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Buddhist Ethics and Moral Education  

Chia-Ling Wang

As a highly developed religion, Buddhism has very rich ideas related to ethics and morality. Buddhism itself is a way of education. It guides the method and action of cultivating one’s moral character. These practices can be applied in thinking about education, especially specific to education’s ethical and moral implications. In the early 21st century, Buddhist theory has multiple applications in the field such as applied psychology, counseling, and meditation. Though it is an ancient wisdom, its viewpoint can be used to solve contemporary social problems and human crises caused by the process of modernization. Mahāyāna Buddhism believes that this world is constituted by emptiness, which is the perspective on essence-absent ontology. Everything is in its becoming, which is dependent on everything else, following the law of cause and effect. When an important aspect of one’s daily behavior is to cultivate goodwill, the desirable consequences will be returned to them later. That is, one good turn deserves another. On the contrary, bad will receives ill effects back. This is the basis of the Buddhist moral concept. In this way, human beings are active agents who can decide their own conduct and the result of their life. Buddhism encourages an individual to perform practices of precepts, meditation, and wisdom all the time to rid oneself of craving, hatred, and delusion. The latter are origins of human suffering. Humans cannot reach the ultimate spiritual realm of Nirvāṇa until these three poisons are given up. As an approach to self-education, Buddhist ethical thoughts allow learners to search for their self-nature. Buddhist moral claims of compassion and equality can contribute to the thinking of modern educational issues, such as peace education, ecological education, and equality in education.

Article

Professionalism, Education, and Ethics Code  

Troy A. Martin

The professionalization of education involves a modern, capitalist move toward securing a public market for schools and developing social status for educators. As a process that has produced knowledge, rationalized relationships, and controlled markets, professionalization of education has also defined an ethical discourse. Articulated in language, inscribed in state law, and embodied in conduct, professional ethics have been codified formally in “codes of ethics” and informally in professional identity and ways of thinking. The popular discourse of professional ethics in education narrows and constrains ethical possibility in practice. Because of similar forms of codes of ethics across professions, interdisciplinary scholarship from education, social work, psychiatry, and medicine informs a critical examination of professional ethics. The codes, discourse, and standards of professional ethics are historically grounded in the framework of modern rationalism. As the field of education has developed to include a more diverse knowledge-base and new forms of empirical research, the rational order of prescriptive ethics has begun to slip. While regulatory codes of ethics continue to undergird public trust and provide legal insurance against malfeasance, educational scholars and practitioners engage a wider constellation of ethical perspectives and possibilities. Feminist care ethics, post-modern ethics, and phenomenological descriptive ethics present a few possibilities within emergent fields. As the ongoing effects of professionalization are critiqued and the possibilities of professional ethics are re-imagined, schools of education should look beyond the disciplinary enclosures of education to respond to an increasingly diffuse understanding of professional ethics.

Article

Alain Badiou and Education  

Torill Strand

The French philosopher Alain Badiou (1937–) is one of the most significant philosophers of our time, well known for his meticulous work on rethinking, renewing, and thereby strengthening philosophy as an academic discipline. In short, his philosophy seeks to reveal and make sense of the potential of radical innovations in, or transformations of, any given situation. Although he has not written extensively on education, the pedagogical theme is vital, constitutive, and ongoing throughout his work. Badiou is an outspoken critic of the analytic and postmodern schools of thought, as he strongly promotes the virtue of curiosity, and prospects of “an education by truths.” “Truths” are not to be confused with matters of knowledge or opinion. Truths are existential, ongoing, and open-ended ontological operations that do not belong to any epistemic category. An education by such truths operates through a subtraction from the state of the situation and proposes a different direction regarding the true life. According to Badiou, the task of philosophy is to think these truths as processes that emerge from and pursue gradually transformations of particular situations. Overall, the structure of Badiou’s philosophical system demonstrates an extraordinary ontological style as it concurrently stands in relation to, and breaks off from, the history of contemporary French philosophy, German Idealism, and Greek antiquity. His system, which is of vast complexity, is based on mathematical set theory, consisting of a series of determinate negations of the history of philosophy, and also created by the histories of what Badiou terms philosophy’s conditions: science, art, politics, and love.

