Announcements

  • Call for Submissions: Preparing Teachers for Diversity in the Neoliberal and Neoconservative “North”

    2022-10-25

    Unprecedented sociocultural and political changes in recent years have informed a complex transformation of the global landscape of education. Immigration, globalisation, and internationalisation have contributed to redefining educational spaces from kindergarten to higher education (Clandinin & Husu, 2017), playing a critical role in reshaping the traditional classroom. Embodiments of diversity have moved from being occasional to becoming an integral component of the educational experience of teachers and students (Aydin & Kaya, 2017; Miller, 2009), opening social spaces for students’ diverse identities to be enacted and affirmed against traditional discourses of difference as deficit (Alford, 2014; Hogan & Haltinner, 2015). Teacher education continues to struggle with adequately preparing current and future teachers to critically understand, respond to, and teach through and for diversity in a manner that moves beyond superficiality (Howard & Milner, 2021; Wells, 2008). Diversity is a complex construct that embraces culture, language, religion, gender, sex, age, ability, race, and ethnicity (Banks, 2015). Teachers are expected to meet the learning needs of very distinct student groups within the same space (Miller, 2009). The gap between the learning needs of students and the pedagogical practices of teachers remains wide, significantly impacting, in particular, refugee, first and second generation, immigrant, and Indigenous students (Mcduff et al., 2018; Taylor & Sidhu, 2012). While diversity may be becoming more of the norm around the world, challenges remain. We identify and focus on two in the Nordic/Northern contexts: neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism.

    Neo-conservative groups tend to construe diversity as a threat to political and social stability, framing it negatively as interfering with the vision of one nation-people-language (Nowicka, 2018; Perry & Scrivens, 2019). Such ideologies have had a direct impact on education when it comes to the inclusion, well-being, and sense of belonging of students and teachers of diverse and minoritized backgrounds (Shirazi & Jaffe-Walter, 2021). Diversity in education is also being undermined by neoliberal policies and discourses, which appropriate diversity for marketing purposes in ways that benefit institutions, rather than actually confronting and changing “racial and other forms of inequalities that exist in our social system” (Kubota, 2015, p. 9). The neoliberal imperative to compete and produce results globally has also challenged the vision of “a school for all” (Blossing et al., 2014). As in many parts of the world, Nordic education has experienced a standardization of education, driven by neo-liberal and neo-conservative politicians and educational reformers. International comparisons and the assessment of educational outcomes through standardized tests have now become popular (Biesta, 2020; Kvernbekk, 2018). 

    Despite variations among them, the Nordic countries – Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, along with their territories— are often viewed as a group of nations with parallel historical and political developments towards the well-functioning welfare state. As noted by Imsen et al. (2016), the Nordic countries have supported education as a public good and promoted a socially inclusive model, utilizing it as a deliberate means to support egalitarian values and social justice (see also Blossing et al., 2014). Moreover, education in the Nordic countries is characterized as a public form of ownership — a child-centered pedagogy with ‘inclusive ideals’ although recent political trends, as we discuss below, have begun to challenge these values and practices. 

    The challenge of raising academic achievement for all students has put diversity high on the educational agenda everywhere, including in the Nordic countries (Darling-Hammond & Lieberman, 2012; OECD, 2014). For example, meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse student population is at the forefront of the latest teacher education reforms in Norway in a bid to “qualify teachers that are able to develop school as an institution for social and academic learning in a democratic and diverse society” (Norway Ministry of Education, 2016, p. 1). The latest Finnish national curriculum has changed from a perspective of ‘us’ tolerating ‘them’ to a more critical perspective emphasizing equality, diversity, and social justice for all students (Hummelstedt-Djedou et al., 2018). Teacher education programs in Icelandic universities have emphasized the need to implement culturally responsive teaching in light of the growing immigrant student population (Gunnthórsdóttir & Ragnarsdóttir, 2020). Swedish and Finnish curricula for special needs students have started to move away from a deficit perspective and instead “underline the importance of focusing on the strengths and possibilities of the pupils” (Takala et al., 2019, p. 28).

