Education, Autonomy, and Democratic Citizenship: Philosophy in a Changing World

By David Bridges | Go to book overview

21

AUTONOMY AND EDUCATION

An integrated approach to knowledge, curriculum and learning in the democratic school

David Aspin

INTRODUCTION

Amongst the prime prerequisites for the effective functioning of modern democratic states, four are crucially related to education. These are: (1) that citizens should be able to sustain their own existence and that of the state; (2) that citizens should be able to participate in its institutions and contribute to the direction of its affairs; (3) that citizens should ensure that the social goods of life in the democratic state are extended to all its citizens; and (4) that citizens should be free to use those social goods to choose and construct a satisfying quality of life. To be prepared for all of these endeavours citizens will need to be given access to a high quality and empowering education that will equip them for the obligations, choices and decisions they will be called upon to make. The notions of the personal autonomy and democratic involvement of citizens in a democracy are crucial here: without either of them democracy could not be sustained or flourish and individuals could not work out patterns of preferred life-options for themselves in it. Both presuppose a high quality education for democracy, attained through an integrated approach to knowledge, curriculum and learning, in a democratically structured and managed school and school system.


EDUCATION, KNOWLEDGE AND THE CURRICULUM: A CRITIQUE OF SOME CURRENT CURRICULUM PHILOSOPHIES

Significant differences subsist between countries and educational systems in their approach to the design and implementation of curriculum as part of their educational reform efforts.

Recent reform efforts in some countries suggest that education is seen primarily in instrumental terms—valuable only insofar as it leads to ends of economic efficiency and effectiveness. For many governments education has

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