Towards an ethics of integration in education


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Towards an ethics of integration in education
       U     N    C    O     R     R     E    C     T     E     D      P     R    O    O     F SPB-183593 Chapter ID 20 February 11, 2010 Time: 05:44pm Proof 2 010203040506070809101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233343536373839404142434445 Chapter 20 Towards an Ethics of Integration in Education Inna Semetsky Introduction: The Value of Experience The focus of this chapter is on philosophy of education as it pertains to valueseducation and the development of character. It uses both classical sources and con-temporary poststructuralist theory to develop the argument for the creation of a newethics of integration based on the awareness that significant events in human cul-ture should become unorthodox subject matter to be critically examined and tolearn from. Both historically and habitually, we understand learning as a concep-tual activity confined to a generic classroom and taking place in the presence of acertain instruction.In 1916, John Dewey, who still remains a source of inspiration for educationaltheorists, was the first to expand the boundaries of the concept of learning. Re-conceptualizing learning meansopening thedoorsofagenericclassroomandlettingin real-life human experiences from which we can, and should, learn. According toDewey, learning from experience means making “a backward and forward connec-tion between what we do to things and what we enjoy and suffer from things inconsequence. Under such conditions, doing becomes a trying; an experiment withthe world to find out what it is like; the undergoing becomes instruction – discoveryof the connection of things” (Dewey,1916/1924,p. 164).The value of an experience, or its meaning, consists, for Dewey, in perceiving allthe relationships, both possible and actual, to which a concrete event may lead up.Experientialeventscanembodysignificantmeanings.Areal-lifeeventcanbeunder-stood in terms of a cultural extra-linguistic “text”, which is subject to interpretationand meaning-making. This approach should help us in re-conceptualizing the aimsof education to suit our present age. We can ask an age-old question, what is the aimof education? Or, rather, what are the aims of education? This long-time controver-sial question renders multiple solutions. Among philosophers, we can recall JohnDewey who asserted that the aim of education is always more education; Maxine I. Semetsky ( B )The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australiae-mail: Lovat et al. (eds.), International Research Handbook on Values Education and Student Wellbeing , DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-8675-4_20, C  Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010       U     N    C    O     R     R     E    C     T     E     D      P     R    O    O     F SPB-183593 Chapter ID 20 February 11, 2010 Time: 05:44pm Proof 2 464748495051525354555657585960616263646566676869707172737475767778798081828384858687888990 I. Semetsky Green who focused on the education for freedom; Kieran Egan who questionedboth the process and product of “open” education; or Alfred North Whitehead whoexplicitly stated the aim of education as the careful guardianship against useless andharmful, what he called “inert”, ideas.John Dewey defined education as a continual process of reconstruction of experi-ence, that is, a real-life problem-solving activity based on the active, creative humanmind interacting with an open world. In this sense, the goal of education coincideswith the very educative process as a developing practice. Importantly, for Dewey,if the aim of education is to be democracy, then we should educate for democracyas much as we would democratize for education. The development and sustenanceof the collective spirit of a democratic group is what education should aim for, withfar-reaching implications for schools to become a mode of social life, the latter inturn to provide the necessary background for children’s attainments and social well-being. In a continuation and further development of a Deweyan creed in education,thepresenttwenty-firstcentury demands anew semi-formalapproach toeducationalprocess that I call educating in/by events ; new model of pedagogy that I call ped-agogy of hope , and new ethics to inform moral, or values, education that I call anethics of integration .Nel Noddings’ (2006) recent work on the topic of critical lessons is instrumentalfor establishing a new paradigm for educating in/by events akin to learning fromreal-life experiences and will be complemented in this essay by the elements of aninnovative philosophy of education. This philosophy is grounded in the framework of poststructuralist cultural theory exemplified in the figures of two French philoso-phers Gilles Deleuze (cf. Semetsky,2006,2008) and Julia Kristeva (cf. Semetsky, 2001, 2005,2007;Stone,2004). Significant events in human culture of such scope as September 11 can become an unorthodox means for developing the pedagogy of hope and the ethics of integration in a timely manner as paramount for sustainingthe global society and the culture of education. A continuing debate regarding themethods of ethics appears unending: “since Socrates [philosophers] have sought . . . criteria for distinguishing between right and wrong and between good and evil”(Baron, Pettit, & Slote,1997,p. 1). What is common to all approaches, how-ever, is that they are framed by the reasoning of an independent moral agent thatpresents ethical categories in the form of “either-or” dualistic opposites. Under theassumption that classical ethical theories, either Kantian or consequentialist, or evenvirtue ethics with its emphasis on the individual character education, became quiteinadequate for our new age of globalization, this essay lays down the first stoneupon which to further build the