In this essay, Richard Smith observes that being a parent, like so much else in our late‐modern world, is required to become ever more efficient and effective, and is increasingly monitored by the agencies of the state, often with good reason given the many recorded instances of child abuse and cruelty. However, Smith goes on to argue, this begins to cast being a parent as a matter of “parenting,” a technological deployment of skills and techniques, with the loss of older, (...) more spontaneous and intuitive relations between parents and children. Smith examines this phenomenon further through a discussion of how it is captured to some extent in Hannah Arendt's notion of “natality” and how it is illuminated by Charles Dickens in his classic novel, Dombey and Son. (shrink)
Antimicrobial resistance is a major and increasing problem globally. Economics has engaged with this issue increasingly over the last 20 years. Much of this concerns assessments of the cost of various forms of resistance, but it also includes economic analyses of interventions and policies designed to contain resistance. Analysis has, however, thus far largely neglected possible distributional issues associated with such interventions and analysis. The article explores three normative bases for the conduct of economic analysis: welfarism; extra-welfarism focused on health (...) gain; and extra-welfarism focused on capability assessment. It then considers issues intrinsic to antimicrobial resistance in terms of the distributional implications and how these might be handled within economic analyses from each of the normative perspectives, before considering the actual focus of empirical studies on these distributional issues. The article concludes that the different normative starting points for economic analysis will affect how distributional issues are incorporated into analysis, but suggests that all analyses could benefit from greater discussion of these issues. (shrink)
The language of self‐belief, including terms like shyness and diffidence, is complex and puzzling. The idea of self‐esteem in particular, which has been given fresh currency by recent interest in ‘personalised learning’, continues to create problems. I argue first that we need a ‘thicker’ and more subtle moral psychology of self‐belief; and, secondly, that there is a radical instability in the ideas and concepts in this area, an instability to which justice needs to be done. I suggest that aspects of (...) deconstruction are helpful here, and offer a deconstructive reading of Kipling's poem, If—, in order to illustrate the power of literature and a certain kind of philosophy to destabilise and resist closure. (shrink)
Proponents of philosophy for children generally see themselves as heirs to the ‘Socratic’ tradition. They often claim too that children's aptitude for play leads them naturally to play with abstract, philosophical ideas. However in Plato's dialogues we find in the mouth of ‘Socrates’ many warnings against philosophising with the young. Those dialogues also question whether philosophy should be playful in any straightforward way, casting the distinction between play and seriousness as unstable. It seems we cannot think of Plato as representing (...) how to engage in dialectic, nor as prescribing a method for doing so. The irreducible textuality of the dialogues defeats any attempt to read them in this way. This is not to criticise the practice of philosophy for children: only to note the ambivalence and instability of the philosophical heritage that it wants to claim. (shrink)
When we say that good parenting is an ethical and not a technical matter, what is the nature of the warrant we can give for identifying one way of parenting as good and another as bad? There is, of course, a general issue here about the giving of reasons in ethics. The issue may seem to arise with peculiar force in parenting since parenting casts our whole being into uncertainty: here, above all, it seems, we do not scrutinise our commitments (...) from a moral standpoint that is itself secure, and such moral judgements as we make must be tentative. I attempt to illustrate this from the point of view not of parenting but of owning a dog, where the uncertainty and the tentativeness are more marked still and can be deeply disconcerting. A strong case, however, can be made for saying that these are inevitable and proper features of the essentially dialogic and self-reflexive nature of ethical discourse. When we appreciate this, parenting appears less an especially problematic or marginal field of ethical inquiry than a paradigm case of it. (shrink)
The idea that educational research should be 'scientific', and ideally based on randomised control trials, is in danger of becoming hegemonic. In the face of this it seems important to ask what other kinds of educational research can be respectable in their own different terms. We might also note that the demand for research to be 'scientific' is characteristically modernist, and thus arguably local and temporary. It is then tempting to consider what non-modernist approaches might look like. The purpose of (...) this article is to sketch a case for one particular reaction against modernist thinking: romanticism. How might our understanding (apprehension, sense) of education be changed by readmitting the insights and perspectives of romanticism? And, crucially, what confidence could we have in educational research that was thus inspired and that took the 'romantic turn'? (shrink)
Schools have changed in many ways, largely for the better, since the first edition of this book appeared: the young people in them are generally treated with far more respect than was the case a quarter of a century ago.
