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Boundaries of the Educational Imagination

Wayne Hugo

The educational imagination is the capacity to think critically beyond our located, daily experiences of education. It breaks away from the immediacy of personal understanding by placing education within wider, deeper and longer contexts. Boundaries of the Educational Imagination develops the educational imagination by answering six questions: What happens when we expand continuously outwards from one school to all the schools of the world?; What happens if we go inside a school and explore how its material equipment has changed over the past 300 years?; What is the smallest educational unit in our brain and how does it allow an almost infinite expansion of knowledge?; What is the highest level of individual development we can teach students to aspire towards?; What role does education play in a world that is producing more and more complex knowledge increasingly quickly?; How do small knowledge elements combine to produce increasingly complex knowledge forms? Each question goes on a journey towards limit points in education so that educational processes can be placed within a bigger framework that allows new possibilities, fresh options and more critical engagement. These questions are then pulled together into a structuring framework enabling the reader to grasp how this complex subject works.

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Burning Down the House

Politics, Governance, and Affirmative Action at the University of California

Burning Down the House presents a riveting analysis of one of the most nationally prominent and bitterly contested policy battles in the history of American higher education: the struggle to eliminate affirmative action at the University of California. A timely and essential addition to the literature on affirmative action, it examines the political, economic, legal, and organizational factors that shaped the debate in California and offers unique insight into the contemporary politics of admissions policy, university governance, and the role of higher education in broader state and national political contests to come.

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Class Degrees

Smart Work, Managed Choice, and the Transformation of Higher Education

Evan Watkins

A current truism holds that the undergraduate degree today is equivalent to the high-school diploma of yesterday. But undergraduates at a research university would probably not recognize themselves in the historical mirror of high-school vocational education. Students in a vast range of institutions are encouraged to look up the educational social scale, whereas earlier vocational education was designed to cool outexpectations of social advancement by training a working class prepared for massive industrialization.In Class Degrees, Evan Watkins argues that reforms in vocational education in the 1980s and 1990s can explain a great deal about the changing directions of class formation in the United States, as well as how postsecondary educational institutions are changing. Responding to a demand for flexibility in job skills and reflecting a consequent aspiration to choice and perpetual job mobility, those reforms aimed to eliminate the separate academic status of vocational education. They transformed it from a cooling outto a heating upof class expectations. The result has been a culture of hyperindividualism. The hyperindividual lives in a world permeated with against-all-odds plots, from beat the oddsof long supermarket checkout lines by using self-checkout and buying FasTrak transponders to beat the odds of traffic jams, to the endless superheroes on film and TV who daily save various sorts of planets and things against all odds.Of course, a few people can beat the odds only if most other people do not. As choice begins to replace the selling of individual labor at the core of contemporary class formation, the result is a sort of waste labor left behind by the competitive process. Provocatively, Watkins argues that, in the twenty-first century, academic work in the humanities is assuming the management function of reclaiming this waste labor as a motor force for the future.

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Compulsory

Education and the Dispossession of Youth in a Prison School

Sabina E. Vaught

“This is an American story, unsettled by contradictions, constituted by unresolvable loss and open-ended hope, produced through brutal exclusivities and persistent insurgencies. This is the story of Lincoln prison.” In her Introduction, Sabina E. Vaught passionately details why the subject of prisons and prison schooling is so important. An unprecedented institutional ethnography of race and gender power in one state’s juvenile prison school system, Compulsory will have major implications for public education everywhere.

Vaught argues that through its educational apparatus, the state disproportionately removes young Black men from their homes and subjects them to the abuses of captivity. She explores the various legal and ideological forces shaping juvenile prison and prison schooling, and examines how these forces are mechanized across multiple state apparatuses, not least school. Drawing richly on ethnographic data, she tells stories that map the repression of rightless, incarcerated youth, whose state captivity is the contemporary expression of age-old practices of child removal and counterinsurgency. 

Through a theoretically rigorous analysis of the daily experiences of prisoners, teachers, state officials, mothers, and more, Compulsory provides vital insight into the broad compulsory systems of schooling—both Inside prison and in the world Outside—asking readers to reconsider conventional understandings of the role, purpose, and value of state schooling today.

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The Crisis of Meaning

In Culture and Education

David Trend

The Crisis of Meaning was first published in 1995. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Pick up any newspaper and it is clear that the United States is facing a democratic crisis. Recent culture wars and debates about political correctness and culture have illustrated how conventional definitions of citizenship and national identity have been thrown into question.

