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Education Is Filled With Politics

By Author: Amelia.White
Total Articles: 41

In Plato's Apology of Socrates, the point of the trial, as many people have come to believe, is not freedom of expression, or the right to speak your mind. The basic question for which Socrates is taken to court is: Who has the right to educate, or teach the young? In fact, the conflict one reads about in the Apology deals with different views of education: the traditional view of the time, which emphasized values embodied in Homeric poems, such as bravery, honour, and patriotism, and the alternative, questioning view that was proposed by Socrates. For Socrates, this was Fake Watches the most basic political question of his day, since the structure of society depended on what the young knew and what kinds of questions, or doubts, they would raise. Socrates, in a sense, can be viewed as the first critical pedagogue in history.

To think of education (and I do not hesitate to regard E LT as an educational entity) as an apolitical activity is the attitude critical pedagogy (CP) is rebelling against, since CP regards the question of values at the core of any educational practice. Whose values must be assigned priority, and why? Do the values included belong to the people Colin Sowden refers to, business people, diplomats, and international students? Or are the values those of the minorities, the misfits, the poor and marginalized? There is no doubt the people Sowden has in mind never object to education as it is now, since they are sure that their lifestyles and preferences are incorporated by their peers who are in charge of educational establishments and printing houses.

This disregard for the political, value-based aspects of education has proved costly, as a quick look back at the twentieth century shows. Educational failures (in the form of indoctrinations, indifference, prejudice) have been at the heart of such tragedies as the genocide in Rwanda, hunger in Africa, holocaust in Europe, and ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia. What happened during these events surpasses human imagination, making philosopher Theodore Adorno pose the Rolex Watches question of what education will be like after such senseless instances of human suffering. When human misery is a daily routine for many people of the world (definitely not the ones Sowden has in mind), how can education regard its mission as a simple transfer of knowledge and mastery of skills?

A non-critical, non-questioning view of education will result in what Gardner calls 'furor to teach' (1997: 3). Britzman (2000: 203) summarizes the concept as follows: By this, [Gardner] means forgetting the students or teaching in spite of them, maybe even to spite them. He also means that whereas we must believe in the knowledge we offer students, there is a centripetal tendency to freeze knowledge by undervaluing the question and forgetting the importance of doubting the very knowledge on offer. The furor to teach defends against this capacity to doubt and the interest in using knowledge as a means for world-making and self-making.

The capacity for world-making and self-making were the values Socrates and his contemporaries were conscious of, and if E LT has just recently realized the political potential of its practice, it is a belated discovery. As a member of the education family, E LTneeds to embrace the value of doubts and questions, risk posing novel ideas, and make social transformation one of its priorities, if it is to make its proper contribution to the creation of a better society for all.

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