Strand Descriptions 2022

Strand Descriptions 2022

  1. Social Justice
  2. YPAR 
  3. Knowledge Democracy
  4. Practitioner Research

1. SOCIAL JUSTICE | CHAIR: Brianne Kramer
Social justice education focuses on creating equitable learning contexts where all present confront individual and institutional oppression, power, and critically examine relationships present in schools and greater society in order to create change at all levels of education and in the communities schools situated within (Applebaum, 2009; Cohen et al, 2013; Hackman, 2005). Action research is integral in social justice education in order to help researchers and practitioners develop tools of inquiry that identify and redress injustice. Through this work, individuals learn to become change agents within their spheres of influence to act on inequities. We seek presentations that exemplify this work in schools at all levels as well as the greater community. 

YPAR is a critical pedagogical approach that positions youth in the powerful place of conducting their own research to better understand and resist oppression around them (Cammarota & Fine, 2008; Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008). YPAR can look different across contexts, but it typically includes youth engaging in critical inquiry about an injustice that requires youth to explore their own lived experience, knowledge, and expertise in the hopes of creating equitable change (Cammarota & Fine, 2008; Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Kirshner, 2010). This problematizes typical hierarchies of power in the classroom, and production of knowledge in general, and certainly pushes back on the banking model Freire (1968) critiqued. By trusting youth to investigate issues themselves, including interrogation of their own lived experiences, a YPAR approach also begins to honor youth as agentic actors, where different identities, skills, and literacies are recognized and contextualized (Mirra & Garcia, 2020), not expelled, locked in cages, or ignored.

ARNA’s YPAR ARC has two aims. First, to better understand what exactly YPAR is and its effects on youth. Second, to spotlight examples of YPAR in action. In January, our ARC kicked off the year with a YPAR showcase. Students from high schools in Denver and Aurora discussed problems they saw at their school and ways they used action research to address the issues. One YPAR team described a need for feminine products in the bathrooms at their school. After conducting surveys and interviews, they developed their own policy solution by soliciting donations and creating stations with pads, tampons, and more in the school bathrooms. Another team of young Black women explored the tensions they felt of not fitting into the white definition of beauty. The youth have surveyed students in younger grades and are in the process of establishing a mentor program where the high schoolers can mentor Black girls to cultivate their own unique beauty. As adults, these issues may not have even surfaced for us, but the youth point of view – and the knowledge they created – helped illuminate these school-based tensions. Our ARC is curious about the impact this has not only on the youth but their educators, families, community, and the field of teaching and learning in general.

For the 2022 ARNA Conference, proposals are being sought that explore themes related to the above. Please consider submitting proposals that center the youth themselves.

Knowledge democracy is a phrase that refers to long-standing conflicts over what constitutes knowledge, whose knowledge counts and how knowledge is used. The phrase has been advanced as a kind of platform for resistance to the domination of what long-time action research scholar-activists Budd Hall and Rajesh Tandon (2017) describe as a small band of knowledge systems created by white male scientists in Europe some 500 to 550 years ago.[i] In essence, a much larger “global treasury of knowledge” has been suppressed and ruthlessly marginalized through the wielding of the Western canon of knowledge as a tool of colonization. This form of colonialism is not just the physical occupying of territory in which one more powerful group imposes itself on the land and resources of another group or groups. Rather, an entire enterprise of domination comes into play in which territorial, legal, economic, military, political and psychological means are employed to create and rationalize unequal relations that reach to the depths of assuming that the ways of knowing the world held by those acting as the colonizers are intrinsically superior to those who have been colonized. Knowledge Democracy is a movement that seeks to open the global treasure chest of knowledge to counter the colonization and support the blossoming of diverse knowledges that can aid in the seeking of creative solutions to the pressing issues in our troubling times.

In ARNA, The Knowledge Democracy Initiative/ Iniciativa Democracia del Conocimiento is an ongoing project that emerged from ARNA’s organizing of an Assembly for Knowledge Democracy that took place in Cartagena, Colombia as a part of ARNA’s 2017 Conference. The Initiative works to support knowledge mobilizations based on action research, participatory action research in all its forms and practitioner research. We seek to explore democratized knowledge production and dissemination as a basis for inclusive, democratically-based and humanistic public discourse and policy-making. We also are committed to working for epistemic justice by exposing knowledge monopolies and nurturing respect for epistemological diversity, in particular as this work involves action research, participatory action research, practitioner research, and participatory inquiry in general. For the ARNA 2022 Conference, proposals are being sought which address elements of the statement above.

We use these two terms to refer to educators who include Action Research principles in their work as a way to better understand themselves, their classrooms, work sites, and their students. By emphasizing the role teachers play in generating research-based knowledge we follow Hollingsworth’s (1990) claim that “teaching is the best form of educational research” (see also Stenhouse, 1975 & 1983; Schon, 1983; Sachs, 2016). A practitioner or interpretivist research paradigm counters the positivist assumption that research findings from a controlled experiment can be applied to classrooms generally; more specifically, “that the same educational means result in the same educational ends” for everyone (Craig, 2009). Promoting teacher-research serves to 1) counter the prevailing “teacher-as-technician” view of pre-service and in-service educator development (Sachs, 2016; Campbell, 2013); and, 2) develop qualities of teacher autonomy and resilience in the face of widespread criticism of schools and disaffection with teaching. In short, we strive to develop–in ourselves and teachers–Dewey’s (1910) call “…to ingrain in the individual’s working habits methods of inquiry and reasoning appropriate to the various problems that present themselves”.

We encourage proposals addressing any aspect of teacher-research that relates to this description.