Education’s Forum on Research looks at urban environment

At the Faculty of Education’s upcoming January Forum on Research at York, faculty will speak about their current research projects and interests which focus on the new urban environment. The forum is in keeping with the recent creation of the Jean Augustine Chair in Education in the New Urban Environment, placing the University at the forefront of interdisciplinary research needed to understand educational challenges in cities and to effect change. Augustine will attend the event.

In addition, the life of Vincent D’Oyley and his contributions to a multiracial Canada will be celebrated at a community event following the forum. A 1994 York honorary doctor of letters recipient and an accomplished researcher who focused on the evaluation of multicultural education, D’Oyley had strong ties to the University and to Toronto’s black community.

The research forum will be held Tuesday, Jan. 13, from 3 to 5pm, in 280 York Lanes, Keele campus. The forum will feature the work of York education Professors Heather Lotherington, Carl James, Don Dippo and John Ippolito.

Left: Heather Lotherington

Lotherington will talk about her project “Rewriting Language and Literacy Education in the Urban Elementary School: Multiliteracies @ Joyce Public”. The idea is to draw a larger picture of learning to read and write in the urban classroom than the curricular landscape of literacy presently describes.

“We have created a learning community of teachers and university researchers at Joyce Public School in northwestern Toronto, where we are engaged in collaborative qualitative research that experiments with the use of digital technologies and genres in the classroom,” says Lotherington. The goal is to construct multimodal literacy pedagogy that entertains children’s multilingual and urban cultural perspectives.

Right: Carl James

James and Dippo will discuss “Schooling in New Urban Environments”. The urbanization of suburbia is a world-wide phenomenon. In this paper, James and Dippo will look into some of the tensions and dilemmas of everyday life in Toronto’s inner-suburban schools and ask whether more could not be done to address the social fragmentation, economic exclusion, political marginalization and personal alienation that are part of the new inner-suburban reality.

Left: Don Dippo

They begin from the assumption that poverty is an educational issue and that schools, and by implication teachers, have a responsibility to find ways to engage with communities. That includes working with parents, activists and social service providers to develop strategies and action plans that will change the conditions that limit the academic achievement and restrict the educational opportunities of children and youth living in poverty.

“Building School-Based, Community-Referenced Decision-Making Capacity for Minority Families” is the title of Ippolito’s presentation. The place of minority families in publicly funded schools is part of ongoing discussion and debate in Canada and elsewhere, says Ippolito. Typically, these discussions propose that either families align with schools or schools align with families.

Right: John Ippolito

“In this presentation, I share some of my ongoing efforts to move beyond these polarities and toward a model of school-based, community-referenced research where both the practices of schools and the perspectives of families are opened to change,” says Ippolito. “I will trace some of the preliminary work with our university/school-based research teams and map out a tentative research trajectory.”

For more information and to RSVP by Friday, Jan. 9, contact Vennese Croasdaile, research officer, Faculty of Education, at ext. 88633 or