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Special Issue: The meaning of teaching history

Guest editor

  • Prof. Dr. Antonio Canales Serrano.Catedrático de Historia de la Educación. Complutense University of Madrid

History has been a central component of school curricula. Historically, its main mission was to provide the epic tale of a community struggling for its existence since the dawn of time. It thus responded to the nationalising aim of the nineteenth century national education systems and their desire to create Frenchmen, Italians or Spaniards. To the geographical imaginary delimited by strictly political borders was added, for each child, a collective becoming that gave meaning to the current political community, one culturally unified in the subjects of language and literature. A territory, a language and a past were the pillars on which the nation was built at school.

The way of doing history that underlay this approach was strongly challenged from the mid-twentieth century onwards and was eventually displaced from the disciplinary field by social history. But before this shift had time to be transferred to the field of education, the postmodern challenge shook the foundations of the discipline itself. New voices from new collectives today make up a contesting polyphony of narratives about the past which, far removed from the unidirectional order of the national epic, is emerging as an evanescent mass of confusing profiles in continuous transformation.

This liquid past raises the question of the meaning of the teaching of history in our schools. Does history still play a role in the shaping of our societies and the way they work? Are we going to replace the old contested national narrative with an axiological archaeology that guarantees the moral pedigree of those people or groups we consider worthy of being included in the Olympus of memory? Does it still make any sense to transmit a vision of the past based on grey social processes that have led to the present? Would it not be more democratic and plural to provide the new generations with rhetorical resources to challenge and participate on equal terms in the battle for the narration of a felt past that makes sense according to their political agenda at any given moment?

This special issue aims to supply a range of positions on all these questions that go beyond purely didactic issues.

Special Issue: Compulsory education: an open debate

Guest editors

  • Enric Prats.Universitat de Barcelona.
  • Tania Alonso Sainz. Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

In 2023, the Report done by the Spanish State School Council included the need for "debating the extension of mandatory training and education up to the age of 18" to improve education.

For decades, there has been an expansion "above and below" of compulsory schooling, even up to 19. Some surrounding countries implemented these actions but often in isolation from other collateral actions.

The reasons given are both pragmatic, in the sense of reducing the impact of school dropouts, and strictly pedagogical, related to the need to fully address comprehensive schooling over an extended age range to fulfil the right to education.

This debate challenges the vast education panorama: Long-life learning, post-compulsory education, access to higher education, job insertion, vocational training, the very function of the state school apparatus, and even the very meaning of education and the role of teachers.

This Special Issue aims to collect qualitative and quantitative research works, comparative studies, theoretical essays, and systematic reviews of studies addressing compulsory education. We welcome articles for historical, comparative, or legislative perspectives and even conceptual discussions about bordering terms and constructs, including topics such as public school and the role of the State, alternative or complementary schools, the role of freedom and the right to education, homeschooling, unschooling, etc.

In summary, the Special Issue aims to answer and generate new questions based on the following inquiries:

  • What reasons are given for the progressive expansions of compulsory schooling in a historical and comparative key? What results have these expansions offered in terms of increasing educational quality and inclusion, reducing school abandonment and disaffection?
  • On what arguments are the defence and offensive against compulsory schooling based? What solid alternatives to compulsory education guarantee the right to education? What gaps do public systems present that prevent quality education from being guaranteed?
  • What pedagogical, social, cultural, and even economic and labour implications are pointed out with the expansion of compulsory education from 4 to 18-19 years?
  • What effects does the structural reform of stages of the educational system have on other areas, such as the curriculum, educational organization and management, academic and professional guidance, and the role and training of teachers and other education professionals, among others?
  • Special Issue: Repetition and school dropout. Policies for the frontiers of education systems.

Guest Editors

  • Prof. Dra. María Castro Morera (Universidad Complutense de Madrid).
  • Prof. Dra. Eva Expósito Casas (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia).

Keywords: dropout, early school leaving, grade repetition, school vulnerability, truancy, second chance programs, school failure, educational policy, educational system.

I. Introduction

At the outer and inner borders of the educational system are the most vulnerable students. These are students who have serious difficulties during their compulsory education and/or are students who have left the system without secondary certification. In Spain, early school dropout rates are a major concern as they are still well above the European Union rates, although they show a clear decrease since 2010. Suitability rates are also rising at secondary level and are among the highest among OECD countries.

The limiting effects that grade repetition and early dropout have on the present and future of students and their social repercussions accentuate/make more important the role of new educational policies to address this serious problem. From reflection and research, evidence can and should be provided to inform the design of these policies. Some studies suggest that dropout, sometimes without return, will be conditioned by complex and diverse factors, including grade repetition, gender, lack of school support, or social or economic vulnerability, among others, and that it could be preceded by some behaviors that place the subject in a situation of dropout risk, such as absenteeism, segregation or conflict in the classroom. These factors are also common to the precursors of grade repetition. It is necessary to know and understand the determinants of dropout and repetition.

In this context, it is necessary to ask ourselves about the capacity of the systems to “retain” the students who have the greatest needs and whose irregular trajectory throughout their schooling puts their future at serious risk. How does the system adapt to the characteristics and individual needs of these students? What alternatives are there? Is it possible to develop an accompanied schooling for those students with greater difficulties? Do teachers have the means and resources beyond grade repetition?

The objective of this monograph is to provide contrasted knowledge to researchers, educational policy makers and the educational community in general, in order to define a common knowledge space to design policies that contribute, on the basis of diverse evidence, to the understanding and prevention of students with school vulnerability.

II. The proposed monographic issue addresses six main topics:

A. Who are at the frontiers of the educational system? Analysis of the differential profiles (motivational, aptitudinal, academic trajectory, social and economic vulnerability...) of students who drop out or repeat.

B. What is the capacity of educational systems to retain students at risk of dropping out? Is school really a place for everyone? Is it possible to better meet the needs of each student? Are there educational, organizational and/or social alternatives to the educational policy of grade repetition? Analysis of the various educational policies, organizations and models and their impact on teaching and learning processes and outcomes.

C. Is the post-compulsory education system sufficiently diversified to accommodate all students in the face of the new competencies and learning required for the 21st century? Examination of educational pathways in the face of the new challenges facing schools and teachers.

D. Is there a possibility of return? Study of the feasibility of second chance pathways.

E. What is the situation of adults whose education is incomplete? Consequences of dropout and repetition.

F. Are there advanced indicators of the risk of repetition and early school dropout? Is it possible to construct an index of school vulnerability? Approaches to the construction and estimation of school vulnerability indexes.

III. Submission of proposals:

Contributions to this special issue will shed light on the understanding of this complex phenomenon, guiding new policies and practices in dropout prevention, be they theoretical, methodological, comparative or empirical in nature.

Authors are encouraged to submit studies that contribute to the current debate on the various strategies, policies and innovative educational practices and new perspectives that can help reduce dropout and promote second chance programs.

  • Deadline for submission of manuscripts: February 1, 2025.
  • Information for authors: [Nueva ventana]

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