• Development of an observation tool designed to increase cultural relationships and responsive pedagogy to raise the achievement of Māori students in secondary classrooms in Aotearoa New Zealand

      Berryman, Mere; Wearmouth, Janice (July Press, 2018-07-24)
      The paper discusses the development and conventions for use of a classroom observation tool designed to support secondary school teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand to develop respectful learning relationships and culturally responsive pedagogy in their classrooms. This tool was created within a programme of teacher professional development to support the improvement of indigenous Māori students’ achievement and engagement in learning. The Ministry of Education recognised the need for an extensive change in practices across the entire education sector that required a shift in thinking and behaviour. The observation tool was therefore designed to support formative assessment, focused on change, through deliberate and democratic professionalism. Initial data, whilst not conclusive, suggest this tool has the potential to support more effective cultural relationships and responsive pedagogy in classrooms thus improving learning and engagement among Māori students through increased self-efficacy, pride and a sense of themselves as culturally located.
    • Knowledge, the curriculum, and democratic education: the curious case of school English

      Belas, Oliver (SAGE Publications, 2019-05-17)
      Debate over subject curricula is apt to descend into internecine squabbles over which (whose?) curriculum is best. Especially so with school English, because its domain(s) of knowledge have commonly been misunderstood, or, perhaps, misrepresented in the government’s programmes of study. After brief consideration of democratic education (problems of its form and meaning), I turn to issues of knowledge and disciplinarity, outlining two conceptions of knowledge – the one constitutive and phenomenological, the other stipulative and social-realist. Drawing on Michael Young and Johan Muller, I argue that, by social-realist standards of objectivity, school English in England -- as currently framed in national curriculum documents -- falls short of the standards of ‘powerful knowledge’ and of a democratic education conceived as social justice. Having considered knowledge and disciplinarity in broad terms, I consider the curricular case of school English, for it seems to me that the curious position of English in our national curriculum has resulted in a model that is either weakly, perhaps even un-, rooted in the network of academic disciplines that make up English studies.
    • The perfectionist call of intelligibility : secondary English, creative writing, and moral education

      Belas, Oliver (The Canadian Philosophy of Education Society, 2016-11-29)
      This article puts forward moral-philosophical arguments for re-building and re-thinking secondary-level (high-school equivalent) English studies around creative writing practices. I take it that when educators and policy makers talk about such entities as the “well-rounded learner,” what we have, or should have, in mind is moral agents whose capacities for moral dialogue, judgement, and discourse are increased as a result of their formal educational experiences. In its current form, secondary English is built mainly, though not exclusively, around reading assessment; around, that is, demonstration of students’ “comprehension” of texts. There is little or no sense that the tradition and practice of literary criticism upon which this type of assessment is based is a writerly tradition. By making writing practices central to what it is to do English in the secondary classroom, I argue that we stand a better chance at helping students develop their capacities for self-expression, for articulating their developing webs of belief and for scrutinizing those webs of belief. I thus wish to think about English and Creative Writing Studies in light of Cavell’s moral perfectionism, and to conceive of it as an arts-practical subject and a mode by which one might, in Baldacchino’s sense, undergo a process of “unlearning.” My arguments are tailored to the English educational context. 
    • Subject English as citizenship education

      Belas, Oliver; Hopkins, Neil; University of Bedfordshire (Wiley, 2019-01-04)
      This article is equal parts educational history and political philosophy. We aim to remind readers that subject English (SE) and indeed state education emerge from the contradictory impulses of classical liberalism, and that, more than simply resembling citizenship education, SE emerges in the first instance as a form of highly normativising citizenship education. We further argue that, following England's recent educational reforms initiated by former Education Secretary Michael Gove, SE continues to be framed in moral terms consistent with citizenship education—again, of a highly normativising sort. England's current educational policy generally, and specifically the framing of SE, employs the language of liberal possibility, while ultimately espousing an invidious exclusionary and assimilationist politics. The framing of SE, moreover, is one that misrepresents the supposedly ‘rich and varied literary heritage’ it is supposed to exemplify and promote. The current political landscape in which the study of literature takes place is one where a crisis of liberalism is manifest (in terms of populism, radicalisation or apathy). However, we do not believe the answer is to retreat into a sealed, hermetic canon that excludes the reality that England and English literature are fundamentally multicultural and polyethnic. SE will be the poorer for not fully acknowledging and embodying this, for not enabling students to imaginatively and critically engage with characters and experiences that reflect both the present and long‐standing diversity of English society, as well as its present and long‐standing inequalities.