The theoretical foundations for Invitational Education (Purkey, 1992) include “the democratic ethos” (Dewey, 1916), the perceptual tradition (Combs, Richards, & Richards, 1988), and self-concept theory (Rogers, 1969). These foundations rest upon core principles. As an effective educational theory, Invitational Education (IE) utilizes assumptions requiring people, places, policies, programs, processes to interdependently transcend from the present organizational culture to the desired ideal. Thus, IE theory rests upon:
- The 5 basic assumptions: optimism, trust, respect, care, intentionality;
- The 5 P’s: people, places, policies, programs, processes;
- The ladder: intentionally disinviting, unintentionally disinviting, unintentionally inviting, intentionally inviting, and;
- The 4 corner press: being personally inviting with oneself, being personally inviting with others, being professionally inviting with oneself, being professionally inviting with others (Welch & Smith, 2014).
Undeniably, a humanist approach to education guides Invitational Education (IE). Richards and Combs (1993) advocated for the implementation of positive aspects of humanist approaches in education. These aspects embraced the human being’s uniqueness, the importance of self-concept, development of methodologies that encouraged group work, increased the involvement of students in decision-making, and sought to create more pleasant and inviting schools (pp. 266–67).
However, the dawn of the new millennium brought new critics to the humanistic approach in education. Educational psychologists: Duchesne and McMaugh (2016), blame humanist approaches to education for promoting a structure that led to weaker academic outcomes, unprepared teachers implementing ineffective approaches, and ineffective measures of success. Such criticism was not new to IE. As recalled by Welch & Smith (2014), in 1986, McLaren complained that Purkey and Novak (1984) failed “to situate their pedagogical concerns within a broader problematic, one that understands how classrooms can be truly humanized only when there exists greater social justice and economic equality in the larger society” (p. 91).
While Purkey and Novak (1996) believed education to be “fundamentally an imagination of hope” (p. 1), as an effective humanistic approach to education, IE must consider “engagement with the broader social and political context” (Welch & Smith, 2014, p. 9). In this endeavor, IE continues to evolve beyond simple re-branding. Now widely cited in research as Invitational Theory and Practice (Shaw, Siegel, & Schoenlein, 2013), IE’s humanistic approach still embraces its theoretical foundation while seeking to extend moral responsibility and political commitment to ensure the democratic ethos, the perceptual tradition, and self-concept theory is utilized to provide fairness in equity to promote the learning for all mission.
As cited by Butler (2005), Duetsch (1975) provided three distinctive definitions of fairness based on equality, equity, and need.
- Equality, by definition, is treating everyone the same. For example, after a certain age, everyone gets to vote.
- Equity suggests consequences: both rewards and punishment, are proportionate to product. For example, all children are taught to write but the gifted poet is celebrated.
- Need was defined by Duetsch based on provision or availability of accommodations and supports. For example, “accommodations and supports will not be provided to everyone (equality) or to only the best (equity), but to those that need them to be successful” (Butler, 2005, para 2).
Of course, practitioners of Invitational Theory and Practice (ITP) will continue to embrace the theoretical foundation of IE (Purkey & Novak, 2008). However, ITP practitioners must also fully understand the issues of fairness in equity. Thereafter, ITP practitioners could more effectively consider the social and political context in which ITP should be integrated with principles of cognitive, social, and behavioral learning theories.
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