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ERIC Number: EJ834798
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Feb
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 34
ISSN: ISSN-0309-8249
Children in Public or "Public Children": An Alternative to Constructing One's Own Life
Vansieleghem, Nancy
Journal of Philosophy of Education, v43 n1 p101-118 Feb 2009
This article arises from the thoughts of Hannah Arendt, and more especially from her idea that the essence of education is the renewal of the world. That idea forms the backdrop to a consideration of the current interest in education as the construction of one's own life. I argue that the will to construct one's own life is not a natural, biological given, but a product of a "biopolitical machine". In the first part of the article I challenge the contemporary discourse of self-empowerment and expose the way that the will to construct one's own life, in its current manifestation, is an effect and an instrument of a (strategic) configuration that includes the construction of one's own life as a matter of public concern. Ironically, the foregrounding of "public concern" in this way undermines a more meaningful realisation of the public realm. I see this, however, not primarily as a problem, but as an invitation to think again. In the second part I argue that what the "biopolitical machine" has shown is precisely that thinking of childhood in terms of a becoming and a "not yet" does not capture the essence of human being. Instead it should be conceived as a singular, historical experience emerging within a particular historical context. What this reveals is an opening onto a possibility of acting and thinking differently. I conclude with an alternative idea of education, one that is inspired by Arendt. However, this is not intended as a utopian turn, but rather as a means of exposing a dimension of education that has remained silenced or even largely excluded: a dimension that is an invitation to think and to put our thoughts at stake, which is something altogether different from utopia.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A