Honduras is underfunded and, as another outlet puts it “People are unable to access education, health care and employment, and violence is ubiquitous. In an interview with France 24, a “migrant, who gave his name as Jaled, said they were marching ‘because there is no work in Honduras, no education, nothing good. The cost of life increases every weekend.’”

Schools in Honduras, the country of origin for many in the latest caravan, face many struggles, including safety concerns and persistently unequal conditions. At the same time, many in Honduras continue to work to improve the country’s education system. Global Partnership highlights changes and plans to improve the education system. A Relief Web piece describes teachers, with the support of the UNHCR, working together to improve the system at a more local level.

Yet, children in this caravan face increasing risks, with recent reports of a child being abducted. Last Friday, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto announced a new program You Are Home (Estas en tu casa), which offers children a place in Mexican schools. Yet, many in the caravan, however, have decided to continue traveling toward the U.S.

Although many adults and children should be eligible to apply for asylum and its accompanying protections, there is considerable speculation and much uncertainty about what will happen when the caravan reaches the U.S. border. In addition, although children in the caravan enter the U.S. are, at least legally speaking, guaranteed equal access to schools, City Lab reports on the educational crisis that many face once they arrive. Within this uncertainty, it is still clear that those in the caravan are travelling in search of opportunities, including the possibility of a different educational path.

 

Additional resources that may be useful for classrooms

https://blog.education.nationalgeographic.org/2018/05/02/five-myths-about-the-migrant-caravan/

 

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/what-we-know-about-the-latest-migrant-caravan-traveling-through-mexico

Leading Futures: Flip the System UK: A Manifesto for an Education Evolution

In this post, the editors of the new volume Flip the System UK, JL Dutaut and Lucy Rycroft-Smith, offer an introduction to the main ideas of their work. The book focuses on major issues confronting teachers today and what can be done, through teacher agency, to address these issues. This post is part of the Leading Futures series. Previous Leading Futures posts include a series on Future Directions of Educational Change and Alternative Perspectives on Education Reform.

flip system

JL Dutaut and Lucy Rycroft-Smith

Let’s begin with this simple premise: Imagine that your country does not have an education system. As a reformer or as an educational thinker, where do you go from there? What is your priority? How have you determined this priority? The premise is provocative. It invites you to start from scratch, to imagine anew.  Adding in a Rawlsian veil of ignorance might further deepen the thought experiment to include concepts of equity. There should be schools, clearly, but what type of system would support high quality learning and teaching? How should you judge system performance? What agency would teachers have to instigate change and innovation? Your thinking quickly leads you to think of an educational future that is not incumbered by accountability, standardisation and privatisation.

In this thought experiment, you have allowed us to turn you into a politician. You have exercised a whole raft of decision making. In the effort of imagining a new education system, you have considered the consequences you seek, while discounting the strategies unlikely to achieve them. Did you give any thought to the agency of parents, students, employers and communities in your new education system? When the system comes before the people it is designed to serve, democracy has already been de-prioritised.

Who are we then, you might ask, to be publishing a book on system change? And where do we get the audacity to call for the UK’s education system to be flipped?

By ‘flipped’, we mean an ostensibly simple premise:

“Replacing top-down accountability with bottom-up support for teachers.” (Evers and Kneyber, 2016, p. 5)

As teachers in England, we have both suffered the iniquities of being at the sharp end of accountability and decision making in our education system. We found ourselves, and each other, at a dark time in our teaching careers – subjected to the full weight of accountability measures and the dulling grind of questionable professional development. In an effort to find a path back to the realities of the classroom, we met the editors of a book called Flip the System: Changing Education from the Ground Up. This book changed our lives.

Fast forward two years, and we have published our own edition: Flip the System UK: A Teachers’ Manifesto, a book that has added to a global movement and has begun to shift the ground under the feet of policy makers both in the Netherlands and internationally. We are proud to be part of a growing chorus of teachers calling for the re-professionalisation of their work – and to have written a call to collective action for the UK context.

