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Green and Cormack note that the most interesting and conceptually rich work in curriculum has increasingly addressed itself to questions of textuality, language and discourse, noting further that previously there had been little explicit recognition or acknowledgment in the field as a whole of the importance of language in and for schooling, as well as for knowledge, identity and power. Clearly, his research introduced the construct of social epistemology to Curriculum Studies.

He co-authored Educational knowledge: Changing relationships between the state, civil society, and the educational community and Foucault's challenge: Discourse, knowledge, and power in education Popkewitz draws on the work of philosopher Michel Foucault already in Foucault Challenge. The Political Sociology of Educational Reform takes the sociology of knowledge into dialogue with Foucault and other continental philosophical work. The analysis demonstrates the assemblages of systems of reason and illustrates the shifts within different moments and under different cultural, statist, and global pressures.

Popkewitz engages in fundamental questions about social exclusion in national school reform efforts. Popkewitz explores historically and sociologically how a comparative style of thought enters into school reform to recognize difference. In his view, difference produces distinctions and differentiations that leads to exclusion and abjection.

Struggling for the Soul combines Foucauldian power-knowledge nexus with ethnographic research of teachers in urban and rural schools. The book's focus on urban education is significant as reforming urban education has been a major social policy and research effort since WWII. The volume's thesis is that different ideological positions about school reform and concepts of equity and justice often maintain the same principles of ordering, classifying and dividing, keeping problematic and restricted notions of identity still in play.

Systems of reason are arbitrary, historical, and culturally constituted. Popkewitz examines how the rules and standards of reason in various disciplinary fields are translated and transformed within the practices of schooling; how historically formed systems of ideas construct our sense of identity; and, how these systems of reason are part of institutional standards and power relations.

Through ethnographic,[7] textual and historical studies,[8] he has "made visible" the principles that order and shape how teachers organize, observe, supervise, and evaluate students and has illuminated the ways these systems produce norms that serve to exclude students who are poor or of color. Popkewitz has developed a number of new constructs to engage in empirical research related to education: double gestures, traveling libraries and the indigenous foreigner, cosmopolitanism as a cultural thesis, the alchemy of school subjects, and salvific themes in secular objects.


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What appears to be a unidirectional spread or diffusion of discourses is a far more complex appropriation of available tools enmeshed with localized systems of reason Finally, through his examination of what he calls salvific themes in secular objects, Popkewitz challenges the secularization thesis of modernity as it relates to the school. He proposes a radical critique of how the European and American enlightenments helped to constitute what count as good knowledge, good method, good care, and good education through the formation of the very academic disciplines.

Through integrating a variety of postfoundationalist literatures, cultural histories, and accounts of American exceptionalism, Popkewitz has demonstrated how narratives that emerged through a particular Protestant reformism shaped dominant education discourse. He is the first scholar in curriculum studies in the US to reference how religious discourses about salvation and redemption were inscribed in educational practices and research.

His major contributions in this area include The study of schooling: Field methodologies in educational research and evaluation , Teacher education: A critical examination of its folklore, theory, and practice , The formation of the school subject-matter: The struggle for creating an American institution , Critical theories in education: Changing terrains of knowledge and politics , Cultural history and education: Critical studies on knowledge and schooling , Governing children, families, and education: Restructuring the welfare state , and Education research and policy: Steering the knowledge-based economy Postiglione, G.

Comparative Education 30 1 , From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved Winter Curriculum Inquiry. Peter Lang. New Curriculum History. In seminal research, Laupa and Turiel, examined the beliefs held by 84 children in Grades 1, 3, and 5 about source of knowledge and views of authority. In the school, certain children in Grades 4 and 5 were given a measure of authority and trained to intervene in non violent conflict situations between younger children. Most children viewed the transgressions in the events negatively, basing justifications primarily on welfare and fairness.

Across all age ranges, children accepted the authority commands in some events and rejected them in others. For example, children accepted the authority command to stop fighting, however rejected the authority command to continue fighting. Recently, Hofer argued that the field of personal epistemology needs to move beyond a developmental, psychological framework to consider broader contexts and how such contexts impact on personal epistemology.

In this study, these sources included an examination of school contexts and policies for moral learning; stimulated recall interviews with two teachers based on video observations of classroom practice; and scenario-based interviews with children in each of the classrooms of the two teachers who participated in the case studies.

Personal Epistemology

Principals, teachers, parents, guardians and children agreed to participate in this study prior to data collection. While consent was obtained by the parents or guardians and teachers, the children expressed their willingness to participate by drawing a smiley face to indicate they agreed to participate or frowning face to mean they did not want to participate. Thirty-five children agreed to participate in present study.