Article

Qualitative Methodological Considerations for Studying Undocumented Students in the United States  

Aurora Chang, Júlia Mendes, and Cinthya Salazar

The study of undocumented students in the United States is critical and growing. As scholars increasingly employ qualitative methodologies and methods in studying undocumented students, it is important to consider the specific challenges, nuances, and benefits of doing so. Undocumented students have a right to a public elementary and secondary education regardless of immigration status, per the 1982 court case Plyler v. Doe. While the stress that undocumented students face during their K-12 years are real and consequential, this stress becomes particularly acute in their postsecondary lives when education is neither guaranteed nor readily accessible. Qualitative research gives insight into the complex obstacles undocumented students face and advocates for the institutional and social change necessary to best support them. Existing qualitative research on undocumented students employs various methodologies and methods including but not limited to narrative inquiry, testimonio, phenomenology, case studies, ethnography, discourse analysis, and grounded theory. Among the salient issues that scholars must take into account when engaging in such research are the ethical, logistical, and relational problems that arise when working with undocumented people; the politicization of researching undocumented students; and the power and privilege that researchers possess in the researcher–participant relationship. Within every stage of the research process, researchers need to take special care when working with undocumented students to ensure their anonymity, respect their lived experiences, and advocate for their human rights. Undocumented research participants are in need of extra protection due to their undocumented status, and this need should not be conflated with weakness. Often, undocumented participants are framed as illegal, powerless, vulnerable, fearful, and in the shadows. While it is true that undocumented people face intense, life-altering, and consequential struggles relative to their undocumented status, it is also true that their intelligence, resilience, and persistence are equally intense. Researchers have an obligation to bring undocumented students’ authentic experiences to the fore in ways that acknowledge their undocumented status and the related struggles while affirming their agency and resistance. How they employ methodological practices is central to this goal.

Article

A Cross-National Study of Ethical School Culture  

Orly Shapira-Lishchinsky

This study addresses a common concept, ethical school culture, in 30 countries. It presents and outlines its dimensions, based on an analysis of their codes of ethics for teachers. The findings generated a multi-dimensional model of ethical school culture that included six dimensions: caring for the pupils, teachers' profession, teachers' collegial relationships, parental involvement, community involvement, and respecting rules and regulations. The study indicated that “ethical school culture” generates from the interaction between the formal ethical aspects, such as educational policy that encourages high standards, and informal ethical aspects, such as ethical norms that perceive teachers’ role modeling as important for maintenance of the profession’s status. In addition, the findings elicited that schools with an ethical culture are not closed educational systems but rather open educational systems that ensure that knowledge will flow from the school to the community and vice versa. This flow of knowledge is in accordance with the ethical goals that advance equity and opportunity for all pupils. Moreover, the similarity that exists between the dimensions in this study and the dimensions in the corporate ethical virtues (CEV) model expand conceptual validity to the generated multidimensional model. In general, this study reveals that schools have an ethical culture characterized by a teachers’ active approach toward promoting their pupils’ ongoing learning and well-being, initiating collaborative learning with colleagues, and promoting parental involvement. This study generated the common meaning of ethical culture in schools, based on teachers’ interactions with colleagues, pupils, parents, community, and regulations. Understanding the meaning of an ethical culture in schools, can help promote ethical teachers, who will know what is expected from an ethical teacher and help promote an ethical culture in their schools. In addition, the findings of this study support the universal nature of the concept ethical school culture and provide deeper insight into the concept of ethical culture in educational systems. This study hopes to encourage the promotion of teachers’ continuing professional development, which focuses on the proposed six dimensions that can lead to a consistently applied ethical school culture.

