Suppressing education

Since Plato established philosophical education at the core of the project for the just city, philosophy and education in universities have become separated. Try finding an undergraduate degree in Education that is not a teacher training course (perhaps one example might be Liberal Arts programmes?) By not being taken seriously as a subject in its own right, education has to all intents and purposes been denied its own voice. Particularly within the academic subject disciplines, education has been judged fit only to be the hand-servant of the superior disciplines. They prejudge education as having nothing to say about itself and certainly as having no meaningful contribution to make to proper academic work.

The demise of the voice of education illustrates just how great the gap has become between the sophistication of the modern city and Socrates’s and Plato’s conceptions of philosophy as the love of learning and the living of the examined life. There is a fault line dividing the examined life from itself. On the one hand, in the modern Academy there is examination without life, and on the other hand, in the city, there is life without examination. Who might education say has been its champion since Socrates and then Plato dared to be the voice of education that speaks of itself as the ground of justice in the world? Education might lovingly point to Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In full exposure of his own personal limitations and contradictions, he offered a vision of the just city based on educational social and political relations. He not only produced a comprehensive account of the origin of social inequality, revealing the institution of property as the key to injustice. He also saw that education―and most definitely not education as schooling―was the precondition to a new just city. But, of course, education also now recognizes that back then, the voice of this champion was white and male and at times deeply patronizing. Today the educational voice, such as it is, works for a different vision of inclusivity.

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