Transformations in Urban Education

All children deserve an equal chance to discover their ambitions, to develop their talents and to realize their dreams. However, many young people in urban areas experience clashes between school codes and peer group codes. Although introspection, self-expression and personal development are increasingly important in the Dutch school system, schools have proven to be less than successful in transferring key competences, socially accepted behaviour and attitudes to their pupils. As a consequence, many of these (former) pupils are now struggling, economically and socially, to become and/or remain full-fledged members of society. Research of our expertiselab focuses on strengthening an inspiring an inclusive school culture where pupils and students can develop and climb the school ladder. Thus supporting their motivation and social development, improving their results and making them feel more at home at their school. This, in turn, strengthens the effect of education to help pupils climbing the social ladder more successfully.

The research project is interwoven with practical interventions taking place at member-schools of the – by the ministry of OCW endorsed – ‘community of urban education’. A number of schools, together covering education levels ranging from primary education to pre-academic levels and intermediate vocational education (MBO), are going through a broad professionalization program in which all teachers are trained, team by team, in the developed educational-pedagogical model of ‘Transformative Teaching’. The action-based research focuses on observation of group dynamics in the class room, analysing the effective patterns of educational-didactical behaviour of teachers while providing them feedback directly. By doing so, participating schools benefit from the professionalisation program and allow reseachers and practitioners to observe and analyse daily practices while offering academic reflection and professional advice at the same time. In 2019, the research has resulted in the book “Switching and climbing” and the formal launch of the Community of Urban Education.

Ultimately, Transformation in Urban Education becomes an instrument in the search for answers to the societal problems of unequal opportunities in super diverse urban educational settings.