Each of the sources of data are now described in more detail. During this initial analysis of teacher interviews, the personal epistemologies of the teachers were analysed.

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The two teachers, from two separate schools, were selected from this original group of teachers because they represented divergent personal epistemologies and pedagogies. For School 1, we used the school's handbook while for School 2 we used the school mission statement available to parents on the school's website. It is important to acknowledge that this is an indirect method of obtaining evidence of cognitive activity, and therefore this is taken into consideration when evaluating findings.

Photographs taken during a period of observation in the classroom were presented during the stimulated recall interviews to encourage teachers to discuss their actions and interactions. The teachers were asked to describe their moral pedagogy and their role in teaching children moral values. In sum, the stimulated recall interviews provided teachers with the opportunity to talk about their views about pedagogy for moral values and their personal epistemologies. While the interviews were semi-structured and involved a series of set questions, the interviewer at times would use prompts to clarify points or encourage the interviewee to expand upon an area of interest.

This was in an attempt to elicit as clear an understanding as possible of the observed practice from the perspective of the teacher. The interviews, which lasted approximately one hour, were audio-recorded and later transcribed for analysis. This approach involved three main steps. Second, thematic analysis was used to search for patterns and themes related to teaching and learning of morals in the school.

Analysis involved the comparison of meaning statements with other meaning statements, and then with emergent themes and finally comparing the themes with other themes Step 3 in data analysis spiral until a point of saturation was reached where no new themes emerged. This approach enabled themes to become evident in the data first. This was followed by a comparison of these themes with the existing research related to personal epistemology. This reflects what Braun and Clarke , p. The scenario interview protocol was adapted from Killen et al.

At the beginning of the interview, children were provided with two scenarios relating to issues of inclusion around gender and culture. As the scenarios were read, the children were presented with picture cards to represent the characters. A series of set questions were then posed to probe into issues of inclusion around different genders or cultures. These questions asked children to comment on the influence that peers or teachers may exert on their decisions in regards to inclusion of different genders or cultures. The example is based on gender and a similar scenario was used related to culture.

Jessica is in Grade 1. Luke is a new boy in her class. Luke wants to make new friends so at lunch time he asks Jessica if she wants to play. Evaluation: Do you think it is okay for Jessica not to play with Luke because he is a boy? Do you think it is okay then? For a Judgement of Okay Q3O.

Their responses to these questions were used to understand their enacted personal epistemologies. They advocated for such approaches to investigating personal epistemology because they measure beliefs in action in the classroom. The open-ended questions used in this study related to everyday school life, including their understandings of their choices and decisions in the classroom and playground and who makes the rules in school. The child interviews were conducted by three researchers from the research team. Each of these researchers had been trained in the conduct of these interviews.

The quality of the interviews was increased by establishing trust.

Thomas S. Popkewitz

The interviewers spent some time observing the classroom activities and becoming familiar with the children and the context prior to the interview process. It was important to ensure that children felt comfortable so the interviews took place outside the classroom within view of the teacher in most cases.

If children indicated that inclusion was important, but only in certain contexts and under certain conditions, they were described as having subjectivist personal epistemologies. That is, did they see themselves as constructors of knowledge about the rules and decision making subjectivist beliefs or were the teachers the ultimate sources of this knowledge absolutist beliefs?

These relationships represented patterns in the data. For example, did teachers with evaluativist personal epistemologies use pedagogies that supported the learning of moral values based on connections with others and sharing of power with children, and did the children in their class evidence more sophisticated personal epistemologies? Further, were these personal epistemologies and pedagogies reflected in the school policies?

Case study findings We first examined the various sources of data for each school to investigate the relationships at a school level. Next, these relationships were explored across the case studies to compare the findings for the two schools. Table 2 is a summary of the teacher data including school context information, teacher demographics, moral pedagogies and personal epistemologies. While catering for day students, the school also offers boarding arrangements. A holistic approach towards education is endorsed.

The school philosophy presented in policy documents and handbooks places emphasis on values related to leadership, responsibility, respect, self-control, and care for self, others and the environment. Qualities such as confidence, happiness, thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence, participation and service are also highlighted. The preparatory classroom philosophy expresses similar values, including the importance of children acting responsibly so as to bring credit to the school, their family and themselves. A sense of belonging to a community and the acquisition of strong fundamentals are also valued.

Associated Data

Students are encouraged to act with the wellbeing of others in mind, acting courteously, with consideration and respect. There is the requirement to respect property and encouragement for children to develop positive self-control. Students are expected to apply themselves to tasks and have the right to work in a safe, friendly environment. This is could be reflective of school policy, which encourages teachers to act as role models for students.