Article

The Affective Turn in Educational Theory  

Michalinos Zembylas

The “affective turn” in the humanities and social sciences has developed some of the most innovative and productive theoretical ideas in recent years, bringing together psychoanalytically informed theories of subjectivity and subjection, theories of the body and embodiment, and political theories and critical analysis. Although there are clearly different approaches in the affective turn that range from psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, (post-)Deleuzian perspectives, theories of the body, and embodiment to affective politics, there is a substantial turn to the intersections of the social, cultural, and political with the psychic and the unconscious. The affective turn, then, marks a shift in thought in critical theory through an exploration of the complex interrelations of discursive practices, the human body, social and cultural forces, and individually experienced but historically situated affects and emotions. Work in this area has become known as “critical emotion studies” or “critical affect studies.” Just as in other disciplinary areas, there has been a huge surge of interest in education concerning the study of affect and emotion. Affect and emotion have appeared and reappeared in educational theory and practice over the past several decades through a variety of theoretical lenses. For psychologists working with theories of cognition, for example, the meaning of these terms is very different compared to that of a sociologist or philosopher using social or political theories of power. In general, psychologists investigate emotional states and their impact on the body and mind/cognition, whereas “affect” is a much broader term denoting modes of influence, movement, intensity, and change. Within these two meanings—a more psychologized notion focused on the “emotions” as these are usually understood and a more wider perspective on “affect” highlighting difference, process, and force—the affective turn in education expands our thinking and research by attempting to enrich our understanding of how teachers and students are moved, what inspires or pains them, how feelings and memories play into teaching and learning. The affective turn, then, is a particular and particularly focused set of ideas well worth considering, especially because it enables power critiques of various kinds. What the affective turn contributes to education and other disciplines is that it draws attention to the entanglement of affects and emotions with everyday life in new ways. More importantly, the affective turn creates important ethical, political, and pedagogical openings in educators’ efforts to make transformative interventions in educational spaces.

Article

Authenticity in Education  

Lauren Bialystok

Authenticity is a concept with an impressive history in Western philosophy and a significant hold on the modern imagination. Inseparable from conceptions of truth and individual fulfillment, authenticity remains a powerful ideal, even as it eludes precise definition. Recently it has also become an organizing principle for many educational initiatives. Education, like authenticity, is opposed to dissimulation, ignorance, manipulation, and related states of misalignment between truth and experience. There is widespread enthusiasm for the promotion of authenticity across different types of education and in the personal identity of educators and students. Most of the scholarly literature pertaining to authenticity in education falls outside the scope of philosophical inquiry. But in all cases, the pursuit of authenticity in education rests on various philosophical assumptions about the nature of truth, reality, ethics, and, ultimately, the aims of education. With the influence of Dewey and 20th-century progressive movements in education, authenticity entered the vernacular of educational theory and practice. Attention to the relationship between learning environments and the “real” world has generated pervasive commitments to authentic learning, authentic pedagogies, authentic curriculum, and authentic assessment practices. Here, “authenticity” is used to track the verisimilitude of an educational practice with respect to some external reality. It constitutes an ontological claim about levels of “reality,” as well as an epistemological attitude toward learning as the construction of knowledge. In this respect, authenticity intersects debates about constructivism and relativism in education. Likewise, teachers are exhorted to be authentic qua teachers, elevating their true selves above institutional anonymity as a key part of effective teaching. This phenomenon trades on the values of truthfulness and autonomy that are prized in Western modernity but also problematized in the personal identity and ethics literature. The authenticity of students has also been championed as an educational aim, even as the methods for eliciting authenticity in others have been criticized as self-defeating or culturally limiting. Personal authenticity stands in a contested relationship to autonomy, which has been promoted as the key aim of liberal education. The project of creating authentic people through education remains an intense site of research and debate, with important implications for educational ethics and liberal values.