    Despite curricular initiatives, how to approach diversity in the classroom remains a challenge for teacher education in the Nordic context (Cochran-Smith, 2013; Hummelstedt-Djedou et al., 2018). Despite curricular reforms, little seems to have changed in how future teachers are to teach in a rapidly evolving context (Anderstaf et al., 2021). Merely focusing on “what works” may restrict the discussion of what is valuable and necessary in education (Biesta, 2018; Kvernbekk, 2018). Within a standardized education, teachers run the risk of conducting their teaching from an assumed neutral position, which is mostly equivalent with a majority culture perspective. Teacher education in the Nordic context is thus faced with the challenge of enhancing a critical stance against neo-conservatism, neoliberalism and the myth of the neutrality of schools, all of which obscure cultural and linguistic hierarchies, power relations, and other mechanisms that reinforce social inequalities. This special issue is thus motivated by the question: How can teachers resist neo-conservativism and neo-liberalism so as to create more equitable opportunities for all students in their classrooms? 

    The Nordic context should be seen only as a point of departure, one located in the broader geographical “North,” where these same issues are at work. For instance, in Quebec, Canada, a new language law of large scope recently adopted by the government points to yet another threat to diversity. Bill 96 is intended to “protect” the French language by “limiting the use of English in the courts and public services and imposing tougher language requirements on small businesses and municipalities” (Stevenson, 2022, para. 3). In the domain of education, Bill 96 “caps the number of students who can attend English-language colleges, known as CEGEPs, and increases the number of French courses [which] students at the colleges must take” (paras. 3-4). The bill also directly impacts minorities in the province, such as refugees, who will have “to learn French within six months of arrival, after which they can no longer access services in another language” (para. 15). Indigenous groups in Quebec have also expressed concern over the requirement that their students in English-speaking colleges take mandatory courses in French, imposing an “extra burden” on the students (CBC News, 2022, para. 13), who already face structural obstacles in maintaining their languages in educational contexts. Similar trends can be observed in Alberta, Canada where conservative and entrepreneurial interests have promoted inclusivity while simultaneously neglecting certain groups of students and approaching individual difference as a problem (Gilham & Williamson, 2014). As Gilham (2014) points out, inclusive education in Alberta “is entangled in a long, dark history of exclusion.”

    The contemporary state of education in the neoliberal-neoconservative “North” calls for urgent reflection and action: both of undoing and redoing. In this special issue, we ask how teacher education in Nordic/Northern contexts responds to and can resist growing local, national and international neoliberal and neoconservative orientations so as to promote more equitable, socially just opportunities for classroom learning. We welcome theoretical, conceptual, creative, and empirical articles that offer relevant perspectives around the challenges, opportunities, best practices, and lessons learned. We welcome contributions from diverse perspectives and fields in education/teacher education (e.g., language education, religious education, inclusive education, sociology of education, early childhood education, etc.). Collaborative works across contexts, particularly 

    Canadian perspectives, are also welcomed. We invite articles that can contribute to any of the following thematic strands:

    • The impact of neoliberalism and/or neoconservatism on teacher education, such as on the policies, curricula, or the work, beliefs, and identities of teachers and teacher educators;
    • The tensions between social justice-oriented multicultural education and neoliberal multicultural education within and across Northern contexts, for instance, in the everyday realities of teachers and teacher educations in light of policy or curriculum changes;
    • Local, national, and international “move(ment)s” of resistance against neoliberal influences on teacher education;
    • Reimaginations and redefinitions of teacher education for equity, diversity, and social justice through diverse theories, knowledges, and practices.

    All articles will be peer-reviewed (double-blind). We also welcome Notes from the Field (which will be reviewed by the editors), proposals for a MJE Forum, for book reviews that are relevant to the special issue, and for Artful Inquiry. All submissions should follow the MJE guidelines (https://mje.mcgill.ca/about/submissions). This includes adhering to the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Only full articles (or other kinds of submissions) will be considered (viz., no abstracts). Submissions must be made through the Journal website and identified for the “Special Issue: Preparing Teachers for Diversity in the Neoliberal and Neoconservative ‘North’”. If you have any questions about the suitability of your submission for the special issue, please contact the guest editors, Vander Tavares (vander.tavares@inn.no) and Thor-André Skrefsrud (thor.skrefsrud@inn.no), directly. For any additional questions or concerns, please contact the MJE Managing Editors (mje.education@mcgill.ca).