The school policy also highlights the importance of reinforcing appropriate consequences for behaviour, which may be why there is a strong focus on rules and rewards. In the beginning of the year we do a lot of how we greet people We shake hands, they look at us in the eye People come in, we welcome them Teacher 1, , p.

Class rules, such as welcoming visitors to the room and listening are also mentioned by Teacher 1. When presented with a photograph showing the children participating in group work in her classroom, the teacher talked more about rewards and following what others do. When asked about a photo in which the children in groups were rewarded with gold coins for taking turns effectively, Teacher 1 commented: We had rewards for groups working together, listening carefully.

Because you often find kids, your strong one want to do everything. So this was a way of trying to make everybody have turns, respecting each other, giving each other turns. Games and discussions about behaviours were also mentioned by Teacher 1 as strategies for teaching children moral values, thus highlighting that while modelling is important, sometimes it is necessary for children to discuss or participate in activities to learn moral values.

I can teach morals and values maybe in the way I model or the way I talk to the kids, but somebody else may be really good at storytelling What I might think may be a different opinion, but we all interpret things differently. Thus, while certain moral values could be right or wrong, how they are taught is up to each individual, which reflects a subjectivist personal epistemology. Teacher 1 also highlights that she believes that through observing her talk and actions, children can learn moral values.

Observing more mature teachers at that stage in my life, …as in, oh that would be a nice way to speak to the kids or that would be a better way to model They were also asked to respond to the questions in the scenario about gender and race. Table 3 provides a summary of the categories of responses and the frequency of these responses. In response to the open-ended interview questions about choices and deciding on rules, 13 children out of 19 responses in School 1 believed they could make such choices in class, while 14 children out of 18 responses believed they could make choices in the playground.

All children in School 1 expressed the view that children must be included regardless of gender or race. The school is relatively small and there is a high teacher to student ratio with students organised into three multi-age groups early years, middle years, and older primary. The school maintains that each child works at their own pace and therefore, children are not exclusively organised by age and may at times move between the groups.

The concept of community is emphasised, with each member of the school viewed as playing an important role. A weekly whole-school meeting, run by the children, provides a forum where children, staff and parents can raise and work through school-related issues. The school website also highlights the school behaviour management plan, which is based on conflict resolution techniques. Drawing upon this strategy, children are encouraged to negotiate and problem-solve, working to manage their own feelings and behaviours.

Central to relationship-based teaching is a sense of respect for both families and children see Author et al. The power, in a certain extent, is shared as equally as we can share it. I have a lot of communication with parents. Parent partnerships basically drive everything We often talk to children as a team. Teacher 2, , p. She noted that while some knowledge is changeable, some knowledge is also more absolute in nature. She also expressed the concept that some opinions can be more valid if backed by evidence such as research and training. People who have educated themselves in issues; people that have read and researched and thought.

People who are trained, such as teachers, who went to college; counsellors and professionals. When children talked about who decides the rules, eight children out of 12 responses indicated they could decide the rules in class. See Table 3 for a summary of these data. Like School 1, all children at School 2 believed that children should be included regardless of gender or race.

Teacher 2 expressed a more sophisticated personal epistemology which was described as evaluativism. This teacher viewed children as competent and responsible and believed that children need to be given the democratic power to express their ideas and engage in problem solving.

Teachers with evaluativistic beliefs are likely to teach in ways that support power sharing and meaningful understanding because from this epistemic stance there is no ultimate authority on knowledge Author et al. Such evidenced-based approaches to learning and teaching moral values are necessary in the promotion of active citizenship because they enable children to have a voice and take responsibility.

This approach is also less likely to promote active citizenship in the early years because children are not required to participate in decision making that affects themselves or others Moss, Within a classroom context this approach may not give children many opportunities to make meaningful choices about their actions during the school day. We have described these as evidence of subjectivist responses because they reflect a view of knowledge as personally constructed rather than an absolutist view that knowledge is transmitted from teacher to child. When the interview data were examined in more detail for the type of choices the children believed they had within each of the classrooms, some interesting differences between the schools emerged.

A further six children in School 1 believed they could choose to draw, play games or participate in reading activities. Nine children in School 1 discussed when they were able to make choices in class, and of these the majority indicated that they were only given choices occasionally, for example, before they went home, at break time or when the teacher said so. The responses of the children in School 2 provided different examples of the choices they believed they were making in class. Here, 10 children out of 12 responses believed that they could make choices in class.

For example, one child in School 2 discussed the democratic notions of class discussions and voting in the classroom in relation to choices: Like we have our own meeting and sometimes we choose what we are going to do - work on. And we like write it down and we get to pick which one.

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Interviewer: So people have different ideas and then you write them down and you have to choose one? Yeah and they get like votes. Child 6, , p. When children talked about who decides the rules, eight children at School 2 expressed that they could decide the rules in class, while in School 1, there was only one child who believed he decided the rules subjectivism.


