Communities of Inquiry: Politics, power and group dynamics

Educational Philosophy and Theory 43 (5):436-452 (2011)
Abstract
The notion of a community of inquiry has been treated by many of its proponents as being an exemplar of democracy in action. We argue that the assumptions underlying this view present some practical and theoretical difficulties, particularly in relation to distribution of power among the members of a community of inquiry. We identify two presuppositions in relation to distribution of power that require attention in developing an educational model that is committed to deliberative democracy: (1) openness to inquiry and readiness to reason, and (2) mutual respect of students and teachers towards one another. Our contention is that these presuppositions, presented as preconditions necessary to the creation of a community of inquiry, are not without ideological commitments and dependent upon the ability of participants to share power. Using group dynamic theories and the ideas of Hannah Arendt, we argue that behaviours commonly interpreted as obstacles to dialogue or reflective inquiry could provide opportunities for growth
Keywords  C1  970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education  Community of inquiry   Deliberative democracy   Democratic education   Power   Philosophy for children
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