Hand-picked collections by special guests to help you sift through our archive

Education and Climate Crisis

by Iveta Silova
Professor and Director of the Center for the Advanced Studies in Global Education at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University

Is education a cause of or a solution to the climate crisis? This question has been at the core of my recent collaborative research with Hikaru Komatsu and Jeremy Rappleye. We’ve argued that education, especially the type of education rooted in the Western modernist paradigm, is directly implicated in the climate crisis, deliberately perpetuating the logic of economic growth, technocratic determinism, human exceptionalism, and liberal individualism at the expense of environmental concerns. As we prepare to face the irreversible ecological catastrophe, we need radical alternatives to the dominant education paradigm that continues to perpetuate the status quo.

Several FreshEd podcasts offer an excellent entry point into this urgent conversation. In ‘Less is More,’ Jason Hickel argues that our survival as a species requires a shift toward “not only a fundamentally different kind of economy but also a fundamentally different way of imagining our relationship to the living world.” While urging FreshEd listeners to think beyond the dogmas of capitalism to imagine a new economic system, Hickel’s work challenges us to reimagine education, too. How should education respond to a world of shifting planetary boundaries and collapsing ecosystems? What education policies, practices, and pedagogies can help reconfigure education – and re-situate the human – within the relational flow of life, rebalancing the connection between people and planet?

You can find some answers to these questions in the following podcasts, which approach the discussion of education and the climate crisis from multiple perspectives. In ‘Climate Change and Education Policy,Marcia McKenzie offers a great overview of the current state of affairs in the area of climate change and sustainability education, including the promises and pitfalls of global policy action – or inaction – to combat the climate crisis. In ‘Global Cities, Climate Change, and Academic Frontiers,’ Saskia Sassen reminds us of the importance of place-based knowledge in addressing the climate crisis. She argues that even global cities can be reimagined as “a type of socio-ecological system that has an expanding range of articulations with nature’s ecologies.” Finally, Arjen Wals challenges us to look deeper into our own selves. In ‘Climate Change, Education, and Sustainability,’ he argues that we need to nurture a more relational ontology that can help establish deeper connections between people, place, and other species. If you’d like to explore what we, as educators, can do to address the climate crisis in our own professional, academic, and personal lives, you can check out What is the role of education in times of climate crisis? Finally, FreshEd has a series of other excellent podcasts on the related themes of decolonialism, indigenous knowledges, feminist perspectives, and SDGs, which you can explore further. I hope these podcasts will inspire you to join this urgent conversation, too.

The Complexities of Teaching and Teacher Education

by Matthew A.M. Thomas
Senior Lecturer, Comparative Education and Sociology of Education, The University of Sydney

“Those who can’t do, teach.”
“Teachers are born, not made.”

These and other related myths belie the reality that teaching is an inherently complex endeavour. As someone who has worked as a public-school teacher, I can attest personally to the complexities of teaching. This is one of the reasons I so appreciated Armand Doucet’s episode, where he highlights the wide range of activities in which teachers are simultaneously engaged, such as: researching and preparing new content; designing, differentiating, and assessing learning activities; learning about, caring for, and supporting students; collaborating with educational leaders, teachers, parents, and community members; and so much more.

Thus, how do we prepare teachers for the immensity and importance of this role? I’ve been fascinated by this question for many years and devoted much of my professional career to researching and working in teacher education. In studying the interrelated policies, processes, and pedagogies that enable or constrain the preparation of teachers, several additional FreshEd episodes have offered valuable insights.

Maria Teresa Tatto and Ian Menter discuss in their episode a study comparing initial teacher education in England and the United States. They provide a critical analysis of the various pathways to becoming a teacher in these two countries, including the Teach For America and Teach First UK programs. In another episode, Linda Darling-Hammond similarly draws on a comparative study of education systems across Australia, Canada, China, Finland, and Singapore. Her findings foreground political and programmatic conditions that enhance educational systems and teacher education, including adequate funding for pre-service teachers as well as sufficient time for them to digest and conduct educational research. Finally, Shenila Khoja-Moolji reminds us to consider the knowledge structures and pedagogies utilised in teacher education. She critically examines her own roles and embodiments during an in-service teacher training program in Pakistan, with the goal of supporting a more sustainable and equitable teacher education.

These four episodes highlight some of the complexities of teaching and teacher education, and I am immensely thankful to these (and other) FreshEd guests for sharing their insights. Debunking the myths above is an ongoing project, however, so I look forward to hearing future episodes featuring stellar guests who are researching teaching and teacher education. Are you next?

