The question of desirability: How is education a risk?

Childhood and Philosophy 13 (28):537-546 (2017)
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Abstract

Gert Biesta claims that education involves introducing young people to a pathway from what they want to what it is good for them to want, offering the conditions for children to cross from the former to the latter. This shift from a realm of individual desires to the realm of the desirable constitutes a “de-centered existence”. Since there is an undeniable normative dimension in this view, it seemed important to search for the guiding values or principles that frames it. In his ICPIC talk, G. Biesta refers to the Levinasian concept of responsibility, identifying individual desires (children’s desires) with the egological way of existence. In his 2014’s book, The beautiful risk of education, Biesta mentions the concept of educational wisdom (educators’ wisdom), through an Aristotelian standpoint. In either perspective, the author grants normative privileges to adults, claiming that, in an educational environment, adults have the responsibility to be educators and not learners. We follow from here to question Biesta’s statement of education as a risk, since if there are evaluative standards according to which educators can orient their practices, as well as students behaviors (either the responsibility in face of the Other or the ability to make good and wise judgments), how can one still talk about a risk in education? We end up our commentary by looking for deeper meanings for the concept of risk in education.

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Magda Costa Carvalho
Universidade dos Açores

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