Investigating what he views as an inseparable link between culture and politics, David Trend analyzes how notions of patriotism, citizenship, community, and family are communicated within specific public and private institutions. He extends the meaning and purpose of pedagogy as a cultural practice outside the classroom, focusing on political activism in education, the mass media, and the art world.

The Crisis of Meaning supplies a crucial theoretical understanding of the ways in which the pedagogical and political intersect at a variety of cultural sites, as it points us toward a "democratic" process of national identity formation. It is indispensable reading for anyone interested in the connections between education and politics.

David Trend is executive director of the Center for Social Research and Education in San Francisco and also executive editor of the Socialist Review. He is the author of Cultural Pedagogy: Art/Education/Politics (1992).

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Critical Condition

Replacing Critical Thinking with Creativity

Should we stop teaching critical thinking? Meant as a prompt to further discussion, Critical Condition questions the assumption that every student should be turned into a “critical thinker.”

The book starts with the pre-Socratics and the impact that Socrates’ death had on his student Plato and traces the increasingly violent use of critical “attack” on a perceived opponent. From the Roman militarization of debate to the medieval Church’s use of defence as a means of forcing confession and submission, the early phases of critical thinking were bound up in a type of attack that Finn suggests does not best serve intellectual inquiry. Recent developments have seen critical thinking become an ideology rather than a critical practice, with levels of debate devolving to the point where most debate becomes ad hominem. Far from arguing that we abandon critical inquiry, the author suggests that we emphasize a more open, loving system of engagement that is not only less inherently violent but also more robust when dealing with vastly more complex networks of information.

This book challenges long-held beliefs about the benefits of critical thinking, which is shown to be far too linear to deal with the twenty-first century world. Critical Condition is a call to action unlike any other.

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Deaf Epistemologies, Identity, and Learning

A Comparative Perspective

by Goedele A. M. De Clerck

Goedele A. M. De Clerck presents cross-cultural comparative research that examines and documents where deaf flourishing occurs and how it can be advanced. She spotlights collective and dynamic resources of knowledge and learning; the coexistence of lived differences; social, linguistic, cultural, and psychological capital; and human potential and creativity. Deaf Epistemologies, Identity, and Learning argues for an inclusive approach to the intrinsic human diversity in society, education, and scholarship, and shows how emotions of hope, frustration, and humiliation contribute to the construction of identity and community. De Clerck also considers global-local dynamics in deaf identity, deaf culture, deaf education, and deaf empowerment. She presents empirical research through case studies of the emancipation processes for deaf people in Flanders (a region of Belgium), the United States (specifically, at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC), and the West African nation of Cameroon. These three settings illuminate different phases of emancipation in different contexts, and the research findings are integrated into a broader literature review and subjected to theoretical reflection. De Clerck’s anthropology of deaf flourishing draws from her critical application of the empowerment paradigm in settings of daily life, research, leadership, and community work, as she explores identity and well-being through the interdisciplinary lens developed in this book. This work is centered around practices of signed storytelling and posits learning as the primary access and pathway to culture, identity, values, and change. Change driven by the learning process is considered an awakening—and through this awakening, the deaf community can gain hope, empowerment, and full citizenship. In this way, deaf people are allowed to shape their histories and the result is the elevation of all aspects of deaf lives around the world.

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The Decoding the Disciplines Paradigm

Seven Steps to Increased Student Learning

David Pace

Teaching and learning in a college setting has never been more challenging. How can instructors reach out to their students and fully engage them in the conversation? Applicable to multiple disciplines, the Decoding the Disciplines Paradigm offers a radically new model for helping students respond to the challenges of college and provides a framework for understanding why students find academic life so arduous. Teachers can help their pupils overcome obstacles by identifying bottlenecks to learning and systematically exploring the steps needed to overcome these obstacles. Often, experts find it difficult to define the mental operations necessary to master their discipline because they have become so automatic that they are invisible. However, once these mental operations have been made explicit, the teacher can model them for students, create opportunities for practice and feedback, manage additional emotional obstacles, assess results, and share what has been learned with others.

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Dewey, Russell, Whitehead

Philosophers as Educators

Brian Patrick Hendley

Hendley argues that philosophers of edu­cation should reject their preoccupation with defining terms and analyzing concepts and once again embrace the philosophical task of con­structing general theories of education.  Hendley believes that like Dewey, Russell, and Whitehead, philosophers should take a more ac­tive, practical role in education.

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