Article

Conversation in Education  

Emile Bojesen

Conversation is a topic of burgeoning interest in the context of educational theory and as a prospective means for conducting empirical research. As a nonformal educational experience, as well as within the classroom, or as a means to researching various aspects of educational practice and institutions, research on or through conversation in education draws on a range of theoretical resources, often understanding conversation as analogous to dialogue or dialectic. Although only brought into this research context in the early 21st century, the philosopher who has engaged most extensively with conversation is Maurice Blanchot (1907–2003). His text, The Infinite Conversation, originally published in French as L’Entretien infini in 1969, responded to and took forward many elements of what would go on to be described as poststructuralist or deconstructive thought. Blanchot’s notion of conversation (in French, “entretien”) is distinct from those reliant upon philosophical conceptions of dialogue or dialectic. Itself the subject of philosophical research, Blanchotian conversation has been interpreted variously as either not sufficiently taking into account the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas, or else expanding beyond its more limited scope. Some of these interpretations stress the ethical and political implications of conversation; however, none engage specifically with its educational implications. Blanchotian conversation allows for contradicting and contrasting thoughts to be voiced without being brought to shared consensus or internal resolution. Its “lesson” is not only in the thought that it produces but also in the ethical relation of sincerity, openness, and non-imposition that it develops. Unlike some recent applications of conversation to educational context, Blanchotian conversation does not re-entrench the subject to be educated but rather deprioritizes the subject in favor of the movement of thought and the ethical “between” of conversation itself. This notion of conversation has corollaries in political thought, notably with Jacques Rancière’s understanding of “dissensus” and Karl Hess’s thought of an “anarchism without hyphens,” as well as the politically informed educational ideas of Elizabeth Ellsworth and the educational practice and research of Camilla Stanger.

Article

Hospitality and Higher Education  

Amanda Fulford

In the 21st-century landscape of higher education, there is increasing consideration given to documenting, managing, and regulating practices of teaching and learning in the university. In particular, there has been an emphasis on what students can expect of their experience of studying at university, and of the expectations around contact time with academic staff. This has led to the development of metrics that assess teaching intensity and value-for-money. Such developments anticipate certain modes of being with students, ones that tend to give scant attention to what it is to be in a relationship of mutual hospitality with another person. While we can think of hospitality more broadly in different educational contexts, especially in terms of moves toward an ethics of hospitality, there is also a space for thinking about a pedagogy of hospitality, especially as it may be realized in contemporary higher education. Here, hospitality is experienced in the pedagogical moment—through conversation with others in which we are invited to welcome alterity. This reading of hospitality is richly illustrated in the American philosopher and essayist Henry David Thoreau’s celebrated work, Walden. Examples from Thoreau’s work show how the concept of hospitality may open up other ways of thinking about what it means to be with students in the contemporary university, and what possibilities for mutual education this concept may help realize.

Article

Gender, Nonhuman Animals, and Education  

Annie Schultz

Educational theorists are increasingly concerned with the areas of environmental education, ecological education, and animal studies. As social and political efforts to “go green” and make our industrial and personal habits more sustainable and ethical increase, schools as socializing agents take up these initiatives. Students already engage with nonhumans in significant ways in schools: they might interact with live nonhuman animals in extracurricular activities; they might dissect nonhuman animals in their science classes; they might eat the bodies of nonhuman animals at lunch; and they might read about literary or poetic representations of nonhuman animals in English classes. A continuously developing area of educational theory is how the ways in which students engage with nonhuman animals is gendered. Posthumanism and ecofeminism are philosophical paradigms that educational theorists engage with to think through the ways hierarchies of sentiency, humanity, and rationality are propagated by literary, cultural, and metaphorical representations of nonhuman others. There is a long history of women-animal comparisons that is evident in the literature and other cultural artifacts that we teach about in schools. Many students are also served animals as food in school cafeterias. Ecofeminist scholars and scholars of educational philosophy are likewise concerned with the gendered aspects of animal bodies as food and how the ontological representations of the bodies of women and their labor manifest in schools. Educational researchers are investigating these literary, metaphorical, and cultural comparisons.

Article

Feminist Theory and Its Use in Qualitative Research in Education  

Emily Freeman

Feminist theory rose in prominence in educational research during the 1980s and experienced a resurgence in popularity during the late 1990s−2010s. Standpoint epistemologies, intersectionality, and feminist poststructuralism are the most prevalent theories, but feminist researchers often work across feminist theoretical thought. Feminist qualitative research in education encompasses a myriad of methods and methodologies, but projects share a commitment to feminist ethics and theories. Among the commitments are the understanding that knowledge is situated in the subjectivities and lived experiences of both researcher and participants and research is deeply reflexive. Feminist theory informs both research questions and the methodology of a project in addition to serving as a foundation for analysis. The goals of feminist educational research include dismantling systems of oppression, highlighting gender-based disparities, and seeking new ways of constructing knowledge.

Article

Animal Personhood in Sustainability Education  

Helen Kopnina

Animal personhood research comes from different theoretical directions: animal rights, animal welfare, compassionate conservation, animal rights law, and many related disciplines. The term “personhood” is taken to lie in three main characteristics, including the capacity to act intentionally, the capacity to experience feelings, and the possession of moral worth. This division is complementary to three approaches: the perfectionist approach, the humanistic approach, and the interactive approach, with the third approach being the strongest. The basic idea is that personhood can be linked to legal rights based on recognition of intrinsic rights based on sentience or other characteristics of a living being, including personality. The move toward recognizing animal personhood in education promises to signify a return to a nonanthropocentric ethic that characterizes both the most transformative forms of education for environmental sustainability and the type of education that stresses responsibility and compassion toward all living beings. This type of education, at both the school and university levels, supports both ecocentrism and animal ethics and supports the rights to life of all living beings on Earth—including, to state the obvious, humans. Many initiatives supporting developing education for animal personhood have emerged within the literature on (sustainability) education and practice. This literature emphasizes multiple forms of education, ranging from education for sustainability, education related to ethics (anything that fits under the broad banner of sustainability, from human rights to social justice and indeed animal welfare), for example, including posthumanist education, action research, education for sustainable development, curriculum development, pedagogical studies that specifically engage with animal rights, and animal welfare education. More specifically, Animal Protection Education provides students and teachers with the information they need to understand and discuss the concept of granting legal personhood to animals.

Article

Relational Pedagogy  

Mary Jo Hinsdale and Ann-Louise Ljungblad

One could easily argue that the pedagogy of relation is not new: a genealogy of the approach would send us back to the ancient Greek philosophers. However, in recent years relational pedagogy has been taken up in novel and ever-deepening ways. It is a response to ongoing efforts at school reform that center on teacher and administrator accountability, based on a constraining view of education as the effective teaching of content. In this view, methods, curricula, and high-stakes testing overshadow the human relationship between teacher and student that relational pedagogy theorists place at the center of educational exchanges. When relationships are secondary to content, the result can be disinterested or alienated students and teachers who feel powerless to step outside the mandated curriculum of their school district. Contemporary relational theorists offer an alternative vision of pedagogy in a concerning era of teacher accountability. Internationally, teachers experience challenging educational environments that reflect troubled social histories across differences of socioeconomic class, race and ethnicity, gender, and ability status. Climate change, civil and economic instability, and war add global pressures that bring immigrant and refugee students into classrooms around the world. In the United States, histories of slavery, genocide, and indigenous removal continue to resound through all levels of education. Putting the teacher-student relationship at the heart of education offers a way to serve all students, allowing them to flourish in spite of the many challenges we face in the 21st century. Relational pedagogy is inspired by a range of philosophical writings: this article focuses on theorists whose work is informed by the concept of caring, as developed by Nel Noddings, with the critical perspective of Paulo Freire, or the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas. Although these approaches to ethical educational relations do not necessarily mesh together easily, the tensions among them can bear fruit that informs our pedagogy. After outlining the theoretical contours of relational pedagogy, we will turn to more recent empirical work in the field. New studies help us understand how to turn theory into classroom practices that will benefit all students.

Article

Teachers as Conscientious Objectors  

Doris A. Santoro

Teachers often characterize their interest in and commitment to the profession as moral: a desire to support students, serve their communities, or uphold civic ideals embedded in the promise of public education. These initial and sustaining moral impulses are well documented in research on teaching and teacher education. However, moral commitments can also be a source of teachers’ dissatisfaction and resistance, especially in the age of the market-based Global Education Reform Movement. This article explores the phenomenon of conscientious objection in teaching as an enactment of professional ethics. Conscientious objection describes teachers’ actions when they take a stand against job expectations that contradict or compromise their professional ethics. Teachers who refuse to enact policies and practices may be represented by popular media, school leaders, policymakers, and educational researchers as merely recalcitrant or insubordinate. This perspective misses the moral dimensions of resistance. Teachers may refuse to engage in practices or follow mandates from the standpoint of professional conscience. This article also highlights varieties of conscientious objection that are drawn from global examples of teacher resistance. Finally, the article explores the role of teachers unions as potential catalysts for collective forms of conscientious objection.

