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

By David Bridges | Go to book overview

22

REDESIGNING INSTRUCTION TO CREATE AUTONOMOUS LEARNERS AND THINKERS

John Arul Phillips
This chapter starts from observations about the changing character of society around the Pacific Rim and in particular in south and east Asia. It observes the shift from an essentially agrarian to a manufacturing and information-oriented society in which the workplace, the marketplace and the home have become increasingly complex organisations and the parallel shift from essentially autocratic to increasingly democratic governments requiring a higher level of participation of their citizens. Schools have however failed to keep up with the implications of these changes. They have not yet taken seriously the obligation on educational institutions in a democratic society to cultivate both the attitudes and skills required of a self-determining and questioning citizenry which can choose those who will govern, hold government to account and itself participate in the process of government. Schools continue to be preoccupied with teaching curriculum content rather than the critical processes which enable children to think for themselves in a society which is less predictable, rapidly changing and increasingly complex. This chapter will:
• discuss the importance of teaching the process of learning and its goal in creating autonomous learners and critical thinkers;
• propose ideas for the incorporation of those skills associated with critical, and creative thinking in the curriculum, while taking into consideration the examination orientated system of education in the Pacific Rim; and
• discuss possible strategies for the implementation of these ideas in the classroom and the role of teachers, textbook writers, evaluators, curriculum developers and administrators in their application.

The chapter is written from a perspective in the Asia Pacific region, but the issues are global. Indeed some of the oldest democracies as well as some of the newer ones might benefit from more vigilant attention to the foundations of critical and creative thinking in the school curriculum.

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