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All children in both schools indicated that children should be included regardless of gender or race. We have labelled these responses as absolutist because children indicated that that there was a right answer, one correct response and not something that might be contested. This supports previous research that shows children are more likely to be absolutist only one right answer in the domain of value judgments with children far less tolerant of moral diversity than diversity in other domains Kuhn et al.

It is likely that children have learnt that some values are obligatory and absolute i. Laupa and Turiel also examined young children's views about the source of knowledge related to authorities. They interviewed children about what they thought about a conflict in the playground and then they were asked about following the directions of both peers and adults. They accepted the directions of the authority to stop fighting, but rejected the directions to continue fighting.

Previous research see e. This study has helped us to understand how the school philosophy might be related to the personal epistemologies of teachers and children. The two schools varied quite distinctly in the policies articulated. School 1, as an independent Christian school, valued leadership, responsibility, respect, self-control, and care with a view that essentially boys learn differently to girls.

Educational psychology

There was also a focus on acquiring strong fundamental values. Here the concept of community is emphasised, with each member of the school viewed as constructing knowledge about moral values. This was not mentioned in the policy documents for School 1, while School 2 described the need to respect children and empower them to take responsibility.

This contextual information is important for understanding personal epistemologies for moral pedagogy. This could be due to teachers being drawn to working in particular school settings, or it could be because they have been enculturated in the local knowledge of the school, as part of the school culture. Teacher 2, who espouses complex evaluativist beliefs, teaches in a school context which advocates a similar epistemology of co-construction.

This indicates that they had more opportunities to construct their own moral knowledge, reflecting a subjectivist personal epistemology. Teacher 1 who is described as holding less sophisticated beliefs about knowing and knowledge, teaches in a school context which seems to reflect a similar epistemology. Implications Very little research has focused on the relationships between personal epistemology, teaching, learning and school contexts Feucht, Hofer has also called for research that considers personal epistemologies in broader contexts, rather than simply taking a developmental view.

While these findings are illuminating at the local case study level, there are broader, international implications that can be discerned. It is evident that the case study findings showed a relationship between personal epistemologies, teaching and moral learning which is also supported by research in other domains of learning Johnston et al. Both the case studies presented in this paper and the broader research field point to an important consideration in promoting effective moral education for citizenship.

While the current study may not be generalisable to other populations due to the small sample size, Yin , p. Thus the findings of this study have important theoretical implications for educational practice internationally. Specifically, the clear links evident in our findings between the epistemic climate of the schools, the epistemic beliefs of the teachers and the extent to which children felt empowered to make choices and decisions in schools demonstrate the importance of a focus on personal epistemology for promoting agentic children in learning about morals.

Conversely, when school policies are silent on issues such as supporting active citizenship, teachers may be less inclined to engage in constructivist pedagogies and less likely to encourage children to have a voice in decision making. A further limitation of this study may be the varied ages of children in the two classes, with school 2 having a greater number of older children in the class. There can be developmental differences in children's moral reasoning between ages school 1 and school 2 , however we were not measuring reasoning skills but beliefs about knowledge and knowing.

Recent literature suggests that children up to age 10 or 11 years are likely to hold absolutist personal epistemologies in the domain of moral values. For example, Mason et al. This suggests that the age variation evident across the two schools in our study is acceptable for examining personal epistemologies for moral learning Kuhn et al. While this study has described case studies from an Australian context, it seems likely that a focus on the epistemologies of teachers, children and the school provide a lens for understanding the epistemic climates Feucht, of schools around the world, specifically the epistemic climate for moral education.

Our study has also described the epistemic climates of two schools in a similar way to the EMPE Model; however, we have chosen to focus on moral learning specifically. The epistemic knowledge representations in our study are reflective of the broader school context and policy documents about moral education. Feucht argues that it is important to help teachers to develop an understanding of how their personal epistemologies and those of the school contexts might have an influence on the epistemic climate in their classroom.

We add our support to this contention by arguing that there needs to be a whole of school approach to understanding personal epistemologies and how they are enacted in practice. There also needs to be closer attention paid to the role of families as part of this broader school context.

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It is clear that in order to understand teaching and learning for moral values across any context, it is important to both understand the individual factors related to personal epistemologies and the broader school values and epistemologies. This study has contributed to a growing research literature that considers personal epistemology not as a psychological construct but as a complex social phenomenon that needs to be addressed from a number of perspectives — teachers, children and the school.

References Author et al. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, Burr, J. Personal epistemology and theory of mind: deciphering young children's beliefs about knowledge and knowing. New Ideas in Psychology, 20 , Carpendale, J.