Reason and culture in cosmopolitan education

Educational Theory 59 (5):589-604 (2009)
Abstract
In this essay, Leonard Waks reviews three recent books on cosmopolitan education: Kwame Anthony Appiah's Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers; Neil Burtonwood's Cultural Diversity, Liberal Pluralism, and Schools: Isaiah Berlin and Education; and Thomas Popkewitz's Cosmopolitanism and the Age of School Reform: Science, Education and Making Society by Making the Child. Each of the three books challenges cosmopolitan universalism. Appiah argues that universal principles do not help us understand how members of distinct cultural groups can flourish in close proximity. Burtonwood adds that the expression of these principles in conflict situations can offend and humiliate illiberal groups and render them culturally reactive, inventing restrictive ideals of cultural “purity” that block cosmopolitan harmony. Popkewitz argues that the cosmopolitan premise of enlightenment for all imposes civilizing disciplines on those the dominant groups perceive as “others,” disciplines that render them abject. Taken together, the three books provide important planks in a comprehensive critique of cosmopolitan universalism as a philosophy of education
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