Standards governing the Cultural Foundations of Education in the study of the educational enterprise are agreed to and set by the Council for the Social Foundations (CSFE) and used by Foundations scholars with reference to work with the American Educational Studies Association (the field's learned society) and elsewhere. Work in the foundations develops interpretive, normative, and critical perspectives on education, both inside and outside of schools.
- Interpretive perspectives use concepts and theories developed within the humanities and the social sciences to assist students in examining, understanding, and explaining education in different contexts. Foundational studies promote analysis of the intent, meaning, and effects of educational institutions, including-but not limited to schools. Such studies attend particularly to the diverse contexts within which educational phenomena occur, and how interpretation can vary with different historical, philosophical, and cultural perspectives.
- Normative perspectives assist students in examining and explaining educational programs and processes in light of value orientations. Foundational studies promote understanding of normative and ethical behavior in educational development and recognition of the inevitable presence of normative influences in educational thought and practice. Foundational studies probe the nature of assumptions about education and schooling. They examine the relation of policy analysis to values and the extent to which educational policymaking reflects these values. Finally, they encourage students to develop their own value positions regarding education on the basis of critical study and their own reflections.
- Critical perspectives employ normative interpretations to assist students to develop inquiry skills, to question educational assumptions and arrangements, and to identify contradictions and inconsistencies among social and educational values, policies and practices. In particular, the critical perspectives engage students in employing democratic values to assess educational beliefs, policies, and practices in light of their origins, influences, and consequences.