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ERIC Number: EJ1200859
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Interpretation and Student Agency
Nikolaidis, A. C.
Philosophical Studies in Education, v49 p34-46 2018
An important and yet unresolved question has concerned the educational community for generations: what is the role of student agency and how do educators take it into account? Traditionalists claim that students are incapable of true agency, not knowing where their interests lie yet, while progressivists argue that the students are the most qualified to know their own interests and that educational providers are the ones incapable of knowing what is good for and in the interest of the students. The Deweyan position maintains that when we are thinking of the child and the curriculum as separate, we falsely declare the two entities to be incommensurable, which then forces us to choose which one we value more and to place all the emphasis on that one. In reality, though, the child and the curriculum are two interlinked aspects of the same process--education. In Dewey's reconciliation between child and curriculum lies the answer to the question about the role of student agency in education. The author believes that Dewey's emphasis on the role of interpretation deserves closer consideration as it provides a means for preserving student agency. The article begins by discussing the philosophical underpinnings of agency and the peculiarities of student agency specifically. Then, the author applies these on a Deweyan framework for interpretation and explains how this framework constitutes a valid approach for fostering student agency. Finally, two possible ways of improving interpretive practices are presented in an effort to demonstrate the framework's applicability. The purpose of this article is to clarify the importance of interpretation when it comes to education and specifically explain why it is the only means for actualizing student agency. This country's educational system was built on the principles of creating free, responsible citizens, capable of making informed and rational decisions, and this involves nurturing rather than stultifying their agency from an early age. Constant imposition or unlimited and unguided freedom are not effective solutions.
Descriptors: Personal Autonomy, Student Interests, Educational Philosophy, Guidelines, Decision Making, Freedom, Teacher Role
Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society. Web site: http://ovpes.org/?page_id=51
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A