philosophical foundations for the new ethics sothat present and future generations of educators will become exposed to the fun-damentals of this ethics and will be able to incorporate them in their pedagogicalpractices.More often than not – and as if Dewey’s heritage is pretty much non-existent –education proceeds in its reductive mode focusing on the same technical measurableobjectives, even if under several different guises depending on times and political       U     N    C    O     R     R     E    C     T     E     D      P     R    O    O     F SPB-183593 Chapter ID 20 February 11, 2010 Time: 05:44pm Proof 2 919293949596979899100101102103104105106107108109110111112113114115116117118119120121122123124125126127128129130131132133134135 20 Towards an Ethics of Integration in Education contexts. Even as Dewey was adamant that “there is . . . no succession of stud-ies in the . . . school curriculum. . . . [and] [t]he progress is not in the successionof studies, but in the development of new attitudes towards, and new interests in,experience” (Dewey,1887/2000, p. 97), the academic progress (and this is the onlyprogress to be considered in formal educational settings) is still being measured bythe successions in studies. As Noddings (2006) notices, the neglect of topics thatwould have called forth critical and reflective thinking pervades the present systemof education. Teachers and students alike are not given an opportunity to reflect ontheir own thought processes and work habits. For Noddings, critical thinking refersnot only to the assessment of formal logical arguments but also to the proper useof reason on matters of moral/social importance including personal decision mak-ing, professional conduct, and the range of beliefs. And because decision-making isembedded in experience, real events become topics central to everyday life, includ-ing education, the latter in turn embodying matters of civic importance, that is,improving communities and social conditions by means of critical evaluation and(self)-reflection.The reflective way of thinking and knowing was precisely the mode that inantiquity “defined” true pedagogy as opposed to sophistry. The evaluation andre-valuation of experience enables putting into practice Socratic motto as the “Knowthyself” principle (of course, we might remind ourselves that it was precisely thequest for meaning and re-valuation of experience, namely an examined versus unex-amined life, that in a long run cost Socrates his life). Noddings(2006) is adamantabout the importance of self-knowledge as the very core of education: “ . . . when weclaim to educate, we must take Socrates seriously. Unexamined lives may well bevaluable and worth living, but an education that does not invite such examinationmay not be worthy of the label education” (p. 10). In an almost psychoanalytic man-ner we need to ask not only what we believe but why we believe it; not only whatdo I feel, but also why? Not only, what am I doing (although we rarely ask even thisquestion!) but why? And even, what am I saying? And, again, why? But the contextin which those questions should be asked is more than the private world of the mind,it is social and cultural. Self-understanding involves a critical examination of howexternal and internal forces affect out lives thus necessarily involves understandingothers.In a social context, self-reflection means looking at the self in connection toother selves and as positioned in the social and cultural environment and for thepurpose of exploring mutual affects and interactions. The structure and dynamics of critical lessons that Noddings proposes specifically for schools cannot be taken inisolations from life with its multiplicity of experiences and socio-cultural relations;the real-life events become themselves those critical lessons from which we canand should learn. Importantly, Noddings does not differentiate between critical andreflective thinking: it is by using self-reflection in the context of personal beliefsand decision-making that every domain of human interactions becomes criticallyexamined because no meaning can be given a-priori: meanings are to be created!       U     N    C    O     R     R     E    C     T     E     D      P     R    O    O     F SPB-183593 Chapter ID 20 February 11, 2010 Time: 05:44pm Proof 2 136137138139140141142143144145146147148149150151152153154155156157158159160161162163164165166167168169170171172173174175176177178179180 I. Semetsky Moral Interdependence and the Pedagogy of the Concept At this point I would like to introduce the idea of the pedagogy of the conceptthat belongs to French poststructuralist philosopher Gilles Deleuze whose concep-tualizations strongly resonate with contemporary discourse in educational theory(Peters,2002,2004;Semetsky,2006,2008). Deleuze’s collaboration on a number of works with social psychologist and practicing therapist Felix Guattari connectedphilosophy with socio-cultural practices. Deleuze and Guattari referred to theirphilosophical method in terms of geo-philosophy as beginning with the Greeks.In his move against the Cartesian method of the a priori, clear and distinct ideas,Deleuze speaks of  paideia stating that for the Greeks thought is not based on a pre-meditated decision to think: thought srcinates in the real experience “by virtue of the forces that are exercised on it in order to constrain it to think” (Deleuze,1983,p. 108). For Deleuze, philosophy cannot be limited to contemplation, reflection, orcommunication as aiming solely to consensus. It is uniquely a creative practice of inventing new concepts allowing us to evaluate experience, and the pedagogy of the concept “would have to analyse the conditions of creation as factors of alwayssingular moments” (Deleuze & Guattari,1994, p. 12) embedded in the experien-tial events. Deleuze’s pedagogy of the concept represents an important example of “expanding educational vocabularies” (Noddings,1993,p. 