An Exploration of Education for Self-Governance.
A free and flourishing society requires citizens who embody certain attitudes and habits conducive to freedom, initiative, and responsibility. As Aristotle argued, however, such virtues cannot be acquired by passively listening to lectures. They must be acquired through practice. What is the philosophical foundation for fostering environments that enable, not just an acquaintance with ideas, but the development of character towards self-regulation and self-governance?
As part of my Master’s studies I designed a course to explore educational paradigms that encourage students to become citizens that are active in a community, cooperating, exchanging, and sympathizing with others, and using their own judgement. The themes included: education and its democratic purpose, philosophies of education, self-regulated learning, & education for self-governance. The readings included:
- John Dewey. Democracy and Education: an Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. Alpha Editions, 2018
- Paulo Freire. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Herder and Herder, 1970.
- David Bruce Tyack. The One Best System: a History of American Urban Education. 1975.
- Paulo Freire. Pedagogy of Freedom. Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage. Rowman & Littlefield, 1998.
- Amy Gutman. Democratic Education. Princeton University Press, 1999.
- Gert J.J. Biesta. Learning Democracy in School and Society: Education, Lifelong Learning, and the Politics of Citizenship. Sense Publishing, 2011.
- Stephen Vassallo. Self-Regulated Learning: an Application of Critical Educational Psychology. Peter Lang, 2013.
- Emily Chamlee-Wright. Liberal Learning and the Art of Self-Governance. Routledge, 2015.
- Gert J.J. Biesta. Beyond Learning: Democratic Education for a Human Future. Routledge, 2016.
“How can we speak of Democracy or Freedom when from the very beginning of life we mould the child to undergo tyranny, to obey a dictator? How can we expect democracy when we have reared slaves? Real freedom begins at the beginning of life, not at the adult stage. These people who have been diminished in their powers, made short-sighted, devitalized by mental fatigue, whose bodies have become distorted, whose wills have been broken by elders who say: ‘your will must disappear and mine prevail!’—how can we expect them, when school-life is finished, to accept and use the rights of freedom?”–Maria Montessori, Education for a New World
“One cannot doubt that in the United States the instruction of the people serves powerfully to maintain a democratic republic. It will be so, I think, everywhere that the instruction that enlightens the mind is not separated from the education that regulates mores. Still, I do not exaggerate this advantage and I am still further from believing, as do a great number of people in Europe, that it suffices to teach men to read and to write to make them citizens immediately. Genuine enlightenment arises principally from experience, and if one had not habituated the Americans little by little to govern themselves, the literary knowledge that they possess would not greatly help them today to succeed in it.”–Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
“Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light by which men can only be made free.”–Frederick Douglass, Blessings of Liberty and Education. Speech. 1894.