Flipping professional expectations

Flip the System UK: A Teachers’ Manifesto contains 37 chapters by over 40 teachers, headteachers, educational thinkers, researchers and policy makers – and it could have been many more, such was the interest in participating. The book brings people together who often disagree and finds a common cause among them.

“So I started researchED as a conference-based project to bring educators, academics, researchers, policy-makers and everyone else in the eco-system together: to present the best of what they knew, to challenge, discuss and learn.” (Bennett, T. in Rycroft-Smith and Dutaut, 2018, p.7)

“researchED, the brainchild of Sam Freedman (then advisor to Education Secretary, Michael Gove) and doctor/journalist Ben Goldacre (then advisor to the government on research in education) was handed to a high-profile teacher to give it credibility, yet in my opinion its purpose serves the government’s agenda very well.” (Kidd, D. in Rycroft-Smith and Dutaut, 2018, p.65)

Despite disagreement on motives and the very purpose of education, Bennett’s and Kidd’s views on teacher professionalisation offer complementary prisms through which to identify problems and potential solutions. For Kidd, politicians get in the way. For Bennett, they can’t help. Both agree that professionalisation is not only desireable but necessary, and offer unique insights into what it entails.

Not only does flipping the system transcend ideological divides, it also transcends the boundaries of the devolved governments. To a greater or lesser extent, the policy-as-imposition paradigm is the status quo across the UK. In England, it is arguably more advanced but it is unquestionably the case that that professionalism in education has been downgraded and devalued across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too. The impact on teacher wellbeing, retention and recruitment is evident.

“Today’s report found more teachers are now leaving before retirement than five years ago, and schools are finding it difficult to fill posts with the quality of teachers they need.” (NAO, 2018)

“A growing teacher recruitment crisis is looming unless greater support for teachers is forthcoming, the President of NASUWT Scotland warned.” (NASUWT, 2016)

“Welsh Government figures showed the target for trainee teacher intake in secondary schools and for PGCEs had both been missed in 2015-16. Owen Hathway, Wales policy officer for the NUT, said the pressures and stresses of the job were putting people off entering the profession. […] The Welsh Government said it would be looking into the “downwards trend”..” (Betteley, 2017)

“Speaking ahead of this morning’s conference, Ms McGinley said: “Schools are like pressure cookers about to boil over. Teachers are becoming more and more bogged down and are disappearing under a tsunami of initiatives – target setting, monitoring and evaluating.” (Rutherford, A., 2018)

Whether the cause of this is simply well-intentioned yet fundamentally misguided policy making – or a deliberate and sustained attack on public education from vested interests in the shape of what Pasi Sahlberg calls the Global Education Reform Movement, is irrelevant as far as Flip the System UK is concerned. In their original book, Jelmer Evers and René Kneyber make a strong case that the GERM is a destructive factor, but we feel no need to revisit old ground. Our book is resolutely about finding solutions and arguing for collective professional agency.

This is remarkably simple. It stems from taking the word – professionalism – and defining it, re-appropriating it with and for teachers. Indeed, we might say that we have flipped the very idea of professional expectations, no longer to be expectations of us, but our own expectations as professionals. All we ask is the wherewithal to meet them. The effect can be transformative It leads inexorably to reprioritising the agentic and collective nature of practice.

“An understanding of the nature of collaboration, joint exploration and learning also requires a reformulation of the nature of schools as learning organisations that are democratic, fluid and transformative.” (Gibbs, S. in Rycroft-Smith and Dutaut, 2018, p.133)

Indeed, in taking ownership of our professionalism, it becomes evident that ideas previously vociferously contested can be easily re-framed as complementary. There is room for pluralism in our vision. More than that, the very vociferousness with which they have been argued is revealed as a direct consequence of the disempowerment felt by educational professionals with respect to their professional identity. Disconnected from any effective exercise of power (in our classrooms, our schools or our national policy), teachers compensate by attempting to exercise power over what they can. Pedagogy comes to replace curriculum in educational thinking and ‘what works’ methodology usurps questions of purpose and ethics as passionate teachers take to social media to exercise some sense control over their very identities; such is the lack of agency in UK education.

