30 SES 11 B, Attitudes and mindsets in ESE
Building forth on Arendt , Biesta , Nussbaum , and Meirieu , and critical reflection on the founding process of a Dutch innovative educational initiative in which the first author participated – i.e. De Bildung Academie  –, what might be called a preparation-participation-tension within contemporary educational thought is apparent. Whereas the mindset of preparation aims for students to obtain and develop all sorts of knowledge, skills, norms, and values that enable their future functioning in the world, the mindset of participation approaches students as participants in the ongoing process of shaping our common world and, notably, themselves herein.
Regarding the preparation-participation-tension, Arendt’s plea  is of a conservative nature: she argues to reserve the mindset of participation for the political realm and focus education on the introduction of ‘newcomers’ into our current world. This linear kind of reasoning – i.e. first-prepare-then-participate – is common in today’s educational landscape [2, 5], however, it is also limited: (1) it assumes the moment of graduation as a turning point in which one moves from ‘in-need-of-preparation’ to ‘ready-to-participate’, whilst real-life development is more gradual, dynamic and complex [3, 6], (2) research accumulating from the field of embodied cognition teaches to understand learning as a situated activity in which experience and action in context are an essential part of learning processes , and, perhaps most important, (3) we are all always already participants; the lives of young people, and our collective societies, are permeated by complex, urgent questions without clear-cut answers [6, 8]. Be it related to climate change, inequity, identity, or else; our world and our own lives are constantly at stake, and as Ingold  formulates it so well: ‘‘to inhabit the world [….] is to join in the processes of formation’’ (p. 5-6). To approach a student only as ‘someone who has to be prepared for the world’ is to deny the life the student already is living in it and simultaneously denies society promising conversational partners in taking on the challenges we face.
Building forth, it is important to recognize the mindset of participation and to explore how such a mindset might reasonably be part of an educational vision. Notably, this does not entail a plea against the mindset of preparation. Rather, the two may be seen as interrelated  and they may complement each other (i.e. both-prepare-and-participate).
An important reason for Arendt  to plea for reserving the mindset of participation for the political realm is to avoid that through education the freedom is taken away from new generations to renew our common world in their own way. For Arendt, this is crucial, as she argues that given our own mortal nature it is exactly this renewal on which the conservation of our world depends. Taking this point seriously, the insight emerges that an educational process in which the mindset of participation is embraced needs to be open, acknowledging and nurturing ‘the unknown new’of the future. Simultaneously, it is important to realize that education is not amoral, not without pedagogical intention [2, 3], and that in an educational context the mindset of participation needs to embody intentionality. The research question that thus emerges is: How might a mindset of participation be part of educational vision in such a way that simultaneously embodies a clear pedagogical intention and keeps the educational process open?
This research is grounded in a hermeneutical approach – emphasizing interaction and interpretation – that can be seen as complementary to an empirical approach emphasizing objective measurement [10, 11]. The ultimate concern is with specific, unique educational situations and the quest of finding meaning and acting well herein. The aim of this research is to articulate heuristic perspectives that serve as a narrative that can ‘help’. It is important to realize that this ‘help’ is not the kind in which certain general, empirically based regularities can be applied to specific situations, as a tool, but the kind in which a certain awareness enables interpretation in unique, specific situations and accordingly enhances the ability to (re)act effectively. The process of articulating such heuristic perspectives is deeply reflective [13, 14]. In this, several quality criteria can be identified. Articulated perspectives should be both reasonable – grounded in sound argumentation and utilizing existing theoretical frameworks –, and useful – grounded in educational practice. Furthermore, it is important to be transparent and integer [12, 15], by openly sharing nodal moments in the theorizing process and explicating the axiology inherent in the research, in this case: the mindset of participation. Building forth, the research process is designed based on two complementary, interacting components: (1) literature study, with a focus on educational intentionality [1, 8, 16] and complexity thinking [8, 9, 12, 17, 18], and (2) critical autobiographical research  concerning the first authors participation in founding De Bildung Academie and hosting its semester-program for university students, as offered four times between September 2015 and June 2017. In particular, two full-time educational modules of six weeks – Identity and Energy – that were part of the semester-program are taken as exemplary cases for in-depth reflection. In the Identity-module the existential question ‘who am I in this world?’ is central, in the latter so is the case for personal and societal questions revolving around the transition toward renewable energy sources. The educational programs of De Bildung Academie are experimental in nature and are explicitly developed with a mindset of participation . Taking the quality criteria into account, heuristic perspectives are formulated through mingling two writing styles, being (1) a narrative writing style, portraying nodal moments in the first author’ participation in De Bildung Academie and reflection hereon, and (2) an argumentative writing style, utilizing academic literature, and bringing this in conversation with elements of the narrative text.
From the perspective of a mindset of participation, an I-We-Planet-Orientation can serve to provide meaning and intentionality to the educational process. This entails to be attuned to the well-being and thriving of life on earth in a holistic sense, seeking, as Biesta  formulates it (p. 14), ‘‘to do justice to all partners involved.’’ Wahl  specifies this into three interwoven categories, that may serve as a heuristic, being ‘I’ (individual human beings), ‘We’ (human collectives, local and global), and ‘Planet’ (ecosystems, and the myriad life-forms herein, local and global). Inquiry into the modules Identity and Energy of De Bildung Academie, illustrates how indeed ‘I’, ‘We’, and ‘Planet’ are interwoven when such life-oriented questions as those related to identity and ecological sustainability are central. In light of the articulated need for an open educational process, it stands out that De Bildung Academie organizes it’s curricula based on complex questions and puts emphasis on processes of exploration, reflection, and creation. Building forth, Wahl’s articulation of the heuristic perspective of living the questions  shows promise. An I-We-Planet-Orientation understood as a question to live ultimately reads somewhat like: How to live together on planet Earth? It is in this mode then, in an open mode of living the questions (rather than a closed mode of knowing the answers) that we may imagine making the ongoing process of shaping our common world, and ourselves herein, consciously part of the educational process. Building forth, the formulation of an I-We-Planet-Orientation as a living question entails an embrace of complexity, of the process of participation as open-ended, multi-voiced, dynamic, interwoven, nested, and nonlinear [8, 9, 12, 17, 18]. As a heuristic perspective, this opens up myriad interrelated subsequent questions – e.g. with respect to curricula and teacher-student-relationship – that encourage integral educational reflection.
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