The Journal of Educational Change publishes important ideas and evidence of educational change. Contributions represent a range of disciplines, including history, psychology, political science, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and administrative and organizational theory. The journal also draws attention to a broad spectrum of methodologies, including quantitative and qualitative approaches, documentary study, action research, and conceptual development.
As the journal’s editor-in-chief, Dennis Shirley, explains in his introduction to the August issue, the five articles published this month point us in “promising directions for improving our schools and enhancing the legitimacy of our public educational systems.”
Shirely argues, “The quest for legitimacy has driven many governments to turn to data and a more scientific approach to educational change. On the one hand this is a felicitous development, especially for researchers. On the other hand, the pursuit of certainty through the quantification of education has itself proved nettlesome. It seems that the mathematization of teaching and learning can conceal a number of blind spots that can create new problems for teachers and students. How this occurs and can be overcome is represented vividly in this new issue of The Journal of Educational Change.”
To read Shirley’s complete introduction, click here: The legitimation crisis of educational change.
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NTB, Dagen (March 15, 2013)
Minister Kristin Halvorsen get much praise even from opposition parties, the message of reform in secondary school. The image is from the University of Bergen, where she presented the research report last week Photo: Marit Hommedal / NTB Scanpix
On March 15th, the government of Norway released a white paper report proposing that education be made more practical and relevant. The report, titled “On the Right Path: Quality and Diversity in Public Schools,” calls for students to have greater freedom to move subjects between grade levels, and between academic and workplace settings. Vocational education is under review for ways in which it can produce students who are better prepared for professional work, thereby yielding a greater impact on the labor market. In order to ensure that the curriculum meets the needs of the students, the government will appoint a committee to assess the extent to which today’s school subjects cover competencies and skills the students require.
In addition to vocational training, the government aims to focus on issues related to multicultural diversity of the population, such as bilingualism, by teaching democratic principles such as tolerance and inclusion, and introducing early intervention for children in kindergarten programs tailored to their needs. In particular, nursery staff will need to have expertise in multilingual education, and teachers will need to be prepared to introduce Norwegian as a second language and adapt instruction in all subjects. Newly arrived students of all ages will be assessed for language skills and receive customized training programs on the primary and secondary level. In addition, newly arrived adults who do not speak the language will be eligible for prolonged second language training.
The latest calls for improving the educational system in Norway follow a series of reforms over the past ten years that included the development of national tests and other means of monitoring the performance of the educational system. While that emphasis reflects rising demands for accountability around the world, in an article in the latest issue of the Journal of Educational Change and a previous blog post, IEN editor Thomas Hatch argues that the Norwegian reforms demonstrate a different approach. Rather than relying primarily on rewards and consequences, Hatch shows how the Norwegian reforms attempt to balance the need for individual accountability with efforts to foster individual and collective responsibility.
For more information:
*links in Norwegian
New impetus for future artisans
Commentary: The dance over Norwegian youth
(links to articles are embedded as hyperlinks)
In the most recent issue of the Journal of Educational Change, studies highlight teacher participation in reform efforts in Mexico and a participatory approach to wide-scale change in India.
Education Reform and Teacher Participation in Mexico
In their study of Mexico’s 2006 Reforma de la Educacion Secundaria (RS) (Reform of Secondary Educatión), Levinson, Blackwood and Cross conclude that despite interest in professionalizing teaching at the secondary level, “for the most part secondary teachers in Mexico neither felt like agents nor partners in the RS…. As in previous reform efforts, teachers mostly felt that they were recipients of plans formulated by government officials, and as a result many have evidenced neither complete compliance nor full commitment to the reform.” They go on to explore the problematic role of the union in the reform and the concerns that many teachers have about the union. Recent reports from Mexico show that concerns about the union and teacher participation continue. President Enrique Peña Nieto’s recent education reform initiative is widely seen as an effort to diminish the power of Mexico’s teacher union, which has been led by Elba Esther Gordillo; however, it is not clear if President Nieto will provide the essential structure and support that would allow for authentic teacher participation. At this time, the teachers and union leadership have been presented in the press as allies in the effort to protest Nieto’s reform.
Wide-scale change in India
While recent attention often focuses on the regulations of the Right to Education Act in India (including recent reports and debates about the progress of this initiative), Tricia Niesz and Ramchandar Krishnamurthy suggested that the wide-scale adoption of Activity-Based Learning (ABL) in Tamil Nadu India was accomplished through a more participatory, grass-roots approach. They argue that state-level administrators “engaged strategies for change that combined both movement-building tactics and the conventional tools of administrative power.” These administrators themselves became experts in the ABL method in a way that built good will and moral authority even when administrators used top-down mandates to institutionalize the reform.