    Please note that submissions are due by August 1st, 2023

    Guest Editorial Team

    Vander Tavares (Postdoctoral Researcher) & Thor-André Skrefsrud (Professor)

    Faculty of Education, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (Norwegian: Høgskolen i Innlandet)

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  • Call for Submissions: Research-based Theatre in Education

    2022-01-06

    Research-based Theatre (RbT) is an innovative, arts-based methodology that uses theatre and drama approaches to stimulate dialogue and foster new understandings of critical and complex social issues (Belliveau & Lea, 2016). It is an umbrella term encompassing a wide variety of approaches to this integration of theatre and research. By engaging with various genres of theatre production and performance such as (but not limited to) playbuilding, readers’ theatre, forum theatre, playback theatre, and shadow puppetry, RbT draws upon the strengths of both artistic and academic modes of expression. As RbT is a form of public scholarship, practitioners must carefully consider the intended audience(s) of their work as they navigate the aesthetic and academic demands of the methodology (Beck, Belliveau, Lea & Wager, 2011). Findings from audiences who have witnessed RbT (e.g., Belliveau & Nichols, 2017) indicate that the perceived authenticity and liveness of RbT performances can lead to significant growth in understanding complex and challenging subject matters, such as bullying in schools, people living with disabilities, mental health stigma, and the impacts of Indian Residential Schools. These findings suggest vast potential for interweaving research and theatrical practices across both formal and informal educational settings.

    In this special issue, we invite contributors to examine how RbT may be used to address complex issues related to equity, diversity, inclusion, oppression, anti-racism, and stigma in education. We welcome submissions that consider RbT and diverse communities in education across Canada and internationally, from childhood to adulthood in classrooms as well as community settings. Emphasizing the importance of both traditional scholarship and artistic creation in RbT, we encourage a broad range of submissions including but not limited to:

    • Research articles that describe studies using RbT in education;
    • Narrative reflections on RbT creation practices in education;
    • Scripts or script selections, or other creative outputs, such as poems or visual work related to RbT in education, or video recordings of RbT pieces.

    In the sharing of their work, we encourage authors to consider the following questions:

    • What are the affordances and constraints of integrating RbT into research in education, and how might these impact future development of the methodology?
    • How has your identity as an academic/scholar informed your RbT-related practice, and how has your RbT-related practice informed your academic/scholarly practice?
    • What works fall within the scope of Research-based Theatre, and how does the field negotiate the intentionally porous boundaries of Research-based Theatre?
    • How do we navigate the liminal space between research context and theatre, and how does this transform research?
    • How can RbT, a methodology rooted in liveness, be adapted to work in synchronous and asynchronous online spaces?

    RbT is a collaborative and flexible methodology that educators, students, and researchers can co-lead as fellow collaborators and inquirers. A relevant method of inquiry and knowledge exchange for working with marginalized or underrepresented communities, RbT seeks to create spaces for those who are the experts in their own experiences to shape the telling of their narratives. We are especially interested in submissions that reflect on collaborative education based RbT projects and investigations of issues related to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

    We welcome submissions in English for this special issue. All academic articles will be peer-reviewed. Creative works, such as dramatic scenes, videos, and podcasts, will be considered as part of MJE’s Artistic and Creative Inquiries section. Where possible, these submissions will be peer-reviewed. We also welcome submissions to The MJE Forum and Notes from the Field (including works that cannot be blinded for peer review); however, such submissions will be reviewed by the guest editors and will not be peer-reviewed. Further details on each type of submission including length can be found on the MJE submission guidelines.

    Submissions should conform to the McGill Journal of Education submission guidelines (https://mje.mcgill.ca/about/submissions). This includes adhering to the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Where possible, please provide a blinded copy of your document in Word format. Submissions are to be made through the journal website and should be identified for the Special Issue: Research-based Theatre in Education. Please send the full submission along with full contact information by January 17th, 2023. 

    Deadline for Submissions: January 17th, 2023

    For any inquiries, please contact Dr. Graham Lea at graham.lea@umanitoba.ca, or the MJE Managing Editor, Catherine Bienvenu, at mje.education@mcgill.ca.

    Guest Editorial Team

    Graham W. Lea, Assistant Professor

    Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba

     

    George Belliveau, Professor & Head

    Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia

     

    References

    Beck, J. L., Belliveau, G., Lea, G. W., & Wager, A. (2011). Delineating a spectrum of research-based theatre. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(8), 687-700. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800411415498

    Belliveau, G., & Lea, G. W. (Eds.). (2016). Research-based theatre: An artistic methodology. Intellect.

    Belliveau, G., & Nichols, J. (2017). Audience responses to Contact!Unload: A Canadian research-based play about returning military veterans. Cogent Arts & Humanities, 4(1), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311983.2017.1351704

    Read more about Call for Submissions: Research-based Theatre in Education