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Education and social justice in a digital age

Education and social justice in a digital age

Rosamund Sutherland
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  • Book Info
    Education and social justice in a digital age
    Book Description:

    In many countries the school curriculum oscillates between focusing on traditional subjects and focusing on skills that are linked to the needs of the 21st-century digital age. Rosamund Sutherland argues against such a skills-based curriculum, maintaining that, from a social justice perspective, the priority of schools should be to give young people access to the knowledge that they are not likely to learn outside school. She draws on the work of Michael Young, Lev Vygotsky, Amartya Sen and David Olson to develop new theoretical and practical insights that offer ways of changing policy and practice to improve equality and life chances for young people, while acknowledging the potential transformative role of digital technologies. This timely book will be invaluable to teachers, academics, students and policy makers interested in the ways in which the digital landscape transforms the nature of the debate about equity and social justice in education.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0526-2
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Rosamund Sutherland
  2. CHAPTER ONE An unfolding story
    (pp. 1-14)

    This book has been inspired by my desire to write about the persistent and pervasive injustices within the English education system, injustices that I believe are as severe today as they were when I was a young girl in the 1950s. In writing this book, I aim to challenge current policy and practice by presenting a coherent argument about the ways in which the school system could change in order to address issues of education and social justice. I aim to question the dominant role of high-stakes assessment in education. I want to understand why schools have not embraced the...

  3. CHAPTER TWO Expanding the possible: people and technologies
    (pp. 15-38)

    I first met a computer when I began to learn computer programming as an undergraduate in 1967, and then worked as a programmer for several years after graduating from university. The change from the huge mainframe machine to my beautiful portable computer could not have been imagined in the 1960s. And I am convinced that using a computer has transformed what I can do, transformed my abilities. In the late 1980s, I bought my first portable computer and since then, all my academic work has been produced with a portable machine, working at the kitchen table, working as I travel....

  4. CHAPTER THREE Knowledge worlds: boundaries and barriers
    (pp. 39-54)

    This book is being written at a time when new forms of school governance in England are providing schools with the freedom to develop their own curriculum, and within these new structures, some contrasting approaches are emerging.¹ For example, School 21 in Newham London, which opened in September 2012, organises its curriculum around five vital thinking skills for the 21st century: disciplined mind, creating mind, respectful mind, reflective mind and connecting mind.² By contrast, the West London Free School, which opened in September 2011, focuses on traditional subjects, with all students in the first three years of secondary school studying...

  5. CHAPTER FOUR Ways of knowing: everyday and academic knowledge
    (pp. 55-72)

    When I was at school in the 1950s, there were hard boundaries between school and home. At the beginning of secondary school (aged 11), I took a geometry set that had belonged to my grandfather into a mathematics class to show the teacher, and I was severely rebuked for showing off. I can still feel the embarrassment today, and I learned the hard lesson that out-of-school life should be kept separate from in-school life. This raises the issue of the difference between everyday and school objects, between everyday and school knowledge.

    A Victorian geometry set carries with it the knowledge...

  6. CHAPTER FIVE Schools as spaces for creating knowledge
    (pp. 73-92)

    In the early 1870s, schooling became compulsory for all children up to the age of 13 in England, Wales and Scotland. With mass education came literacy, learning to read and write, and also learning the rudiments of arithmetic. Literacy brings a shift in the way of viewing and interacting with the world. Learning to read ‘is in part learning to cope with the unexpressed’.¹ With writing, a dynamic relationship is set up between written and spoken language, turning aspects of language into ‘objects of reflection, analysis and design’.² Becoming literate enables us to participate in the dominant institutions of society,...

  7. CHAPTER SIX Assessment and the curriculum in a digital age
    (pp. 93-108)

    As I write this chapter, I am aware that there is a major unresolved tension in my thinking about assessment and education. On the one hand, I believe that school league tables have shown up what I called in Chapter One a manifestly severe injustice. An injustice exemplified by the fact that in England in 2011, almost twice as many young people from middle-class homes achieved five good GCSEs (including English and mathematics) than those students from families that were eligible for free school meals (62% compared with 34%).¹ School league tables reveal the existence of schools in which the...

  8. CHAPTER SEVEN Education in the 21st century
    (pp. 109-126)

    I have argued throughout this book that education should be about developing the capabilities that enable young people both to flourish as human beings and to participate in society. I have also claimed that one aspect of this development relates to entering new knowledge worlds, worlds that provide access to ‘powerful knowledge’. However, being educated is not only about oneself, it is also about recognising others as ‘persons worthy of respect’.¹ This perspective on the purpose of education is much wider than the perspective that has been dominant since the end of the 20th century, namely, a view that education...

  9. CHAPTER EIGHT The idea of justice in education
    (pp. 127-146)

    Recently, in my role as governor of a secondary school, I was asked to sit on a panel with teachers to interview the students who had applied to continue studying in the sixth form. As a member of the panel, I asked each student what they would like to be doing in five years’ time. One girl said that she wanted to become a palaeontologist; a boy said that he wanted to become a professional darts player. Others said that they wanted to become a journalist, a lawyer, a car mechanic, a physical education (PE) teacher and a professional footballer....