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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Welcome to the Berkeley Review of Education, a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal published online and edited by students from the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. The Berkeley Review of Education engages issues of educational diversity and equity within cognitive, developmental, sociohistorical, linguistic, and cultural contexts. The BRE encourages submissions on research and theory from senior and emerging scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers. To submit a paper, please click on "Submit article to this journal" in the side bar.

Fall/Winter 2018

Issue cover

Editors' Introduction


(Re)production of the Contemporary Elite Through Higher Education: A Review of Critical Scholarship

This article addresses how the elite class in the United States is (re)produced by and through institutions of higher education, especially the most selective institutions. Through a review of critical, interdisciplinary research on socioeconomic inequality, elitism, and higher education, this paper begins with an overview of contemporary economic inequality and a description of the “new elites” that benefit from this inequality. Using neoliberal ideology and meritocracy as frameworks, I then discuss how recent and current trends in higher education have allowed colleges and universities, particularly those considered most prestigious, to intensify inequality and contribute to class reproduction. Specifically, as the role of income supersedes that of inheritance in fueling inequality, outsized wealth can be much more easily claimed as fair and deserved and simply a natural byproduct of a system—supported by prestigious institutions of higher education—that rewards individual drive, intelligence, and virtue.


Looking Backward to Go Forward: Toward a Kliebardian Approach to Curriculum Theory

This paper analyzes the work of Herbert M. Kliebard, not only as a curricular historian, but also as a curricular theorist. We focus on his approach to studying the history of education and curriculum as a methodological framework for understanding the purpose of education. Next, we explore two important curricular events in the 1930s: The Eight-Year Study and the social studies textbooks of Harold Rugg. While the 1930s were markedly different from today, most notably in terms of the demographic and educational contexts of the United States, our analysis points to ways that educational scholars in the 21st century might mobilize more Kliebardian insights in their work. In both sections, we build from Kliebard’s discussion to explore ways in which massive poverty and economic precarity did not lead to the federal centralization of curriculum and school policy, but rather to a range of localized and radical curricular interventions and practices. We then draw from the sense of possibility at the core of Kliebard’s work to show that even in the face of seemingly commonsense responses to the growing poverty of school-aged youth, multiple opportunities for resistance remain. We conclude with future directions for curriculum theory and curriculum studies to carve out critical spaces where transgressional and transformational scholarship remain inherently possible.


The Challenges and Possibilities of Youth Participatory Action Research for Teachers and Students in Public School Classrooms

This study explores the challenges and successes that two public school teachers experienced while implementing youth participatory action research (YPAR) with their students in core academic classrooms. Most academic studies of YPAR have focused on university-based researchers implementing YPAR with youth outside school settings or in special courses inside schools such as electives. Hence, the findings of existing research may not adequately predict the experiences of teachers implementing YPAR within the constraints and requirements of core academic classrooms. Using action research and ethnographic approaches including interviews, field notes, teaching artifacts from classroom observations, and reflective conversations with teachers, I found that the two teachers successfully implemented the epistemological tenets of YPAR in many ways and achieved positive outcomes. However, they were also stymied by structural issues common to core academic classrooms, such as required curricula, standardized testing, and large class sizes.

Students Taking Social Action: Critical Literacy Practices Through School-As-Museum Learning

Inspired by critical literacy practices, sixth-grade students at Carter Elementary designed, curated, and publicly displayed a museum exhibit to expose and confront issues of social justice. Through this case study of one display within the exhibit, we analyze the ideas and stances represented in each of its artifacts and investigate how, together, the data sources create a discursive chain in regard to social action. We call on critically oriented discourse analysis (Gee, 2005; Rogers & Mosley Wetzel, 2013) to interpret the densely multimodal artifacts, considering how ideas and stances are embodied and intertextual. Our findings reveal how student-created museum learning can stimulate transformative stances toward social action and serve as powerful mediums for youth activism. The study contributes important insights to the field of literacy studies, particularly how social action can be integrated into teaching and learning processes through multimodal public exhibits.


Silencing Racialized Humor in Elementary School: Consequences of Colormuting and Whiteness for Students of Color

Racial humor among students of color presents a sociopolitical dilemma for teachers, requiring rapid calculations of if and how to respond in ways that support an inclusive and equitable classroom climate. This analysis uses two instances of racial humor in an elementary classroom to unpack a White teacher’s responses to students of color who were both creators of and audience to racial jokes. Starting from the point of affirming the teacher’s decision to intervene, findings explore the ramifications of how intervening had multiple, layered consequences for the dynamics of silencing and racialization among students of color. The purpose of this approach is to model how to sift through the complications of silencing race talk and to support conceptual and practical conversations about anti-racist pedagogical moves in the midst of fleeting, meaningful moments in classroom socialization to race.