Globalization and Affect

by Irving Epstein
Ben and Susan Rhodes Professor of Peace and Social Justice
Illinois Wesleyan University

The intellectual journey I have most recently pursued focuses upon the use of affect theory as a tool for better comprehending comparative educational practices and policies. As this work has compelled me to refine my understanding of globalization processes, I have found three FreshEd speakers to have had a particularly significant influence upon my thinking. They include Jane Kenway, who shared her insights regarding the possibilities of engaging in multi-cited global ethnography, Raewyn Connell, who commented about Decolonization and Education, and Arjun Appadurai, who spoke about the nature of failure in the age of Covid-19.

In her podcast, Jane Kenway reiterated the possibilities of re-conceptualizing comparative education by referencing the works of George Marcus and James Clifford. She then applied their insights to her global study of social class, elitism, and education in seven different settings. By reconsidering traditional notions of space, time, and mobility, she and her colleagues created a research model that is as captivating as it is insightful.

I have been a fan of Raewyn Connell’s work for many years, but listening to her podcast on Decolonization and Education was especially gratifying. Her erudition and respect for knowledge forms emanating from the Global South was as impressive as was her ability to forcefully highlight the interconnectedness and vibrancy with which ideas are constructed, shared, and appreciated. In so doing, one could not have offered a more convincing testimony for the power of affect in helping to frame the varieties of human experience from which our knowledge forms are drawn.

Finally, Arjun Appadurai’s analysis of the nature of failure, as a globalized phenomenon, has forced me to reconsider some of the assumptions I have made regarding the nature of affect. I have viewed the fear of failure as a primary motivation for the creation of numerous educational practices that prevent the expression of interconnection and meaning-making. In this podcast, Appadurai comments upon the globalized embrace of failure in the Covid-19 era.  as reflecting a new and dangerous collective sensibility. Although his conclusions contradict some of my own views, what I loved about this episode was Appadurai’s willingness to explore ideas that are not fully formed but are being refined in the moment. Such self-exposure represents a remarkable act of intellectual courage for which we are all beneficiaries. Together, these scholars allow us to intimately listen to the ways in which they grapple with new ideas, reconsider previously held assumptions, and apply theoretical musings to radically different settings. I am deeply appreciative of their efforts.

Learning Whiteness

by Arathi Sriprakash
Professor of Education, University of Bristol

I’m currently writing a book with two fabulous colleagues, Sophie Rudolph and Jessica Gerrard, which explores how education systems and practices produce and sustain structures of whiteness. Our argument is that whiteness is ‘learned’ through three interconnected dimensions of education: the epistemic, the material, and the affective.

A number of FreshEd speakers have helped me think through these interconnected dimensions, and here I recommend a few episodes that I hope you’ll also find thought-provoking. The first is by Suhanthie Motha who discusses how English language education is predicated on race and empire. To me, it is an example of how education is steeped in epistemic hierarchies that serve whiteness. The second is Leigh Patel’s discussion on settler colonialism which tunes us into the materiality of education systems; these are systems that rest on ongoing colonial extraction and dispossession. (It got me thinking about how we need to analyse the global education industry, the subject of Gita Steiner-Khamsi’s episode, through the lens of racial capitalism).  And finally, I found Irving Epstein’s discussion of the role of affect in forming hegemonic approaches to education policy and practice fascinating. The episode helped me think about the numerous affective registers that sustain whiteness in education, from the anxieties and fears of ‘too much’ diversity in institutions to the denial and defensiveness of whiteness in curricula, policy and so on.

I hope you enjoy listening to these episodes and connecting the many ideas contained in FreshEd’s archives to your research and practice.

No going back?

by Will Brehm
FreshEd Host and Lecturer, UCL Institute of Education

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about endless calls for systematic reform in education. But what sort of educational structure should we aim to reform?

With reform excitement in the air, I find it valuable to step back and think about the systems of education from a more critical viewpoint. It is in this perspective that I recommend three FreshEd episodes to help us think through our current moment. The first is a conversation with Leigh Patel who discusses the ways in which settler colonialism structures American society, including the academy. The second is a conversation with David Harvey who gives a Marxist critique of higher education. Finally, the third podcast is with Parfait Eloundou who discusses the assumption of meritocracy in education generally and the lack of a class analysis in the Sustainable Development Goals specifically. Together these three episodes show deep structures —  colonialism, capitalism, and meritocracy — that will need to be overcome if any meaningful reform in education will result from coronavirus.