01 SES 16 A, U-turn on the Highway to Hell? Education and Professional Development for Sustainability as Praxis
The world faces catastrophic global warming. The world is on a highway to hell, and this paper asks whether (and how) we can still make a U-turn. As we elaborate below, we argue we can do this if (1.) education is understood primarily as initiation into practices instead of initiation into knowledge and (2.) if, in order to change social practices, we pay attention to the arrangements, or practice architectures, which prefigure our practices. This requires changing the practices of teachers’ professional development accordingly. (1.) Traditionally, education has been understood as an initiation into forms of knowledges (e.g. Peters 1966), but mere knowledge about ecocrisis does not save humankind. Rather than abandoning the idea of teaching knowledge, however, we want to see knowledge in its context of use. All ‘knowledge’ arises from, recalls, anticipates, and returns to its use in practices (Kemmis, Wilkinson, Edwards-Groves, Hardy, Grootenboer and Bristol 2014, p.58; see also Kemmis and Edwards-Groves, 2018, p.116) which means that education is primarily an initiation into practices. This view is also supported by the writings of philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein (1957), Alasdair MacIntyre (1983) and Charles Taylor (1971), Paul Smeyers and Nicholas Burbules (2006). Sustainable change requires that we do things differently, rather than just know about things. (2.) The only way to avoid the ecocatastrophe is to change the ways we live our lives on this planet; that is, to change our practices. But how to change practices? Our proposal is that we have to simultaneously work with the arrangements (or practice architectures) which prefigure (enable and constrain) our prevailing practices (Kemmis & Grootenboer 2008; Kemmis et al. 2014). These practice architectures consist of (a.) material and economic arrangements which hold the practices in place (buildings, roads, restaurants etc.) (b.) cultural and discursive arrangements (words, symbols, verbal and nonverbal expressions) which enable our understandings and (c.) social-political arrangements (power, solidarity, loyalty etc.) which prefigure our relations to others and the world we share. To make a difference, all these practice architectures have to be taken into account simultaneously. We argue that to make all this happen, the practices of teacher development have to be changed with these principles in mind. We must understand how learners are initiated into practices not only through words and books but also through making things in a different way in our everyday lives.
Kemmis, S. and Grootenboer, P. (2008) Situating praxis in practice: Practice architectures and the cultural, social and material conditions for practice. In S. Kemmis & T. J. Smith (Eds.), Enabling praxis: Challenges for education (pp. 37–62). Rotterdam: Sense Kemmis, S. and Edwards-Groves, C. (2018). Understanding Education: History, politics and practice. Singapore: Springer. Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P. and Bristol, L. (2014). Changing Practices, Changing Education. Singapore: Springer Peters 1966 MacIntyre, A. (1983). After Virtue: A study in moral theory. London: Duckworth Ludwig Wittgenstein (1957), Peters, R.S. (1966) Ethics and Education. London: Allen and Unwin. Charles Taylor (1971), Smeyers, P. and Burbules, N. (2006). Education as initiation into practices, Educational Theory, 56(4), 439-449. Wittgenstein, L. (1957). Philosophical Investigations (3rd ed.) (G.E.M. Anscombe, trans.). New York: Macmillan.
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