Of course, methodology matters as much as purpose. Pedagogy matters as much as curriculum. But until we attend to agency in all the ways set out in our manifesto, teaching is doomed to continue to suffer the pendulum swings of political whim.

Five facets of professional agency

In collating the contributions to Flip the System UK, it became evident that there were five distinct facets of agency pertaining to education (pertaining perhaps to all public sector professions). Three, it seemed to us, defined that professionalism while a further two developed the context within which it can take root and flourish.

Defining professionalism

It is our conclusion that professionalism in education stems from:

  • cognitive agency – teachers as consumers and producers of professional knowledge;

“Greater research engagement has the potential to lead to a more responsive form of accountability, whereby practitioners continually analyse and modify their own professional processes. Doing so requires teachers to have control over what they do in the classroom, and so the movement towards teacher research engagement has an intrinsic link to teacher agency.” (Firth, J. in Rycroft-Smith and Dutaut, 2018, p.22)

  • collective agency – networks of teachers as self-sufficient developers and deliverers of accountability;

“Those of us who continue to regard teaching as a profession and ourselves as embodying professionalism in our classrooms and staffrooms already have a strong sense of internal accountability. Effective leadership, teaching and learning take place when that internal accountability is harnessed and celebrated.” (Clarke, Z. in Rycorft-Smith and Dutaut, 2018, p.40)

  • ethical agency – teachers and networks of teachers as democratic, purposeful and community-oriented policy makers.

“Democracy involves shared decion making and building a joint vision through direct, deliberative and representative processes. […] Scholarship provides a means by which – practically and through drawing on evidence and theory – professional communities can menaningfully co-construct a vision. Activism involves building networks and communicating more widely the needs of the profession and the nature of education. Solidarity requires us to imagine our disparate sufferings as a common obstacle to overcome. Ultimately, to flip the system we need to construct our actions with respect to all four” (Watson, S. in Rycroft-Smith and Dutaut, 2018, p.74)

Empowering professionalism

To create the conditions for this radical re-professionalisation of teaching, the social context must be one that fosters:

  • political agency – the power of each professional to exercise their voice meaningfully (that is, with impact), to enrich accountability as a two-way flow.

“If more of the readily available expertise in the system was re-admitted into the tiny bubble from which current policy emerges, then ministers might begin to realise that [the education system is not broken and is not in need of urgent substantial change]. A period of ‘benign neglect’ would almost certainly be of greater value to schools, teachers and children than the culturally disconnected, ideologically faith-based hyper-activism we have suffered for the last twenty years.” (Critchley, J. in Rycroft-Smith and Dutaut, 2018, p.184)

  • global agency – the power to compare and contextualise policy and practice from teacher to teacher, classroom to classroom, school to school, locally, nationally and internationally, to enrich decision-making at all levels.

“To everyone serious about education as an evidence-based profession for the maximum benefit of all: Reach out and take part! Participate in the live, ongoing multitude of voices – sharing, informing, communicating, collaborating. Do it with an open mind and you will not only get help when you ask for it, but also learn to be a better judge of what you encounter and make better decisions.” (Hjelm, S. in Rycroft-Smith and Dutaut, p.249)

The manifesto advocated by the writers in this book explores professional agency in the UK context, and in a global sense. Contributions from Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia and even a refugee camp in Northern France show powerfully the similarity of the challenges we teachers face, and the importance of subverting hierarchies to solve them.

They are complemented by a host of examples of grassroots collaborations that do just that, often despite the systems within which they operate. Teacher agency must be global, and we must connect across national and international boundaries to ensure we don’t keep repeating the same mistakes in different time zones.

