13 SES 11 B, Social Bond, Inclusion and Exclusion, and Education as a Human Right
Recent discussions of educational theorists such as e.g. Biesta (2008), Curren (2009), Masschelein and Simons (2013), McCowan (2013) and Barrow (2014) have in different ways highlighted questions concerning the justification, purpose and aims of education. Recent discussions in the field of social ontology (e.g. Searle 2010 and Tuomela 2016) have highlighted collective intentionality and the recognitions of status functions as grounds for social institutions. I will argue that both of these fields are highly relevant for the bigger question that concerns the justification of education as a human right.
During the second half of the 20th century education has been recognized as a human right in several international conventions, and the UN also holds that “Education shall be free” and that “Elementary education shall be compulsory” (UN Article 26). The education-as-a-human right-project could be viewed as a good intention of global inclusion in recognising that all individuals have a right to education in virtue of being humans, and the idea of education as a human right thus has a tremendous global significance. However, if we look at this more critically, the education-as-a-human right-project, may not only be grounded in altruistic good intensions for the disadvantaged. As pointed out by McCowan (2013), education is also recognised as a means for (economic) development, and initiatives such as Education for All (EFA) and The Fast Track Initiative (now The Global Partnership for Education) could be viewed as an attempt to secure global capitalism (p. 6). But even if we do not recognize it as a conspiracy of the western capitalist world we may have concerns about the top down nature of the initiative, and the risk, in this political intention of inclusion, that the focus easily shifts from the content of education and education as a human right to the implementation and enforcement.
The question of what exactly human rights are is far from being resolved, and neither is the question of what is meant by “education” in this context. The concept of human rights has a long history and yet, as Griffin (2008) points out: “The term ‘human right’ is nearly criterionless. There are unusually few criteria for determining when the term is used correctly and when incorrectly—and not just among politicians, but among philosophers, political theorists, and jurisprudents as well. The language of human rights has, in this way, become debased” (p.15). Griffin contends: “When during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the theological content of the idea was abandoned, nothing was put in its place”. Searle (2010) expresses a similar frustration: “There is a peculiar intellectual hole in current discussions of human rights. Most philosophers, and indeed most people, seem to find nothing problematic in the notion of universal human rights. Indeed, Bernard Williams tells us that there is no problem with the existence of human rights, only with their implementation and enforcement” (p.174). While Griffin aims to give a determinate and substantial notion of human rights, Searle aims at explaining the ontological status of human rights. A common aim for both Griffin and Searle is thus to provide an answer to sceptical views, regarding natural human rights either as “nonsense” (e.g. Bentham and McIntyre) or mere political or practical means. Accordingly, they aim at finding a bottom upjustification of the meaning and existence of human rights. This, I think, could be connected to a bottom up justification of the purpose and aims of education. For education to be considered a right in itself, education must have some intrinsic value. My main question is “How can education be justified as a human right?”.
Conceptual analysis of "human rights" and "education" together with a comparative analysis of different theories within the fields of social ontology, human rights theory and educational theory.
The aim is to show that recent works within the field of social ontology, group agency and collective intentionality, e.g. John Searle (2010) and Raimo Tuomela (2016), are not only relevant for the fields of human rights theory and educational theory but also important because they enable us to move from the individual to the collective (i.e. education as socialization through initiation) as well as from institutional rights and obligations to human rights and obligations, and highlights the social aspects of both human rights and education. My assumption is that this could be an improvement for human rights theories grounded in 'normative agency' (e.g. Griffin 2008) as well as educational theories grounded in initiation (e.g. Peters 1967) and participation (Curren 2009), bridging the supposed gap between agency/autonomy and participation/socialization, and paving a way for a justification of education as a human right grounded in a theory of social ontology.
Barrow, Robin (2014). "Compulsory Common Schooling and Individual Difference" in Philosophical Perspectives on Compulsory Education. Springer Biesta, Gert (2008). "Good education in an age of measurement: on the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education". Educ Asse Eval Acc (2009) 21:33-46 Curren (2009) "Education as a social right in a diverse society", Journal of Philosophy of Education 43(1), p. 45-56 Masschelein, Jan & Simons, Maarten (2013). In Defence of the School A Public Issue. E-ducation, Culture & Society Publishers, Leuven McCowan, Tristan (2013) Education as a Human Right Principles for Universal Entitlements to Learning. Bloomsbury. London Peters, Richard S. (1965). The aims of education. https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/uv/uv/UV9407/aims-of-education.pdf Griffin, James (2008) On Human Rights. Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010 Searle, John R. (2010) Making the Social World. The Structure of Human Civilization. Oxford University Press. Tuomela, Raimo (2016) Social Ontology Collective Intentionality and Group Agents, Oxford University Press
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
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Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
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Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
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