Article

Questioning Nature and Environmental Ethics in Schools  

Jorge Moreira, Fátima Alves, and Ana Mendonça

Contemporary sciences and societies are facing several problems when analyzing the relationship between the natural and social dimensions of the world as reflected in the field of education. A serious effort must be urgently made to identify and tackle environmental problems in order to understand the world in which we live, in ways that are beneficial to present and future life on Earth. In this context, it is fundamental to create a new social order in a way that thinking “out of the box” can emerge with other orders closer to the diversity of life that coexist on the planet. Consequently, the awareness of the complexity and multidimensionality of our world requires the building of new forms of reflexivity and the development of critical thinking, reversing the still predominant characteristics of modern societies such as compartmentalization of knowledge, unhealthy competition, profit-seeking motivations, the exploitation of nature, and excessive individualist and anthropocentric approaches. In this regard, educational institutions play a relevant role in shaping future human actions to be more ethically harmonic (both environmentally and socially) as they are sites of knowledge production and sharing. Hence, it is crucial to rethink the entire educational paradigm and learning system (objectives, curricula, pedagogical strategies, instruments, competencies, school management framework, and even school buildings), because schools often function as “islands,” isolating students from nature, the community, and the “real world,” not preparing them to be well-informed and conscious citizens nor for the challenges that lie ahead. Some theoretical and practical alternatives are needed since schools actually embody the paradoxes and dilemmas of the current societal malaise but have not yet been able to deal with them or to provide adequate effective responses.

Article

Life Stories, Criminal Justice, and Caring Research  

Chrissie Rogers

In the context of offenders who have learning difficulties, autism, and/or social, emotional, and mental health problems, their families, and professionals who work with them, caring and ethical research processes can be explored via fieldnotes. Conducting life story interviews and recording fieldnotes within qualitative criminological, education, and sociological research have long since been used to document and analyze communities and institutions and the private and public spheres. They richly tell us about specific research contexts, or everyday lives and relationships, that interview transcripts alone perhaps overlook. It is in the process of recording and reflecting upon research relationships that we can see and understand care-full research. But caring and ethical research works in an interdependent and relational way. Therefore, the participant and the researcher are at times vulnerable, and recognition of this is critical in considering meaningful and healthy research practices. However, the acknowledgment of the fact that particular types of research can be messy, chaotic, and emotional is necessary in understanding caring research.

Article

Concepts of Care in Teacher Education  

Nel Noddings

Care theory emphasizes relation, attending to the expressed needs of the other in human encounters. It does not ignore virtue and justice, but its central concept is relation. In education, this means that the expressed needs of students must be considered—not always satisfied, but always included in the teacher’s deliberations. Choice, continuity, and connection are central concepts in the application of care theory to education. In consonance with its emphasis on attention to their expressed needs, care theory recommends listening to students and engaging in discussion to learn about their interests and help them to make intelligent choices. It also suggests that we give more attention to continuity—that is, to the possibility of keeping students and teachers together for more than one year. Similarly, continuity and connection may be increased by encouraging interdisciplinary studies. Finally, care theory emphasizes the need for critical thinking and civility—to educate, not fight, those who may be morally mistaken.

Article

Narrative and Curriculum Theorizing  

Petra Munro Hendry

Within contemporary, conventional, interpretive, qualitative paradigms, narrative and curriculum theorizing have traditionally been understood as primary constructs through which educational researchers seek to explain, represent, and conduct inquiry about education. This article traces shifting understandings of Western constructs of narrative and curriculum theorizing from a modernist perspective, in which they were conceived primarily as methods central to the representation of knowledge, to postmodernist perspectives in which they are conceptualized not as epistemological constructs, but as ethical/ontological systems of becoming through/in relationships. Historically, the emergence of “curriculum” and “narrative” (as phenomena) within a modernist, technocratic paradigm, rooted in an epistemological worldview, were constructed as “technologies” whose purpose was to represent knowledge. Current critiques of narrative and curriculum theorizing from the perspective of postmodern, poststructural, feminist, and new materialist perspectives illuminate understandings of these constructs as ethical-ontological-epistemological phenomena. From this perspective, narrative and curriculum theorizing have shifted from being understood as grounded in epistemology in order to provide “better” understanding/knowledge of experience, and alternatively are understood as ethical obligations to “be” in a web of relationships/intra-actions.

Article

Curriculum and the Intersection of Ethics and Aesthetics  

Donald Blumenfeld-Jones

Curriculum Studies has an abiding concern for creating curriculum that leads toward the good society. Typically, this concern has taken either a technical approach to citizenship education or political projects, redressing society’s ills and wrongs. The citizenship approach attempts to establish correct citizenship behavior. The political approach attempts to reorganize the structure of society. Neither approach attends to the inner ethical life of the person. A third approach also exists in the Curriculum Studies literature: how ethics and aesthetics are grounds for educating for a good society through cultivating the inner ethical life. Asserting the intersection of ethics and aesthetics has an old history throughout the world. In the European tradition, it begins with the Greeks, who theorized that one of the major areas of inquiry, axiology, actually was two areas of concern, asking two conjoined questions, “What is ‘the good’?” and “What is ‘the beautiful’?” They recognized that these two questions had intersecting concerns but went no further than a cursory mention. This insight has continued, in various forms, to this day. The Chinese tradition, which began before Confucius, theorizes a similar connection. Contemporary Curriculum Studies literature takes two approaches to the ethics–aesthetics intersection. The first approach favors studying how people encountering already made art may be aided in developing an ethical life through those encounters. This literature uses three ethics systems: pragmatism, affective education (akin to naturalism), and utilitarianism. In this approach, the relationship of aesthetics to ethics is basically instrumental: encountering aesthetic objects is an instrument that can lead to an ethical life. The second approach makes art-making central to cultivating or enlivening ethical consciousness. To varying degrees, this approach treats the experience of making art (cultivating an aesthetic consciousness) as a “door” to ethical consciousness such that one cannot necessarily pass through the door without it. Art-making only means making art, which all people are capable of doing (rather than a focus on training professional artists). Both approaches offer a significant opportunity to rethink the contribution aesthetics and the arts can make to fostering the good society. They also offer an opportunity to rethink what it means to do Curriculum Studies by considering the place of body and aesthetics in all of Curriculum Studies.

Article

Postmodern Curriculum  

Karen A. Krasny and Patrick Slattery

Postmodernism is a mid-20th-century response to 18th-century Enlightenment rationality. As a movement that developed across a diverse range of disciplines, it is not so much defined by a distinct chronology but rather is predicated on a recognition of the past and has come to represent a way of operating. The late Italian semiotician and writer Umberto Eco argued from an ideological point of view that every period in history has had its postmodernism. Architect and critical theorist Charles Jencks further polemicized postmodernism as a specific form of cultural resistance. In his view, postmodernism operates as a communicative set of values to address the needs of a society, and he cites architecture’s response to the pressing need for mass housing and large-scale urban redevelopment as an example of postmodern innovation. Inspired by postmodernism as a critical movement in the arts, architecture, and philosophy, postmodern curriculum similarly works to reject the universalizing ideals of modernity. It shares Jencks’s polemic stance and would have us reimagine the literal and metaphorical bricks and mortar of schools, colleges, and universities to advance a broader understanding of curriculum with the aim of addressing the need to provide fair and equitable access to education. The postmodern notion that the past has everything to do with the present is central to decolonizing efforts aimed at acknowledgment and reconciliation of the devastating and oppressive ends of curriculum as institutions. For example, government-sponsored residential schools in Canada and the United States stand as a glaring example of the abject failure of modern education to embrace the communicative ideals of postmodernism in its response to First Nations people. Postmodern curriculum is committed to a decentering and challenging agenda aimed at exposing and undermining master narratives of truth, language, knowledge, and power. Dynamic and responsive, postmodern curriculum’s holistic and ecological approach to education works to dissolve the artificial boundary between the outside community and the classroom to celebrate and honor the interconnectedness of knowledge, experience, international and local communities, the natural world, and life itself.