Evolution, not revolution

Flipping the system means evolving and expanding our conception of educational professionalism, and it requires everyone to play their part if we are to avoid going around in circles.

So, let us end with this premise: Imagine that your country does not have an education system. As a reformer or as an educational thinker, where do you go from there? What is your priority? If you’d like to work with us on some solutions, Flip the System UK: A Teachers’ Manifesto is out and you can contact us at http://www.flipthesystem.uk.

Let’s keep the conversation going!

Betteley, c. (2017), available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-40300850

Evers, J and Kneyber, R. (2016), Flip the System: Changing Education from the Ground Up. Abingdon: Routledge.

NASUWT (2016), available at http://edgazette.co.uk/latest-news/unions/nasuwt/nasuwt-scotland-annual-conference-2016/

NAO (2018), available at https://www.nao.org.uk/press-release/retaining-and-developing-the-teaching-workforce/

 

Rutherford, A. (2018) available at https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/teachers-workloads-turning-northern-ireland-schools-into-pressure-cookers-claims-union-36856539.html

 

Rycroft-Smith, L. and Dutaut, JL (2018), Flip the System UK: A Teachers’ Manifesto. Abingdon: Routledge.

LEAD THE CHANGE SERIES Q & A with Elaine Simmt

Dr. Elaine Simmt is a professor in the Department of Secondary Education at the University of Alberta. Her scholarship is in mathematics education. She began her career as a secondary school teacher of mathematics and physical sciences. She completed doctoral studies in mathematics education under the supervision of Dr. Tom
Kieren. Dr. Simmt also serves as Associate Dean and the Co-Director of the Centre for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education. Dr. Simmt’s research is focused in mathematics education. In particular, she explores teaching and learning as understood through the frames of enactivism and complexity thinking with colleagues Brent Davis, Lynn McGarvey, Jo Towers, Lyndon Martin, Jerome Proulx, Jennifer Thom, Joyce Mgombelo and Florence Glanfield. A second and complementary area of study is centred in teacher education, specifically mathematics-for-teaching. In her most recent work, Dr. Simmt has been involved in international projects in Tanzania and Oman where she and colleagues are working to build capacity for mathematics teaching and learning. Dr. Elaine Simmt can be reached at: esimmt@ualberta.ca

In this interview, part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Dr. Simmt talks about her work with mathematics teaching and learning as well as complexity theory. As Simmt puts it:

I explore mathematics teaching and learning in “classroom” contexts. That is, contexts that are complex by even everyday definitions of complexity. While working with data from a 7th grade mathematics class that I had taught, Brent Davis, Dennis Sumara, and I
had been co-teaching courses in cognition and curriculum, and doing in-service work with K-12 teachers. The synergy from these activities resulted in us specifically focusing on learning systems in complexity terms. Particularly we were interested in the emergence of “the class” as a collective learning system (Davis & Simmt, 2003; Davis & Simmt, 2006; Davis, Simmt, Sumara, 2006). This work continues today among a group of colleagues (McGarvey et al., 2018).

This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also interviewed Kristin Kew and Kirsi Pyhältö.

Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: A Conversation with Dr. Shenila Khoja-Moolji

This week, IEN shares a conversation with Dr. Shenila Khoja-Moolji, Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies at Bowdoin College. We discussed her latest book, Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia (University of California Press, 2018). The book is available for free download here.

Dr Khoja-Moolji 2

Photo credit:  Dennis Griggs/Tannery Hill Studios

 

IEN: What was the impetus for the book?

Shenila: I had been researching and writing about the convergence on the figure of the girl in international development policy and practice for some time. I noticed that many development campaigns portrayed girls in the global South as not only threatened by poverty, disease, and terrorism, but also as holding the potential to resolve these problems. Education was often presented as that ‘silver bullet’ that would help girls overcome any issue they faced. I explored if girls really were the key to societal progress, and contemplated on the kind of girlhood that was portrayed as being desirable. Crucially, I wrote about how the burden of development and ending poverty was being shifted to black and brown girls, without any due consideration to how poverty is political and an effect of historical relations of power.