5) in the concrete contextof often conflicting experiences constituting contemporary culture.Deleuzian “critical and clinical” (Deleuze,1997) philosophy presents values asfuture-oriented versus pre-given, that is, plural values that are as yet to (be)comewhenwere-valuateexperienceinpractice.Deleuze’semphasisontheclinicalaspectsharply contrasts an ethical dimension with that of moral values. If moral val-ues are pre-given and ratified by common sense, the Deleuzian ethical dimensionpushes in the opposite direction. The ethical, for Deleuze, asks the question of whowe might be. And it does so on the basis of recognizing (as Spinoza did beforeDeleuze) that we have no real idea of who we might become or, as Deleuze andSpinoza put the matter, we do not yet know what a body can do . Philosophy there-fore, rather than focusing on the classical theoretical question of being, is devotedto the practice of becoming and, specifically, becoming-other. Becoming-other isestablished via “diversity, multiplicity [and] the destruction of identity” (Deleuze,1995,p. 44); it presupposes breaking out of our old outlived habits and attitudesso as to creatively “bring into being that which does not yet exist” (Deleuze,1994,p. 147).Noddings remarks that the contradictory and paradoxical attitudes we often taketowards others constitute one of the great mysteries of human life. Borrowingthe term confirmation from Martin Buber, she suggests it as an integral partof the relational ethics in education based on care. The idea of confirmationappears to be close to the very meaning of Deleuzian becoming-other, as if establishing in practice the famous Buber’s I–Thou relationship. The idea of becoming-other, as well of confirmation, emerges from our awareness of moralinterdependence, that is, self-becoming-other by means of entering into another per-son’s frame of reference and taking upon oneself the other perspective. Importantly,       U     N    C    O     R     R     E    C     T     E     D      P     R    O    O     F SPB-183593 Chapter ID 20 February 11, 2010 Time: 05:44pm Proof 2 181182183184185186187188189190191192193194195196197198199200201202203204205206207208209210211212213214215216217218219220221222223224225 20 Towards an Ethics of Integration in Education the idea of moral interdependence expands from the individual lives to the mutualinteractions of various religious, ethnic, and national groups. In the context of edu-cation, to become capable, explicitly or implicitly, of becoming-other, means toconfirm the potential best in both oneself and another person.Thus, becoming-other has a deeply engrained ethical (or therapeutic, almost clin-ical, element) and confirmation should constitute an important component of moral,or values, education. In a range of works, Deleuze and Guattari have establisheda new critical and creative language for analysing thinking as flows or movementsacross space. For Deleuze, all “becomings belong to geography, they are orienta-tions, directions, entries and exits” (Deleuze,1987, p. 2). The constructive processof production of new concepts, meanings and values embodies affects immanent tothis very process and (in)forming the flows of thoughts and effects. Deleuze’s phi-losophy is a sort of constructivism as a creation of concepts. The creative educationwill have paid attention to places and spaces, to retrospective as well as untimelymemories, to actual and potential actions, and to dynamic forces that are capa-ble of affecting and effecting changes thus contesting the very identity of subjectsparticipating in the process.Experience is always already public: it is, for Deleuze, a-subjective and pre-personal because it is the meaningfulness of experiences comprising significantreal-life events that is the very precondition for the subject-formation. It is themicropolitical dimension of the whole of culture as a contextual, experiential andcircumstantial site that precedes the production of subjectivity. Human “self” there-fore does not presuppose identity but is produced within a dynamic process of individuation which is “populated” (Deleuze,1987, p. 9) by socio-cultural relations.As Deleuze(2000) says, we are made up of relations and experience makes senseto us only if we understand in practice the relations between several conflictingschemes of the real experience. In fact, novel concepts are to be invented or cre-ated in order to make sense out of singular experiences and, ultimately, to affirmthis sense. Similar to Dewey who was saying that an individual experience is never“some person’s; it [is] nature’s, localized in a body as that body happened to existby nature” (Dewey,1925/1958,p. 231), Deleuze too is firm on the question of theimpersonality of event, that is, on its greater collective, socio-cultural or naturalnotwithstanding, dimension. Event is a multiplicity and as such is profoundly socialand collective therefore “irreducible to individual states of affairs, particular images,[or] personal beliefs” (Deleuze,1990, p. 19). One – in whose body an event is tem-porarily and historically localized – is to be worthy of this event. For this purpose,one has to attain an ethical responsibility or, as Deleuze says, “this will that theevent creates in us” functioning as a quasi-cause of “what is produced within us”(p. 148). It is an event that produces subjective will, the meaning of this Deleuzianstatement leaning towards Dewey’s addressing the central factor in responsibilityas being “the possibility of a . . . modification of character and the selection of thecourse of action which would make this possibility a reality” (Dewey,1932/1998,p. 351). A specific event “in the world forces us to think. This something is an objectnot of recognition but a fundamental ‘encounter’ . . . It may be grasped in a rangeof affective tones: wonder, love, hatred, suffering” (Deleuze,1994,p. 139) leading
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