Public Notices

Review Essay of Michael Fielding and Peter Moss: Radical Education and the Common School Routledge, 2011

Review Essay of Michael Fielding and Peter Moss: Radical Education and the Common School Routledge, 2011
of 12
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Related Documents
   1 23 Studies in Philosophy and Education An International Journal ISSN 0039-3746Volume 31Number 5 Stud Philos Educ (2012) 31:491-500DOI 10.1007/s11217-012-9291-x Review of Michael Fielding and Peter Moss: Radical Education and the CommonSchool Eduardo M. Duarte   1 23 Your article is protected by copyright andall rights are held exclusively by SpringerScience+Business Media B.V.. This e-offprintis for personal use only and shall not be self-archived in electronic repositories. If youwish to self-archive your work, please use theaccepted author’s version for posting to yourown website or your institution’s repository.You may further deposit the accepted author’sversion on a funder’s repository at a funder’srequest, provided it is not made publiclyavailable until 12 months after publication.  Review of Michael Fielding and Peter Moss:  Radical Education and the Common School  Routledge, 2011 Eduardo M. Duarte Published online: 15 March 2012 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012 Today, in education, from top to bottom, pre-school through university, public and private,small and large, teachers find themselves confronted by a seemingly unquestionable newform of top down managerialism, and neoliberal corporate style of decision making. Whileschools have always been, more or less, venues defined by asymmetric power relations, thecurrent situation appears to be a unique departure from that tradition. The tradition of unequal power in education, which is rooted in the principal subject positions of teacherand student, was always marked by a number of basic features that were either a precursorto or carry-over from practices that defined what would later be called democratic practice.The most important of these features is that of ‘publicity,’ where the relation of powerunfolded in between and amongst a gathering where it could be observed, monitored, and judged. Formalized in jurisprudential terms as ‘checks and balances,’ this feature of publicity insured that the acknowledged and necessary power differentials (e.g., betweenteachers and students) were available to any and all who were present in the shareddomain. Education, in this sense, was characterized as happening in the res publica , in theshared space.The notable and notorious example of the inherently public feature of education is thecase of Socrates, whose indictment and subsequent condemnation was based on the per-ception and judgment by other citizens of his actions with respect to the younger gener-ation of Athenian citizens. Indeed, had he undertaken his practice outside of the publicdomain he would not in fact have been engaged in education. What defines the currentsituation as a departure, if not a total break, from this tradition of publicity is the arrival of privatization as the defining feature of education. While this shift has been a slow andsteady process since the epoch of Reagan and Thatcher, when the dismantling of thewelfare state was a matter of routine policy making, there is reason to believe that themajority of citizens in advanced capitalist and ostensibly democratic nations now considerthe twin pillars of the private sphere, the marketplace and family, to be the domains withthe most legitimacy in matters of education. From this follows new implications for E. M. Duarte ( & )School of Education, Health and Human Services, Hagedorn Hall, Hofstra University,Hempstead, NY 11549-1000, USAe-mail:  123 Stud Philos Educ (2012) 31:491–500DOI 10.1007/s11217-012-9291-x  education’s democratic foundation, which includes new opportunities for push back. Therecently published book by Michael Fielding and Peter Moss is an example of the kindcritical response in educational theory that has become possible and necessary in this epochthat the authors, borrowing from Roberto Unger’s riff on Thatcher, name as the ‘dicta-torship of no alternatives.’ What’s Radical About Democratic Radical Education? As announced in the title of their volume, the twin sides of Fielding and Moss’s project of democratic education are the ‘radical’ and the ‘common.’ Placed alongside one another,these two themes appear to be at odds with one another, at least from a semantic point of view. What is ‘radical’ denotes what is extraordinary, and thus what is ‘uncommon.’Bringing these two apparently opposite concepts together is of course ‘democracy.’Grammatically, however, these two principal themes function in very different ways, andthis difference is important if we are going to understand Fielding and Moss’s project.‘Radical’ has all the verbal qualities we would expect from a project that is intended toinspire a theoretic shift, a dramatic movement towards philosophies of education focusedon freedom, which is the sine qua non of democracy. ‘Radical’ refers to the action or  praxis of democratic education. On the other hand, the ‘common’ refers to the venue wherethis action unfolds. It is the ‘public realm,’ or what Arendt (1977) calls the theater of freedom. The common school is thus the site, place or space of radical education. Where‘radical’ speaks to the unconventional, perhaps, or what distinguishes each and every oneof us, our singularity, and thus our freedom, ‘common’ refers to that other foundingprincipal of democracy, viz., equality, which doesn’t stand for the ‘same,’ so much as itrefers to what we all share or hold in common. As Arendt reminds us, this is why there isan important link between the res publica and the sensus communis .Drawing on Kant (1987), Arendt emphasizes that common sense is not the proverbialtruisms of everyday life, but, rather, a modality of shared understanding, or as Kant puts it‘‘we must [here] take sensus communis to mean the idea of a sense shared  [by all of us],i.e., a power to judge that in reflecting takes account (a priori), in our thought, of everyoneelse’s way of presenting [something] … we compare our judgment not so much with theactual as rather with the merely possible judgments of others, and [thus] put ourselves inthe position of everyone else … .’’ (p. 160) The assumption that everyone shares thecapacity to judge leads to the realization that a world appears in common between us, apublic or res publica , which is both the ‘commons,’ as a place where we canall gathertogether, and the ‘common’ as the affairs or concerns that we all share in. 1 In turn, ademocratic common school emerges as the space where citizens, young and old, are able tosee themselves, together, outside of what Tony Judt calls the ‘cult of privatization.’ 2 Spatially, the common school is a public place held and shared equally by all. Ideologi-cally, the common school represents a counter-hegemonic symbol of a not-for-profiteducation, a place of learning that refuses, as Fielding and Moss assert, to be ‘‘a businessselling a commodity to consumers in a competitive market.’’ 3 1 Claiming and thus occupying this public space has become one of the central concerns of a new wave of democratic demonstration. 2 Fielding and Moss citing of Judt, p. 89. 3 Fielding and Moss, p. 89. Henceforth all direct quotations of the book will be parenthetical.492 E. M. Duarte  123  If we follow Arendt and Kant we are led to wonder what we are judging when weoccupy the res publica . What is of common concern to us all, a genuine affair of the public,the demos ? What appears as problem of, by and for the people? At this historical moment,in the epoch of privatization and the dictatorship of no alternatives, the fundamental sharedproblem is the ongoing crisis of democracy itself. And this is precisely why Fielding andMoss’s project of radical democratic education is so timely and important: it recognizesthat the disruption of present state of affairs can only happen by outflanking the juggernautof privatization through the education of a future generation of democratic citizens who arenot held under the hypnotic ebb and flow of the consumer market. Indeed, while educatingour children (‘our future’) is the most common of our jointly shared concerns, it remainsuncommon, and, for most parents and teachers alike, outlandish to claim that the way to dothis is, first and foremost, to desensitize them from consumerism, and, second, enliventhem towards a desire to become actively engaged citizens. What’s even more outrageous,and uncommon, is the claim that the way to achieve this is through a radical form of education!The uncommon proposition brings me to one of my primary concerns, namely, once wehave understood the topography of democratic education, what of the praxis : what are wedoing when we are practicing radical democratic education? For Fielding and Moss, the‘radicality,’ or uncommonness of democratic education appears to reside in its counter-cultural character, in the fact that it represents a form of teaching and learning that is totallyunconventional in the epoch of privatization. And what makes it so? Below, I will return tothis question from a more critical point of view, and thereby argue that what Fielding andMoss call for and what they enact are not entirely in synch. Here, however, I’d like to offera sympathetic summary of their project.Following the tradition of democracy and education established by Dewey, the projectproposed by Fielding and Moss is grounded in norms that are entirely antithetical to thosegoverning global capitalism’s ‘free’ marketplace. Theirs is a critical theory that is ‘overtlyutopian,’ and aims to bring about an ontological shift to ‘‘help bring about a quite differentway of being in the world … and enact a future that rests on very different assumptions andvalues to those which define the basis and boundary of the current system.’’ (40) Theregister that Fielding and Moss are working in is Dewey’s social democracy. Their projectis based on a thick understanding of democracy, where it takes on a mode of living, a wayof being and acting, or in Dewey’s words, which they cite, democracy is understood as ‘‘amode of associated living embedded in the culture and social relationships of everydaylife … .’’ (42) To bring this about, they propose following Dewey’s pedagogic creed, wherehe states in no uncertain terms that education must be guided by the idea of ‘‘the school asa form of community life,’’ and ‘‘education, therefore, is a process of living and not apreparation for future living.’’ From my reading of it, Fielding and Moss’s projectexpresses the same kind of urgency that resonates in Dewey’s creed, where democracy is alived experience, fulfilled in the present. Not to be postponed for later, education and theschool where it takes place must be the lived experience of democracy as a way of being inthe world, a shared community where ‘‘democratic fellowship … is both a condition and anaspiration.’’ (43)Fielding and Moss ground this communitarian and social democracy in an intersubjec-tivitycultivatedthroughmoraleducation.Whiletheydon’tarticulateDewey’sanachronisticterms,onecouldenvisionFieldingandMossdrawingfromthesamesourceof   MyPedagogicCreed, ‘‘that the best and deepest moral training is precisely that which one gets throughhaving to enter into proper relations with others in a unity of work and thought.’’ ‘Properrelations’ are, naturally, those that arise from community life, and students experience an Radical Education and the Common School 493  123
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks