One of the fundamental tasks of philosophy is the search for the just state, or “best regime.” Discerning the right, or most desirable, norms and principles of governance and the fair treatment of citizens extends back into antiquity. To ask “What is just?” is to make salient enduring questions about what people are owed as members of a political community, as well as the kind of political community that can ensure that people receive what they are owed. Answering the question, “what is just” also requires inquiry into the scope and substance of education within a just and fair society. This, because a just regime is not self-sufficient. It must be cultivated, developed, and preserved. Here we are concerned with the values and aims that a just society should strive to provide for citizens and how access to those values and aims should be justly structured. For example, what kind of educational provision should be allocated to all citizens as a matter or basic justice or fairness? How should limited educational goods and resources be allocated between different citizens? To what extent should education promote norms of conduct and points of view among members of a political community in order to promote greater justice and fairness between citizens, and what should these norms and points of view consist? However, in addition to the reasons why education can contribute to a just society, engaging in these questions also requires a careful consideration of the reasons why (or why not) people are owed an education. I am here suggesting that philosophers interested in education and justice must contend with what it is about education that might make it something that individuals rightly have a claim to as a matter of justice alongside a consideration of the ways in which the provision of education can promote a justice in a more widespread sense. The two are not one and the same. For example, imagine an indoctrinative education that ensured future citizens acted with flawless impartiality and fairness in all things resulting in a society of perfect equality. One might claim that, merits aside, such an education would unjustly deny individual citizens an education for critical thinking and independence. Consequently, inquiry into education and justice raises numerous philosophically complex questions arising from the interplay of general political principles and educational values including the nature and scope of educational rights, tensions between the cultivation of individuals and the development of communities, the attribution of differences in educational achievement to desert (or not), and the role and limits of educational allocation in supporting a more equal society, to name just a few.
M. Francyne Huckaby
The article explores the connections and contradictions between community organizing and curriculum. Huckaby distinguishes coordinated habits that move a. populace in a particular direction from community organizing that is intentional collective work that is corrective in nature as it aims to advance freedom, rectify injustices, and amend inequalities. Community organizing also functions to expose and reveal the oppressive structures and processed bolstered by hidden curricula that implicitly inform individual actions and practices enacted by people en masse. Community organizing builds movements that are collective in nature, taking into consideration the wisdom and experiences of the community without imposing a prescribed solution or agenda to the issues. This piece specifically attends to grassroots community organizing around neoliberal impositions on education. To disrupt, resist, and refuse neoliberal policies, laws, and structures that further marginalize individuals, grassroots efforts must go beyond networking. Huckaby turns Haraway’s cyborg theory to understand the necessity of weaving, rather than simply networking, to create and sustain solidarity that binds different kinds of things, moving in different directions together. Weaving makes for transformation through connection, affinity, coalition, and political kinship. This process, a process toward not only transformation but also toward freedom offers reciprocal, yet unguaranteed benefits for individuals and the world. As individuals work in groups to better understand their needs, the world, too, has an opportunity to learn. While community organizing as curriculum may not solve all the problems of the world, it acts as a robust vehicle for collective steps toward various types of freedom as individuals demand rights for themselves and others. This text offers examples and forms of community and grassroots organizing including testimonies, teachers’ strike, #hashtags, and teach-ins conceptualized via participatory democracy, critical pedagogy, Kaupapa Maori research, cyborg weaving, freedom from, and freedom for. Community organizing as curriculum and for curriculum critique and reform has a corrective purpose that reveals injustices and seeks to unravel inequalities, while weaving relations that create and sustain solidarity and conjoined liberation.
Harald Thuen and Nina Volckmar
Comprehensive schooling has been a cornerstone in the development of the Norwegian welfare state since World War II. Over the years it has been extended, initially from 7 to 9 years and later to 10-year compulsory schooling, since the late 1990s including virtually all Norwegian children between the ages of 6 and 16. In education policy, the interests of the community versus the individual have played a key role, reflected in a line of conflict between the political left and right. During the first three to four decades after the war, through the Labor Party, the left wing was in power and developed education policy according to a social-democratic model. The ideal of equality and community in schools had precedence. The vision was to create a school for all that had a socially and culturally unifying effect on the nation and its people. Social background, gender, and geographical location should no longer create barriers between pupils. Ideally, school was to be understood as a “miniature democracy,” where pupils would be trained in solidarity and cooperation. Compulsory schooling was thus regarded as an instrument for social integration and for evening out social inequalities. But one challenge remained: How could a common school for all best take care of the individual needs of each pupil? The principle of individualized teaching within the framework of a common school was incorporated in the education policy of social democracy and was subjected to experimentation and research from an early stage. But with the political shift to the right toward the 2000s, a sharper polarization can be observed between the interests of the community versus the interests of the individual. The political right profiles education policy in opposition to the left-wing emphasis on the social purpose of the school system. In the early 21st century, the interests of knowledge, the classroom as a learning arena, and the performance of each pupil take precedence. Based on the model of New Public Management, a new organizational culture is taking shape in the school system. Where the political left formed its policy from the perspective of “equality” during the first postwar decades, the right is now forming it from the perspective of “freedom.” And this is taking place without significant opposition from the left. The terms “equality” and “equity” provide the framework for the analysis of the changing polarity between collective and individual considerations and between pupils’ freedom and social solidarity in postwar education.