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.
Recent radical changes to university education in England have been discussed largely in terms of the arrangements for transferring funding from the state to the student as consumer, with little discussion of what universities are for. It is important, while challenging the economic rationale for the new system, to resist talking about higher education only in the language of economics. There is a strong principled case for rejecting the extension of neoliberalism to education and university education especially. ‘The market’ claims (...) to be the language of perfect rationality: thus it narrows the range of what can be said and thought, driving out the other forms of rationality to which it is the function of education and culture to introduce successive generations. One distinctive role of the university, in our time as always, is to speak richer and more complex languages, invoking other values and goods than those which currently underpin what passes for policy. (shrink)
In doing philosophy we need to be aware of the awkwardness of thinking in terms of having a method, still more any kind of 'methodology'. Instead we might consider the different ways in which philosophy has been conceived in terms of contrasts: for example between the written and the spoken word, between exposition and dialogue, and between—in Richard Rorty's terms—systematic and edifying philosophy. This article offers no easy answer to how to proceed, suggesting rather that those who attempt philosophy need (...) to be alert to the possibilities and dangers that lie on either side. This is not just any kind of alertness, but a matter of close reading rather than skimming, of carefully attending—listening—to those with whom we engage, whether they are people or texts. (shrink)
This paper addresses what some view as a progressive and decades-long devaluing of the liberal arts in our educational institutions and society at large. It draws attention to symptoms of this trend and possible contributing factors, identifies benefits commonly attributed to the liberal arts, and then shows how insights from recent research on neuroplasticity provide good reason to believe that a traditional liberal education has positive effects on a person's brain. The paper supports the thesis that well-designed liberal arts courses (...) can literally transform students' minds and lives as a result of unique and synergistic brain processes activated and strengthened by the leaming experiences such courses provide. It finishes with recommendations to help reinvigorate and promote the value of liberal education. (shrink)
Traditional epistemology is often said to have reached an impasse, and recent interest in virtue epistemology supposedly marks a turn away from philosophers’ traditional focus on problems of knowledge and truth. Yet that focus re-emerges, especially among ‘reliabilist’ virtue epistemologists. I argue for a more ‘responsibilist’ approach and for the importance of some of the quieter and gentler epistemic virtues, by contrast with the tough-minded ones that are currently popular in education. In particular I make a case for what I (...) here call ‘unknowing’: a positive state that is not the same as ignorance. I acknowledge the mystical connotations of the term, and suggest that there is a strong interest in unknowing in writers such as Plato, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. In their style of philosophising they also address the paradox of being knowing about unknowingness itself. (shrink)
The recent wave of interest in 'teaching happiness' is beset by problems. It consists of many different emphases and approaches, many of which are inconsistent with each other. If happiness is understood as essentially a matter of 'feeling good', then it is difficult to account for the fact that we want and value all sorts of things that do not make us particularly happy. In education and in life more broadly we value a wider diversity of goods. Such criticisms are (...) standard in philosophical treatments of happiness and can be found across a range of imaginative literature—perhaps the kinds of books that would no longer be read if the proponents of 'teaching happiness' were to have their way. (shrink)
Talk of educational reform and of the importance of ‘the management of change’ in education and elsewhere is still in vogue. However it often seems concerned to persuade us that if we engage fully with change rather than resisting it we will find our lives more meaningful, thus omitting the important matter of the goal of the change in question. Change here is in any case invariably a euphemism for the impoverishment of education and the annihilation of its ideals, together (...) with the deprofessionalisation of teachers and other educators. Recent writers about educational change tend to be less concerned with an ever-changing, labile world than with how to make the transition—and make others make the transition—from one stable condition of things to another. Different ways of thinking about change, drawing on different literature, might help us see beyond the ways in which we are currently being asked to respond to educational change and reform. (shrink)