Obstinate Education

Reconnecting School and Society

Author: Gert Biesta
What should the relationship between school and society be? Obstinate Education: Reconnecting School and Society argues that education is not just there to give individuals, groups and societies what they want from it, but that education has a duty to resist. Education needs to be obstinate, not for the sake of being difficult, but in order to make sure that it can contribute to emancipation and democratisation. This requires that education always brings in the question whether what is desired from it is going to help with living life well, individually and collectively, on a planet that has a limited capacity for giving everything that is desired from it.

This book argues that education should not just be responsive but should keep its own responsibility; should not just focus on empowerment but also on emancipation; and, through this, should help students to become ‘world-wise.’ It argues that critical thinking and classroom philosophy should retain a political orientation and not be reduced to useful thinking skills, and shows the importance of hesitation in educational relationships. This text makes a strong case for the connection between education and democracy, both in the context of schools, colleges and universities and in the work of public pedagogy.

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Gert Biesta, PhD (1992), Leiden University, is Professor of Public Education at Maynooth University, Ireland and Professor for Education at the University of Humanistic Studies, the Netherlands. He writes about educational theory and policy and the philosophy of social research.
Note on the Author

Introduction: The Duty to Resist
1 Responsive or Responsible? Democratic Education for the Global Networked Society
 The Global Networked Society: Fact or Fiction?
 Education for the Global Networked Society: Responsive or Responsible?
 Democratic Education for the Global Networked Society?

2 How General Can Bildung Be? Reflections on the Future of a Modern Educational Ideal
 A Brief History of Bildung
 Bildung Lost, Bildung Regained
 How General Can Bildung Be?
 The Epistemological Interpretation: The General as the Universal
 The Interpretation from the Sociology of Knowledge: The General as a Social Construction
 A Critical Theory of Bildung and Critical Pedagogy
 The Network Approach: The General as the Asymmetrical Expansion of the Local
 Concluding Remarks

3 Becoming World-Wise: An Educational Perspective on the Rhetorical Curriculum
 Education, Paideia and Bildung
 Becoming ‘Symbol-Wise’ or Becoming ‘World-Wise’?
 Empowerment or Emancipation?
 The Challenge

4 Critical Thinking and the Question of Critique: Some Lessons from Deconstruction
 Philosophy, Critique, and Modern Education
 Critical Thinking and the Question of Critique
 Critical Dogmatism
 Transcendental Critique
 From Critique to Deconstruction

5 Philosophy, Exposure, and Children: How to Resist the Instrumentalisation of Philosophy in Education
 What Might Philosophy Achieve?
 Philosophical Enquiry or Scientific Enquiry?
 A Performative Contradiction
 The Trouble with Humanism, Particularly in Education
 A Post-Humanist Theory of Education: Action, Uniqueness and Exposure
 Conclusion: A Different Philosophy for Different Children

6 No Education without Hesitation: Exploring the Limits of Educational Relations
 The Multiple Meanings of ‘Education’
 ‘Mind the Gap!’
 ‘Being Addressed’
 ‘You Must Change Your Life’
 Concluding Remarks

7 Transclusion: Overcoming the Tension between Inclusion and Exclusion in the Discourse on Democracy and Democratisation
 Inclusion and Democracy
 Making Democracy More Inclusive: The Deliberative Turn
 Entry Conditions and Democratic Exclusions
 Overcoming Internal Exclusion: Making Democracy More Welcoming
 Can Democracy Reach as State of Total Inclusions? And Should It?
 From Democracy to Democratisation
 Discussion: Marking the Difference between Inclusion and Transclusion

8 Education and Democracy Revisited: Dewey’s Democratic Deficit
 Connecting Democracy and Education: The Moral Argument
 Education as Bildung
 From the Ethics of Democracy to Democracy and Education
 A Democratic Deficit?
 From Absolutism to Experimentalism
 Overcoming the ‘Crisis in Culture’
 Concluding Comments: The Missing Link Revisited

9 Making Pedagogy Public: For the Public, of the Public, or in the Interest of Publicness?
 The Decline of the Public Sphere
 Arendt on Action, Plurality, and Freedom
 “The Space Where Freedom Can Appear”
 For the Public, of the Public, or in the Interest of Publicness?

Conclusion: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Appendix: From Experimentalism to Existentialism: Writing in the Margins of Philosophy of Education
For students, teachers and scholars who believe that education should not give up its orientation on emancipation and should not lose its connection with the project of democracy.