What is a radical approach to education? – Professor Saville Kushner

7th May 2019, 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Faculty of Education

We have been persuaded in recent years that education is not ideological – that its solutions are technical/rational. Algorithms rule – our challenges are muted. And with a focus on teaching and learning technologies, our attention has been led away from curriculum – the place where the ethics and the politics of knowledge are contested and resolved.

We have, this is to say, been co-opted into a right-wing agenda. Under the circumstances, we are entitled to ask, what is a left-wing educational alternative?

Perhaps we might answer saying a left-wing alternative would be concerned with children’s rights, with democracy in the classroom, the elimination of competition and the reversal of the command-and-control culture of schooling – an end to schooling as ‘cultural reproduction’. Socialist principles of collectivism and equality would underpin the legitimacy of curriculum.

So we return to ideology – a contest between cherished ideals.

Both right- and left-wing ideologies are useful in helping us align our values to our actions – political divisions are healthy for democracy. But for our purposes as educators, each is vulnerable to its own orthodoxy and so neither is a guarantee of radicalism, of holding the status quo as nothing more than provisional. We define educational radicalism as the personalisation of knowledge, informed self-determination, local definition of quality and an essential unpredictability of educational outcomes.

In this multi-media presentation with music and pictures, Saville will return to the curriculum debates led by John Dewey, Joseph Schwab, Lawrence Stenhouse and A.S.Neill in order to rediscover a radical agenda for today’s education. Central to his analysis will be a return to Renaissance Humanism.

Professor Kushner joined Edge Hill University in 2018 as Professor of Higher Education after roles with the Universities of East Anglia, West of England, and Auckland, also serving in Latin America and the Caribbean for UNICEF. He has written numerous books and articles on democracy and how we value public work, insisting it is democratically healthy and constructive to argue and challenge political or cultural assertions, feeling we can only make judgements by weighing up alternative arguments.

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Lecture 6pm

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