Cultures of low aspirations, and more particularly young people's adaptation to them, are often presented as the major obstacle to an economic development agenda which requires more higher-level skills and a social agenda which is about enabling people from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds to go to university. The article analyses and discusses some of the different sorts of constraints on the choices which we make and which may become unconsciously internalised and so constitute our adaptive preference. It argues, however, that all choice (...) is significantly adaptive and has its roots in a self which neither in its development nor in its current agency is detached from the social context in which it has been constructed, with which it identifies and from which that identity itself derives many of its features. Finally the article discusses briefly the grounds on which intervention in the life of such a chooser might be justified and some implications for interventionist strategies which are sensitive to such a socially embedded view of the self. (shrink)
This article is centrally concerned with the sort of knowledge that can and should inform educational policy—and it treats this as an epistemological question. It distinguishes this question from the more extensively explored question of what sort of knowledge in what form policy-makers do in fact commonly take into account. The article examines the logical and rhetorical character of policy and the components of policy decisions and argues that policy demands a much wider range of information than research typically provides. (...) Either the research task or commission has to be substantially extended or the gap will be filled by information or thinking that is not derived from research. One of the gaps between research of an empirical kind and policy is the normative gap. In the final section the article points to the inescapably normative character of educational policy. Of course the values that inform policy can be investigated empirically, but this kind of enquiry cannot tell us what we should do. There is a role for research/scholarship and more rather than less intelligent and critical argumentation in addressing these normative questions as well as the empirical questions that underpin policy. (shrink)
This book evaluates the increasingly wide variety of intellectual resources for research methods and methodologies and investigates what constitutes good educational research. Written by a distinguished international group of philosophers of education Questions what sorts of research can usefully inform policy and practice, and what inferences can be drawn from different kinds of research Demonstrates the critical engagement of philosophers of education with the wider educational research community and illustrates the benefits that can accrue from such engagement.
The focus of this paper is on a variety of practices associated with the transfer of educational policy and practice from one national education system to another – practices sometimes referred to as ‘policy borrowing’. Its concern is with the ethical and political issues raised by these practices. In particular, it discusses concerns that these practices might be practically inappropriate, that they might be culturally insensitive or inappropriate, and that they might be impositional, exploitative perhaps or even oppressive. Such concerns (...) arise particularly in contexts in which the transfer is from relatively rich and powerful countries to relatively poor and less powerful countries. But policy transfer is a feature of relations between the rich and powerful too, and to some extent the issues are then turned on their head. Those engaged in the business of transfer become more clearly identified as service providers and they have to ask questions about to whom and under what conditions they might provide this service. Finally, the paper considers policy transfer as a form of pedagogy and asks whether the kind of ethical considerations which underpin any properly educational transaction might not provide a guide to behaviour by the agents of policy transfer. (shrink)
In education issues to do with insider and outsider understanding arise in debates about religious education and about certain areas of research, and in argument about education for international understanding. Here I challenge the dichotomy between insider and outsider, arguing that a more collectivist view of human identity combined with elements of 'the self which we share with our fellows' means that we always stand in part as an insider and in part as an outsider in relation to others. I (...) argue further that 'understanding' needs always to be thought of in the plural, as a matter of 'understanding s ', since members of any community, and even any one individual, have different understandings at different times. Against what may seem the strong case in favour of the superiority or exclusivity of insider understanding, I note the force of claims in a variety of theoretical traditions (expressed notably in the Marxist tradition in the notion of 'false consciousness' and in psychoanalytic attention to the unconscious) concerning the limitations of the exclusively insider perspective and in contrast the particular authority of the outsider perspective. Finally, I acknowledge the discomfort with which people respond to outsiders' claims to understand them, especially where such understanding fails to support their own self-understanding, and identify ethical considerations, which might shape sensitive negotiation between insider and outsider perspectives. (shrink)
This international collection forms a response from 22 educators to our changing political environment and to the reassessment they provoke of the principles shaping educational thought and practice. The philosophical discussion, however, remains clearly rooted in the world of educational practice and its political content.
Educationalization is a term most frequently used to indicate that government has inappropriately imposed on educational institutions responsibility for providing the solution to some social or economic problem. In this essay David Bridges illustrates, however, the way in which educational institutions collude in this process, where they see doing so as in their interests. He also points to the way idealistically educators might seek to contribute to the wider social agenda of their age. Indeed it is arguable that there is (...) a conceptual link between the idea of education and that of social improvement. These observations frame the question about educationalization as one concerning the appropriateness or otherwise of looking to educational institutions to solve social problems and how one might determine such appropriateness. To what extent, Bridges asks, can and should educational institutions play a role in addressing the wider social and economic political agenda? In this essay he attempts the beginning of an answer to both these questions. (shrink)
In this essay, David Bridges explores the notion of practice with particular application to the practice of higher education. He considers whether some of the changes in practices linked to the massification of higher education have in fact resulted in the breakdown of higher education as a practice, at least on Alasdair MacIntyre’s definition of the term. Specifically, Bridges examines whether higher education has lost its sense of the forms of human excellence around which its life is constructed. Finally, he (...) points to issues of equity raised by the huge variety of forms that higher education now takes and asks whether this variety might mean that students are winning entry to some very different qualities of experience when judged against the requirement that they should contribute to the development of human excellence. (shrink)
The central question addressed in this paper is about the ethics of engaging with educational development in countries perceived as undemocratic or as failing to respect human rights. More particularly, it examines the nature of the arguments that are brought to bear on this issue. It suggests that these are essentially consequentialist in character and hence fall prey to many of the limitations of such consequentialism, including the unpredictability of what will unfold, the indeterminacy of the consequences and the complex (...) balance sheet of benefits and loss that might be anticipated. The paper also suggests some unease about the way judgements of the acceptability or otherwise of political processes are made across international boundaries and the presumptions of a ‘democratic’ western perspective. The observation of these complexities of principle and fact take the argument into the territory of case-based ethical judgement and the world of casuistry. (shrink)