Educational Theory 66 (3):323-339 (2016)

Jennifer M. Morton
University of Pennsylvania
In this essay, Jennifer Morton discusses educators as central examples of agents who engage in ideal and nonideal ways of thinking. The educator, as a representative of the political community, is tasked with two aims. The first is nurturing students with the skills and knowledge they need for the world as they will find it. In pursuing this goal, the educator is assuming certain social facts, some of them unjust, that constitute the present nonideal world. The second aim is civic — educating future citizens. Insofar as the educator is involved in pursuing this goal, his or her role is to work at making certain future social facts true, in the hope of making the future slightly more ideal. Morton argues that if we think of these two aims instrumentally, they can come into conflict. She does not suggest a resolution to this conflict, but rather develops an alternative expressive account of the civic role of the educator. Ideal thinking by educators, Morton maintains, should be thought of as constituting an expression of respect toward their fellow citizens here and now. Ultimately, she argues that this expressive component of the educator's job is crucial to the educator's role in the political community.
Keywords non-ideal theory  education  educator's role
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DOI 10.1111/edth.12170
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