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ERIC Number: EJ960323
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0160-7561
Trudge toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in Education
Ayers, William
Philosophical Studies in Education, v42 p17-24 2011
In this article, William Ayers constructs his Phil Smith Lecture as a call to action. Grounded in democratic principles of equality and social justice, the author invokes a liberal conception of human worth and the universal right to educational opportunity. The author critiques the passivity of the American polity in the face of Barack Obama's election and subsequent educational policies. The speech begins by quoting from Bertolt Brecht's poem "Motto," which asks, "In [the] dark times will there also be singing" and answers, "Yes, there will be singing. /About the dark times." Ayers lists examples of the contemporary dark times: climate changes, Tea Party triumphalism, the privatization of the public space, Smithsonian's bowing to anti-intellectualism and art phobia. But, says Ayers, there is much singing in these dark times too, such as those of the mothers at Whittier School in Chicago seizing a field house and demanding a library for their children; the Cochabamba and Cancun gatherings, and the seizing of global environmental leadership from the powerful elites by the marginalized; and Wikileaks and especially Bradley Manning, "the soldier locked in a military dungeon for the crime of truth-telling." Ayers maintains that resisting the war culture and the degrading of democracy is a way to sing the dark times, too. In these and other examples, Ayers references historical symbols of resistance in the face of tyranny and issues a call to mobilization with the goal of realizing democratic ideals in the broader society and education specifically. He argues that we should focus our efforts not on the production of things so much as on the production of fully developed human beings who are capable of controlling and transforming their own lives, citizens who can participate fully in our shared public life. As such, it is argued herein that educators, students, and citizens should demand an education worthy of a democracy. This includes an end to sorting people into winners and losers through expensive standardized tests which act as pseudo-scientific forms of surveillance; an end to starving schools of needed resources and then blaming teachers and their unions for dismal outcomes; and an end to "savage inequalities" and the rapidly accumulating "educational debt," the resources due to communities historically segregated, under-funded and under-served. The responsibility for enacting a democratic society lies with each one of us, he asserts. He further asserts that "in saying goodbye to complacency in a heartless world, to deference, didacticism, ego and the need to always be right," Ayers underscores that activism is not merely verbal and scholarly. It is fundamentally to take action.
Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society. Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A