Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    On democratic schooling: an analysis of developments in Victoria
    Beckett, David (1950-) ( 1990)
    This is a thesis in philosophy of education. There are many points of contact between philosophy and, education, and there are bodies of intellectual enquiry in the English-speaking analytic tradition of philosophy which are centrally concerned with issues clustering around teaching and learning, the formal provision of these in schooling and society in general, and more generally, the nature of knowledge, truth, justice, identity and reality insofar as these are part of educative processes and outcomes. Traditions of philosophical enquiry which have engaged with these issues in influential ways have become philosophies of education in their own right, and have contributed to, and informed, continuing debates over the provision and practice of schooling in western societies which are themselves democratic in political outlook, and capitalist in economic activity. Indeed, it can be shown that these two aspects of western societies have symbiotically influenced philosophical enquiry in general and deliberations on education in particular. Relatively discrete philosophies of education, it would seem, can then be fairly regarded as products, as much as ingredients, of the intellectual and material life of a society. Bearing all this in mind, then, any substantial philosophical enterprise centering on education and related issues must take into account the contextuality of that enterprise itself, as much as it recognises and deals with the contextuality of other philosophical contributions to the issues under consideration. This thesis has schooling provision, policy and practice in the Australian state of Victoria as its material context. The intellectual context is provided by a consideration of the central concepts, "democracy" "education" and "schooling", as these have evolved since the seventeenth century, in English-speaking capitalist democracies. Chapter One is concerned with this, and ends with a plan for the rest of the thesis. In brief, Chapters Two, Three and Four argue for an emergent theory and practice of democratic schooling. This is taken to be an extension of liberal education, which is itself in some tension with the closely related notion of the provision of schooling in a liberal democracy. A more effective democracy, it is argued, will result if at least the type of schooling it provides and encourages breaks with excessively individualistic and inequitable "marketplace" models of curriculum, achievement and resourcing. Democratic schooling, by contrast, will seek co-operative participation, more inclusive teaching and learning strategies, and, most important, a recognition and fostering of the diversity present in the members of a western society in the late twentieth century. Accordingly, all three are present in each of "cultural formation", "educational' autonomy" and "social justice", which are argued for in detail as the cornerstones of democratic schooling. In Chapter Five, these, and the considerations of Chapter One, are drawn together, and suggestions are made about the future: there is much to be learned from current feminist thinking on democracy and education.