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ERIC Number: EJ870749
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 68
ISSN: ISSN-0305-4985
Where's the Vision? The Concept of Utopia in Contemporary Educational Theory
Webb, Darren
Oxford Review of Education, v35 n6 p743-760 Dec 2009
This paper explores the way in which the concept of utopia is employed within contemporary educational theory. Confronted with the relentless marketisation and managerialisation of education, there is a growing willingness to embrace utopianism as a means of bolstering hope, opening up new possibilities and catalysing change. At the same time, there is a concern to avoid utopianism's more fanciful and coercive associations. The paper focuses on two approaches to education that seek to harness the spirit of utopia while emphasising the need for realism and the need to avoid proffering "closed" and "totalistic" blueprints. These are the "utopian realist" approach to policy issues and the "concrete utopian" approach to pedagogy. The paper explores the different understandings of "utopia" underpinning these approaches. It also argues that they suffer the same fundamental weakness. For in striving to avoid the "bad" aspects of utopianism, much of the vitality and direction that a utopian approach can offer is lost. Utopianism is on the agenda in education because of widespread frustration and anger at current policy initiatives. If utopia is to operate as a means of opening up possibilities and catalysing change, then a prescriptive totalising vision, with all its associated dangers, may be necessary.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A