32 SES 01, Theoretical Perspectives on Organizational Education Topics
In this paper we wish to discuss the wicked issue of educational freedom by approaching it from different (i.e. legal, pedagogic and philosophic) perspectives. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) education is seen as a fundamental human right. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages (art. 26). The State is responsible to organise free compulsory education for everyone – despite one’s nationality, religious beliefs, etc. Furthermore, the Declaration states that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children....” (art. 26). The state has to respect that parents can choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities (see also The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), art. 13; OIDEL-report). And finally: Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and (...) promotes individual freedom and empowerment (…). (art. 26). Freedom, in this way, refers to the purpose of education (i.e. ‘why education’).
However, educational freedom has become a complex issue. On the one hand, one cannot ignore certain contemporary influences that reduce this constitutional educational freedom. Some accuse educational policy makers of the excesses of top-down control, testing and bureaucracy and a lack of educational flexibility in order to dismiss the academic freedom and the autonomy of teachers. Others refer to the impact of educational studies on learning effectiveness and efficacy. As Glenn and De Groof state: ‘the freedom or school autonomy may be sacrificed to accountability’ (Glenn & De Groof, 2015). On the other hand, defenders of educational freedom refer to the Freedom of Education Index: “(…) it is important to notice that among countries with the highest level of freedom we find some of the best PISA results; such as the Republic of Korea, Finland, the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and Ireland.” (Fernandez, A. & Grau, I., 2016, p. 324).
What is at stake today is how to maintain balance between a controlling government in relation to the autonomy of teachers taking for granted that both actors focus on liberal education (cf. Glenn & De Groof, 2015; Ceulemans, 2015).
Challenged by the work of Hannah Arendt we want to reconsider the (liberal) idea of freedom (Arendt, 1958; 1961). As Arendt argues freedom is not the ability to choose amongst a set of possible alternatives, the absence of domination and obstruction (cf. Mill, 1859) nor does it find its origin in personal will. “Freedom is to call something into being which did not exist before, which was not given, not even as an object of cognition or imagination, and which therefore, strictly speaking, could not be known” (Arendt, 1961, p. 151). To be free means that our actions must therefore be without purpose nor intention. If not, we are performers or act on the demands of our will (i.e. desire). Only by action and moreover, in the inter-action between human beings (what we call ‘dialogue’), we reveal what really matters to us (Arendt, 1961, p. 146). Precisely in the dialogue with others where arguments and perspectives are exchanged in order to understand each other’s point of view, a new world will be created. At that precise moment of discussion and deliberation, we form a communality which Arendt calls a ‘world’. A (small) public world, as Arendt explains, is where things make sense for everybody. Exactly this is the effect(ivity) of the act of freedom, the act of ‘being educated’.
Arendt, H. (1961). Between Past and Future. Six Exercises in Political Thought. Viking Press. Arendt, H. (1958). The Human Condition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Carcasson, M. & Sprain, L. (2016). Beyond Problem Solving: Reconceptualizing the Work of Public Deliberation as Deliberative Inquiry. Communication Theory 26/1, pp. 41-63 Retrieved from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/comt.12055/full Ceulemans, C. (2015). Beroepsprofiel van de leraar als black box. Analyse van de werking van onderwijsstandaarden. Garant. Fernandez, A. & Grau, I. (2016). Freedom of Education Index. Worldwide report 2016 on freedom of Education. OIDEL & Fondazione Novae Terrae. Retrieved from http://www.novaeterrae.eu/images/FEI_completo_Eng_Fra.pdf Franken, L. (2016). The freedom of religion and the freedom of education in twenty-first-century Belgium: a critical approach. British Journal of Religious Education, 38(3), 308-324. Freedom of education index worldwide report 2016 (OIDEL-report), retrieved from: http://www.novaeterrae.eu/en/documents/847-freedom-of-education-index-research.html Glenn, C. & De Groof, J. (2012). Balancing Freedom, Autonomy and Accountability in Education (volume 2). Wolf Legal Publishers. Hansen, K.H. (2008). The Curriculum Workshop: a place for deliberative inquiry and teacher professional learning. European Educational Research Journal, 7/4, pp. 487-500. Retrieved from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.487 Kanuka, H. (2010). Deliberative Inquiry. In M. Savin-Baden & C. Howell Major (Eds.), New Approaches to Qualitative Research. Wisdom and uncertainty. (pp. 100-108). Oxon: Routledge. Karran, T. (2009). Academic Freedom in Europe: Reviewing Unesco's "Recommendation". British Journal of Educational Studies 57 (2), 191 - 215. London, S. (2005). The Power of Deliberative Dialogue. In Kingston, J.R. (ed.). Public Thought and Foreign Policy. Dayton: Kettering Foundation Press. Løvlie, L. & Standish, P. (2002). Introduction: Bildung and the Idea of a Liberal Education. Journal of Philosophy of Education 36 (3), 317-340. Mill, J.S. (1859). On Liberty. London: Longman, Roberts & Green. Savin-Baden, M., & Major, C. H. (2013). Qualitative research: The essential guide to theory and practice. London: Routledge. Simons, M. & Masschelein, M. (2014). ‘It Makes Us Believe That It Is About Our Freedom’: Notes on the Irony of the Learning Apparatus. In Smeyers, P. & Depaepe, M. (eds.). Educational Research: the Educationalization of Social Problems (Educational Research, nr. 3), pp 191-204. Yun, S. (2014). Education, Freedom, and Temporality: A Response to Biesta and Säfström's Manifesto in Journal of Philosophy of Education 48 (3), 385-399.
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