As I did this work, I was reminded of how this girl resembles her predecessor, the “Moslem woman” or “Musalman woman” who, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in colonial India, emerged as a figure to be saved from backward cultural practices of purdah, seclusion, early marriage, and religious superstitions. We find writings where colonial administrators, Christian missionaries, as well as Muslim social reformers—for different reasons—claimed that education would save/civilize/reform native women.

So, in the book, I decided to track these multiple articulations of the figure of the ‘educated girl’ in the context of Muslim South Asia during the last 100 years or so. In a way, I wanted to discover her allure and promise.

 

IEN: Can you offer an overview of the book?

The book is a genealogy of the figure of the educated girl and it is situated in the context of colonial India and postcolonial Pakistan. I have organized the book into three time-periods—the turn of the twentieth century, the early decades after the political establishment of Pakistan, so the 1950s and 1960s, and the turn of the twenty-first century. I explore a broad range of texts: novels, political speeches, government documents, periodicals, advertisements, television shows, and first-person narratives, with an eye to examining how the figure of the ‘educated girl’ is being conjured: What are rationales given for women’s and girls’ education? What is the ideal curriculum for girls? What are imagined as the most suitable spaces for girls’ education?

I found that calls for girls’ education are often entangled with other societal goals. During the turn of the twentieth century, for instance, women were to be educated so that they could signal a respectable status for their families; after the establishment of Pakistan, women and girls were to be educated in order to become ‘scientifically-inclined mothers’ or ‘daughter-workers’ and by doing so contribute to the development of the state and family; and since the turn of the century, girls are called on to educate themselves and become flexible workers for the neoliberal economy.

Of course, there is a lot more going on in the book. For instance, I discuss how it is crucial to pay attention to social class; that there are different expectations for girls from different economic backgrounds. I also trace the rise of mass schooling as a central institution for disseminating knowledge and how this shift has elevated particular forms of knowledges over others. Finally, there is also a discussion of how over the course of the century different kinds of dispositions and practices of women have come to signify respectability, and how they are linked with advancing the welfare of the patriarchal state and family.

 

IEN: Can you say more about the expansion of mass schooling?

Well, the book traces how the institution of the modern school, with its systems of learning, bureaucratic administration, and examinations, gradually becomes the hegemonic institution for educating young people. The modern school has displaced the multiple community-centered and home-based educative spaces that were prevalent in colonial India. In doing so, it disturbed some of the ways in which the elite reproduced their privilege through education but replaced it with new hierarchies. For instance, it was “English schooling” that conferred upward mobility through access to the British administrative apparatus and exposure to Victorian norms.

Schooling in contemporary Pakistan, like elsewhere, is viewed as a pathway to obtaining jobs. For low-middle-class girls – who were the subject of my study, as you know in chapter four – schooling, unfortunately, did not really deliver on its promises. This group of girls desired more vocational education, which has been excised from formal schools. So the book also traces the promises and failings of mass schooling for girls of a particular socio-economic class.

 

IEN: With whom is the book talking?

The book is primarily aimed at an academic audience in the fields of gender studies, South Asian studies, and international education. However, I also think that it would be a useful read for development policymakers and practitioners to situate the current enticement of the figure of the girl.

 

IEN: What does it/can it say to policymakers / how might it be of use to policymakers? What possibilities are offered for policymakers and the like?

The purpose of a genealogy is to de-stabilize taken-for-granted categories and truths. So my hope would be that the book compels policymakers and practitioners, particularly those in the field of girls’ education, to interrogate some of the assumptions around girlhood and education. In particular, it calls on them to pay attention to the range of meanings that are often subsumed in calls for girls’ education. These meanings are frequently linked to reproducing particular privileges; in the book for instance, I focus on the reproduction of social class and masculine privilege. So I would hope that the book serves as a case study so policymakers and practitioners can engage in similar analyses in relation to other contexts.