Besides being protected by the First Amendment, the right of students and faculty to express different ideas and opinions—even discomfiting ideas and opinions—is central to the academic mission of schools, colleges, and universities. Two familiar arguments articulated by John Stuart Mill underscore this point: First, the dynamic clash of contrary ideas offers the best prospect we have of arriving at the “whole truth” about any complex subject. Second, unless it is subject to periodic questioning and critique, any established and received bit of wisdom “will be held in the manner of a prejudice with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds.” These arguments notwithstanding, heated debates persist as to the proper bounds of free speech in educational institutions dedicated to open inquiry and the examination of multiple viewpoints. Two distinct positions provide us with a useful framework for analyzing many of these debates. The libertarian position rejects regulation of campus speech—except in extreme cases of speech that invade the rights of individuals or small specific groups of people—while instead championing a maximally free marketplace of ideas. The liberal democratic position, however, proposes that, in the interest of scholarly objectivity and rational autonomy, verbal interaction that denigrates or stigmatizes others on account of ascriptive characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation should be constrained in higher education. Adherents to the libertarian position oppose the implementation of campus hate speech codes on the grounds that such codes violate First Amendment principles and are not an effective bulwark against prejudice, discrimination, and inequality. Adherents to the liberal democratic position support narrowly tailored speech codes that formally sanction slurs, “fighting words,” and the like, but they generally believe that most of the work of regulating abusive speech should occur through the informal enforcement of new “norms of civility” on campus. Although these two positions constitute a major fault line in debates over campus speech, they do not capture the range of standpoints taken by participants in the debates. To cite one noteworthy example, some scholars, in the name of what they refer to as “an affirmative action pedagogy,” call for broader restrictions on speech (particularly classroom speech) than either the libertarian or liberal democratic positions endorse.
William Ayers, Rick Ayers, and Joel Westheimer
Social movements change the world. Thus, they shape curriculum. Participation in movements educates the public by altering viewpoints and actions. Likewise, participants learn through participation in social movements; therefore, social movements can be considered curricula. The experiences of social movements are curricula that exist in and out of schools. Examples of the myriad connections among school curriculum, nonschool curriculum, and social movements interact in dynamic fluidity. Curriculum is much more than a course syllabus, set of plans, or the indoctrinations or liberations intended by schools. Curriculum includes all experiences of schooling and contexts that influence schooling: intended, taught, tested, hidden, excluded, outside, peer-driven, and more. It encompasses knowledge, relationships, and interpretations that students bring to school or anywhere else. These multiple dimensions of curriculum also exist in the diverse experiences, institutions, and gatherings of everyday life. Alternative forms of curriculum have been envisioned and enacted over the centuries to overcome the dominance of autocratic forms of education. Social movements educate and are therefore curricular. A noteworthy example of curricula of social movements is the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the Mississippi Freedom Schools in the United States. Another example is the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, founded by Myles Horton and based on the Danish model of folk schools, which was a center of inspiration and praxis for participants in the Civil Rights Movement. Emancipatory educational movements are exemplified in the problem-posing work of Paulo Freire, initially in Brazil, evolving to counter the oppressiveness of “banking” forms of education in many parts of the world. Freire has shown how oppressed persons could be major creators of their own education, by learning to name, write, and read the world to compose a more just world. In the second decade of the 21st century, young climate activists, such as Xiye Bastida and Greta Thunberg, have advocated ecological renewal; this has grown into a worldwide movement, captured in the title “Fridays for Future.” Local examples include the insightful stories in The Journal of Ordinary Thought, inspired and evoked by Hal Adams and authored by the parents of students in some of Chicago’s most impoverished Black neighborhoods in the late 20th century. Global movements include Black Lives Matter, which has manifested itself as an act of solidarity in the second decade of the 21st century. Social movements, of which the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. are an emblematic example, teach the power of learning and the learning of power. They help raise the deepest and most worthwhile questions: What does it mean to be human? Who am I in relation to others? What kind of a society do we want to create? How can schools and other public spaces become generative sites of contention and authentic engagement? That is where a curriculum of social movements comes to life. What lessons might educators learn from the examples of a curriculum of social movements? How should we live? How will we live? What will you do about it?