04 SES 13 E, Inclusive Perspectives on the ‘Post-Refugee-Discourse’ in Education
How are educators to respond to the refugee crisis? The way we answer this questions turns precisely on the way we understand what it means to be an educator and a refugee, along with what it means to live in the midst of a crisis. A crisis, Arendt (1993) notes, need not become a disaster. If, as Arendt (1993, p. 174) observes, every ‘crisis forces us back to the questions themselves’, then the crisis of mass displacement requires educators to return anew to the question of what demands our most serious concern in education. Arendt is adamant that ‘the essence of education is natality, the fact that human beings are born into the world’ (original emphasis, 1993, p. 174). What prompts this return to the question of education’s essence in relation to the refugee crisis is the fact that uprooted and displaced young people are newcomers, not in one but in two senses. These children are new to the world and new to the condition of displacement. Divided into two sections, this paper examines the implications of thinking about the education of displaced children as an activity that aims at the realisation of their newness within the world. In the first part of the paper, the difficulty of responding to the newness of displaced children is set within the context of Arendt’s (1976) recognition of the condition of statelessness as the deprivation not of certain rights but of the very possibility of having rights. The second section of the paper examines Arendt’s account of the assimilation of German Jews has they sort refuge from the Nazis. In contradistinction to such assimilation, and the loneliness it creates within individuals, there is the thinking process, the mental activity that, as Arendt (1971) understood, involves a ‘withdrawal’ from the world. Contained within Arendt’s insights, this paper will argue, there are profound insights into the type of schooling that might allow displaced children the time and space to be with themselves in a thinking dialogue that might lead them to enroot themselves in the world.
Arendt, H. 1971. The life of the mind: Thinking. London, Harcourt. Arendt, H. 1976. The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Arendt, H. 1993. The crisis in education. In Between past and future: Eight exercises in political thought, 173-196. New York, The Viking Press
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