Shirin Vossoughi

Shirin Vossoughi is an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, where she draws on ethnographic methods to study the social, cultural, historical, and political dimensions of learning and educational equity. As the daughter of Iranian immigrants, she is personally invested in the development of educational settings for youth from migrant, immigrant, and diasporic backgrounds. Building on her work as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and the Exploratorium, Vossoughi is currently studying equity-oriented after-school programs that blend scientific inquiry, literacy, and the arts. She takes a collaborative approach to research, partnering with teachers and students to study the conditions that foster educational dignity and possibility.

Test scores. Accountability. Global economic competitiveness. Grit. These words dominate the current discourse of educational reform. They embody cultural assumptions and values about children’s needs and capacities, about what teaching and learning should look like, and about what they are for. The rigidities they impose on the everyday lives of teachers and students are often justified through the hollow appropriation of “equity” and “Civil Rights.”

But there are other words, those closer to the human experience of education and what it could be for: relationships, love, ideas, questions, social analysis, history, community, intellectual respect. Words that signal another set of values, dreams of another kind of world. Read more