Political Education and Social Reconstructionism: Contextualizing the Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo

By White, Stephen R. | International Education, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

Political Education and Social Reconstructionism: Contextualizing the Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo


White, Stephen R., International Education


SriAurobindo has come to announce to the world the beauty of the future that will be realized. He has come to bring not a hope but the certainty of the splendor towards which the world is moving. The world is not an unfortunate accident: it is a miracle moving towards its expression (Vrekhem, 1997).

Mirra Alfassa

The consciousness of each of us is evolution reflecting upon itself... Evolutionary trends and patterns suggest a further possibility the emergence of something beyond a single planetary consciousness: a completely new level of evolution as different from consciousness as consciousness is from life, and life is from matter...The whole of life lies in the verb "seeing" (Teilhard, 1999)

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

French Scientist and Philosopher

THE RESEARCH ISSUE: EDUCATION IN OUR AGE OF GLOBALIZATION

The modernist era of world history has been defined as the age of internationalism. Conversely, globalization is an academic concept that is used to define postmodern world history. Globalization is theoretically framed from varied perspectives. Most specifically it is analyzed as political, social, and economic phenomena but also within the domains of humanities and philosophy (Anderson, 1989; Baylis & Smith, 2001; Beck, 1999; Berger & Hunnington, 2002; Freidman, 2000; Held & McGrew, 2002; Held, McGrew, Goldblatt & Perraton, 1999; Lithman, 2003; Peterson, Dean, Wunder & Mullet, 1999; Steger, 2001; Viotte & Viotte, 1998). The sociological perspectives have created the dominate context for intellectual debate regarding the issue (Bigelow & Peterson, 2002; Bloom, 2000; Bhagtwati, 2004; Diaz & Kanthopolous, 1999; Foer, 2004; Freidman, 2000; Fukuyama, 1993; Hunnington, 1998; Levin, 2001; Stiglitz, 2002).

Similarly these interdisciplinary perspectives have dominated educators' theoretical disposition and practices regarding globalization. Nicholas C. Burbles and Carlos Alberto Torres (2000) broadly explored how globalization is influencing educational policies and practices. Their conclusion is that global political, social, and economic dynamics are having a significant influence on educational praxis, world-wide. They summarize: "While this [our research] is primarily a work of theory, these discussions contain specific and concrete implications for how education is changing, and how we will need to change, in response to new [global] circumstances" (p. 2).

Nelly Stromquist (2002) argued that globalization is a convoluted issue to examine because it is an intensely complex interdisciplinary sociological phenomenon. Accordingly, the meaning of globalization varies depending on the perspective being pursued. Globalization can be described from neoconservative, neoliberal, or radical political perspectives while focusing on issues as diverse as cultural differentiation, social divergence, worldwide homogenization, international hetrogenization, or disputes between local needs versus international interests.

Her position is that educators are faced with a most difficult task in meeting adequately the demands of unfolding globalization. This demand will require the development of innovative curricula designed for the socialization of learners into a new global reality (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000).

Today, more than ever, there is a need to ask education for what will prevail in globalization? Will it only be to make us more productive and increase our ability to produce and consume or will it be able to instill in all of us a democratic spirit with values of solidarity? This solidarity will have to recognize the different interests among men and women and amongst the dominant groups and disadvantaged groups, (pp. 21-22)

Stromquist's humanistic concerns regarding global solidarity raise many serious challenges for educators to ponder. One such challenge is whether we can philosophically expound upon how globalization is affecting our postmodern era of existentialism. …

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