Journal of Educational Controversy


Friday, March 20, 2015

New Issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy on "Challenging the Deficit Model and the Pathologizing of Children" now Online

We are pleased to announce the publication of  the Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2015 issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy.  The theme for this issue is: “Challenging the Deficit Model and the Pathologizing of Children: Envisioning Alternative Models.”

Here is the controversy posed for this issue:
Martin Seligman, founder of the field of positive psychology, has said that, “Modern psychology has been co-opted by the disease model. We've become too preoccupied with repairing damage when our focus should be on building strength and resilience, especially in children.” Is this also true of modern education? Political and pedagogical responses, from the “War on Poverty” through “No Child Left Behind” to address the educational gaps in academic achievement of historically marginalized and neglected groups (the poor, minorities and children with disabilities), were often deeply rooted in a language of cultural deprivation and special needs. Has this deficit model begun to surreptitiously creep into our educational discourse for all children? Have we become too focused on needs and deficiencies and forgotten that children also have capacities and strengths? Does the current emphasis on accountability and standardized testing contribute to the pathologizing of children? We invite authors to respond critically to this argument, envision alternative models, examine historical causes and precedents, analyze political and social ramifications, and share real life stories on the influence these ways of thinking have on the classroom and on the learning as experienced by students.
With Jeb Bush apparently ready to run for the presidency in 2016, our readers might find our look behind the reform movements in Florida intriguing and enlightening.  See the Passero and Jones article.

Here is a complete table of contents for our new issue:
To Patricia F. Carini: A Dedication
 Susan Donnelly, Guest Editor
Resisting the “Single Story”
Ellen Schwartz  
Two examples of the Prospect Descriptive Process:
•Universal Power to Create (A Slide Show), Susan Donnelly
•Children’s Imaginative Communities - Microcosms of Democracy, Susan Donnelly

Link to the Prospect Archive of Children’s Work housed at the University of Vermont, Center for Digital Initiatives


Surpassing Sisyphus: The Tenacious and Promising Struggle to Push and Support a Strengths-Based Ideology and Practice in Education
 Sara Truebridge

How We are Complicit: Challenging the School Discourse of Adolescent Reading
 Andrea Davis,  Teachers College, Columbia University

 Against Rubbish Collecting: Education and Restively Ambivalent Youth
 Tracy Psycher, University of Minnesota
Breaking the Mold: Thinking Beyond Deficits
Elyse Hambacher and Winston C. Thompson,  University of New Hampshire
Urban Teachers Engaging in Critical Talk: Navigating Deficit Discourse and Neoliberal Logics
Heidi K. Pitzer,  St. Lawrence University

 Bottom Line Choices: Effects of Market Ideology in Florida’s Voluntary Preschool Policies
 Angela C. Passero and Roderick J. Jones, University of South Florida
 Precarity and Pedagogical Responsibility
Ann Chinnery,  Simon Fraser University
Building on the Strengths of Families and Communities
The 17th Annual Educational Law and Social Justice Forum
Western Washington University
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Preview of the Forum’s Upcoming Discussion

“Everyone Should Feel so Connected and Safe”: Using Parent Action Teams to Reach all Families”
--by Members of the Parent Action Team: John Korsmo, Miguel Camerena, Andrea Clancy, Ann Eco, Anne Jones, Bill Nutting, Basilia Quiroz, Azucena Ramirez, Veronica Villa-Mondragon, Stacy Youngquist


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Just finished reading "Surpassing Sisyphus: The Tenacious and Promising Struggle to Push and Support a Strength-Based Ideology and Practice in Education" by Sara Truebridge.

I can only imagine that Sisyphus would be happy if he was in on all the deceit and trickery around the use of language and the deliberate twisting of the meaning of words. For now I'll give the benefit of doubt to well-meaning reformers who are just so very sure of themselves about the promise of "grit", "rigor", and the curative properties of standardized tests, all without ever taking stock of the very unique qualities and strengths that students, families, and communities have to offer. So many in decision, and educatuion policy, making positions say they are "evidence-based", but very few seem to act on that evidence. So I thank the author for resisting the urge to promote Resistance as yet one more magic bullet, catch phrase of the year, that we need to "give" to those who have less advantages. Somehow I don't believe that Ms. Truebridge would ever have gone in his sensationalist direction. As a parent I have experienced the very bastardization of ideas by a misguided school administrator. Accusing people of having a fixed-mindset was the answer to anyone who brought up or pointed out a problem. And the idea of "fixing" those children who are lacking something is so very pervasive in education at large, and also in our locality. It is the authors focus on the process of resilience and it's relationship to a Strength-based perspective that I found so compelling and relevant to what is needed now, what has always been a need of students of any age. Caring relationships, high expectations, and opportunities to participate and contribute are indeed essential to fostering a healthy school environment.

When I provided inpatient nursing care to patients over the past two decades, I often encountered other medical practitioners who were trained in the "illness model" which has many similarities to deficit-based ideology. They viewed patients as "Diabetics", as opposed to a person or patient with diabetes. It was incredibly dehumanizing, and I could never figure out why they did this. Was it laziness? Thoughtlessness? I had many a conversation about the 85 year old patient, who suffered from heart failure. Did the other team members know that this is the first time in this man's, (a dairy farmer and survivor of a whole list of now eradicated childhood diseases), life that he was in a hospital? Gosh darrn it, he's done a lot of things right!

This is the best example I can give to demonstrate the application of strength-based ideology as I have related to it. There is much to comment on and discuss from this article, but what is key to the practice of education is the validation of individual experience, background knowledge, context, and personal connections for students and their parents. I believe building upon these strengths and experiences will foster the development of resilience and discourage deficit-based thinking and it's insidious effect on our perceptions and practice.

Thank you very much for sharing your work.


Dorothy L. Petrie