radical education theory
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I’m trying to write something about radical education or critical pedagogy at the moment. I’m particularly interested in how it can inform the development of career guidance practice which seeks to enhance social justice.
2) Offering participants an opportunity for democratic participation in and co-production of education. Radical education provides us with opportunities to experience the power and compromise that characterise democracy. It offers up the curriculum and the outcomes of learning as a site for democratic decision making.
According to Henry, education often reflects underlying philosophical ideas. For instance, systems which assume that children are bad engage in extensive practices to eradicate badness (EE 136-7). For Henry, furthermore, education does not necessarily teach primarily its conscious content. In the case of values, for instance, the results of education may not reflect the values being taught, and a school might also teach several contradictory values (EE 91-2). Also, education may have unintended consequences, such as “covert meta-responses” (i.e. responses to the system in general) which are the opposite of, or indifferent to, declared goals (EE 171), and effects on people’s self-conceptions which occur even if teachers try to avoid altering such beliefs (EE 173-4). Western education, he feels, is often contradictory. For instance, American culture emphasises teaching people how (rather than what) to think. But in five years of observation Henry found little evidence of such teaching (EE 93).
* Goodman’s idea of “scholarly” and “unscholarly” groups sounds a little elitist.
* In common with the other “deschoolers”, Goodman is a little naive about the role of business in society.
Anyon points to a range of progressive economic policies as the way to fight poverty: minimum wage legislation, a progressive tax code, anti-poverty and jobs programs, affordable housing and public transportation and more union-friendly labor laws. Yet Anyon argues that in order to win these reforms we should draw on Marx’s vision of political struggle. She draws on the social movements of the past in order to provide a vision for how education reform is won:
This analysis seems to stem from a misinterpretation of Marx’s theory of the working class, which she characterizes as “the industrial proletariat.” But Anyon goes even further conceding, “’Revolution’ itself appears an old fashion concept.” These formulations seem particularly misguided at a time when revolutions are spreading through the Middle East and North Africa with the working class playing a crucial role.
What is radical educational policy? Why is this method needed?
Traditional, rational or managerial policy development approaches are generally linear, staged and state controlled or state centered. A radical policy approach, in contrast, recognizes both the complexity and the value of having a broad and diverse group of stakeholders or policy actors acting at many different levels. The use of the metaphor of a policy web 53 helps to understand how the policy process is shaped by circulating discourses. Using this metaphor, policy is designed as an ensemble of multiple discourses that interact in a complex web of relationships that enable or constrains social relations. It is a fluid arrangement of discourses existing at a given moment in time, emerging out of the struggle between multiple discourses from multiple voices in a given context. The discourses circulate in different policy actors such as government, education officials, NGOs, CNAL, teachers, artists, parents, students and arts advocates who participate in disseminating and creating discourses. As such, while this definition recognizes the important role of the state, it highlights that the state is not the only player as multiple actors can participate in the policy process.
I would argue that a radical policy approach, which builds on the work done by the NSAE, utilizes critical democratic principles and includes the active participation of a much broader and diverse set of policy actors, has the potential to create an exciting future in educational reform and gives hope for a re-focusing of the goals of education from an economic focus to a focus on democracy and social justice. As Anyon 54 and Freire 55 have argued, the success of many social reforms in the past have stressed the importance of the involvement from the grass-roots level (community participation). The teachers who will be delivering this curriculum, are incredibly important policy actors, as are the youth their parents and other stakeholders. Their voices need to be heard through the dialogues, debates, policy development process and to continue to ask the critical questions of: Why?; For what purpose/goal?; and In whose interest? 56
Support and challenges at the local, provincial, -national and international levels
Despite limitations and barriers imposed by a neoliberal educational agenda, policy approaches and initiatives are beginning to appear locally, nationally and internationally which support and encourage critical democratic pedagogy through the arts. In 2006, UNESCO organized the First World Conference on Arts Education in Lisbon and is planning to host another in 2010. One of the significant impacts of this conference was the impetus for the creation of the World Alliance for Arts Education. Through this Alliance, the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association (IDEA), International Society for Education through Art (INSEA), and International Society for Music Education (ISME) united to define an integrated strategy that responds to what they saw as “a critical moment in human history: social fragmentation, a dominant global culture of competition, endemic urban and ecological violence, and the marginalization of key educational and cultural languages of transformation” 39 . The WAAE hope to collaborate with governments, networks, educational institutions, communities and individuals who share their vision to accelerate the implementation of arts education policies internationally. This international leadership, particularly in its challenge to UNESCO to join with them to make arts education central to a world agenda for sustainable human development and social transformation, is a significant positive step forward.
At the national level, the impetus for the development of a set of Policy Guidelines for Arts Education in Canadian Schools began in 1997 at the First National Symposium for Arts Education in Cape Breton. Over the next seven years, through a combination of annual symposia and the work of teachers, educational administrators, artists and arts organizations from across Canada, the final Guidelines were developed and presented to the Canadian Conference for the Arts in 2003. Although little work has been done in terms of moving these guidelines forward since 2003, there appears to have been a resurgence in both interest and organization in Canada since 2006, with the revival of national Arts and Learning Symposia and the creation of the Canadian Network for Arts and Learning (CNAL). Additionally, the CNAL has been working together with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Canada Council and the Canadian Conference for the Arts to bring together a wide range of stakeholders in a collaboration aimed at “raising awareness of the advantages of arts and learning, informing cultural and educational policy, improving the quality of arts education programs and fostering research and exemplary practices” 40 .