Social criticism and educational practices – An “outsider’s” perspective

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
The author’s personal experience of Ethiopia’s educational system as both an educator and an educatee during and following Haile Selassie’s reign is described in chapter 1. The author forwards a central argument that, whether they are aware of it or not, educators are essentially social critics and they ought to do social criticism in every educational setting; thus the equation, social critic ≈ educator. In order to stage the arguments, three concepts the author considers central to both social criticism and education are offered: hope, myth and the state. The importance of hope in this assumed connection between education and social criticism or between educator and social critic is anchored by hope’s constant presence the hope that education as well social criticism will result in some form of change. Myth is involved at the point when stated hopes are justified and rationalized. The author explains the importance of understanding the distinctions Cassirer makes between “constructed” myths and “genuine” myths. To illustrate the interplay between hope and myth from an educational perspective, the author discusses the boundaries that are usually drawn by social institutes, arguing that the state is a social institution. Chapter 2 sets the groundwork for the author’s contention that educators ought to be social critics. The next chapter outlines in detail what social criticism is and what the critic’s roles are. Chapter 4 offers an existential understanding of what criticism is as well as alternative insights regarding the roles of the social critic/educator. The fifth chapter uses the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a platform to examine and chart the progress of three basic hopes that commonly support institutionalized educational systems. The transformation of education within the broader understanding of the notions of deschooling and the demythologizing of myths is revisited in Chapter 6. The author then concludes that educators have to embrace the role of social critics to be better educators and that, to properly embrace the role of being social critic, educators need to reconsider and reconfigure what is considered local and what is global.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Blenkinsop, Sean
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