Brave new schools: Identity and power in Canadian education

From the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development

The 2008 R.W.B. Jackson Lecture ~ Brave New Schools: Identity and Power in Canadian Education

We are pleased to present Professor James (Jim) Cummins, a renowned second language education scholar in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, and Canada Research Chair, Language Learning and Literacy Development in Multilingual Contexts.

As the 2008 Jackson Lecturer, Cummins will draw on data from a 5-year research program entitled From Literacy to Multiliteracies to stimulate re-examination of the foundational principles of Canadian education in an era of increasing diversity and urgent global challenges. Influenced by international agencies such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), educational policy-makers in many countries have adopted an increasingly technocratic approach to the promotion of literacy and numeracy.  The focus has been on the identification and implementation of evidence-based “best practices.” However, the frame of reference within which these “best practices” have been generated typically consigns issues related to societal power relations and teacher-student identity negotiation to the margins of consideration.

This lecture will call for a radically different approach to educational policy-making. The constructs of teacher-student identity negotiation and societal power relations will be proposed as empirically validated influences on academic achievement and as fundamental to the development of effective educational policy and practice. Recent OECD research and policy recommendations on the education of immigrant students will be analyzed to show that the marginalization of issues related to power and identity in educational policy-making is an ideological process that is far from “evidence-based.” A very different set of policy options and pedagogical opportunities for Canadian education emerges when the empirical and theoretical frame of reference is broadened to acknowledge the centrality of the multiple forms of diversity that increasingly characterize schools both in Canada and internationally.

The lecture will be held Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at the George Ignatieff Theatre, Toronto. Reception at 6pm, opening remarks and lecture at 7pm. 

To RSVP and/or for more information, call 416.978.1125.