The current issue of In Factis Pax includes an article by Betty A. Reardon and Dale Snauwaert on the nature of a pedagogy of reflective inquiry as central to a critical peace education that is cosmopolitan and democratic and the second installment of a special issue on Skills, Values, and Beliefs for Today’s Democratic Citizenship. This second installment focuses on the “Philosophical and Theoretical Foundations of Democratic Education.” This issue explores the question of democratic citizenship from broad philosophical and social perspectives.
A vital aspect of democracy is the ability of individual citizens to engage in knowledge creation and evaluation in a critical manner. In today’s controversy – and information-rich society developing one’s own beliefs and values, evaluating a constantly growing body of new knowledge, and having an understanding of current politics is becoming an increasingly complex and demanding challenge. In this context, education for citizenship is an important undertaking to provide individuals with skills, values, knowledge, and beliefs needed to successfully participate in democratic processes and to foster a culture of active civic engagement.
Under this conceptual umbrella, a call for contributions to a special issue went out to the fields of peace and democratic education seeking manuscripts from educators, practitioners, and researchers to explore questions, such as: What is the nature of the skills, values, and beliefs necessary for democratic participation, and in what situations do they occur and matter? What role does (citizenship) education play in addressing such skills, values, knowledge, and beliefs? What pedagogical methods best develop these democratic capacities? Do current educational frameworks account for the demands of today’s democratic citizenship?
The following articles comprise this issue:
Reflective Pedagogy, Cosmopolitanism, and Critical Peace Education for Political Efficacy: A Discussion of Betty A. Reardon’s Assessment of the Field By Betty A. Reardon and Dale T. Snauwaert
In a recent publication entitled ”Concerns, Cautions and Possibilities for Peace Education for Political Efficacy”, Betty Reardon reflects on the state of peace education and offers a brilliant reaffirmation and further elaboration of the central importance and nature of a pedagogy of reflective inquiry for a comprehensive/critical peace education. Betty Reardon is an internationally renowned peace scholar and peace educator. She has been instrumental in the establishment of peace education institutions and programs around the world. Her work has defined the fields of peace studies and peace education. The purpose of this paper is to discuss her recent assessment and elaboration. In particular, the connection between cosmopolitanism and reflective pedagogy will be explored in greater detail, in addition to the posing of further questions for inquiry related to the relationship between dialogue, conceptual clarity, philosophical frameworks, diversity and reflective pedagogy.
In Learning to Trust Our Teachers Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon and Scott Ellison argue, based upon the political philosophy of Jacques Rancière, that teachers can be trusted and treated as professionals, and that Americans examine their lack of trust for teachers in the U.S. They argue for a of model democracy in schools that will produce liberated democratic citizens. They maintain that “It is through teachers trusting that students want to learn that students are emancipated and obliged to use their own intelligence, rather than stultified by their teachers. It is through administrators, legislators, and citizens trusting that teachers want to be the best teachers they can be, and are capable of being intelligent, ethical professionals, that teachers are emancipated too. Modeling democracy in our schools means learning to trust our teachers and our students.” For this essay our attention will be on teachers.
In her article Democratic Citizenship, Critical Multiculturalism, and the Case of Muslims Since September 11, Liz Jackson maintains that at the core of democratic citizenship is the understanding of other people and groups in society. She explores aspects of the “challenges public school educators face in constructively and accurately teaching about controversial groups in their classrooms by exploring the case of educating about Muslims since September 11 (9/11).” She argues that the capability of multicultural educators to provide “accurate, balanced understandings” of others is impeded by “limitations internal to the traditional approaches to multicultural education in the United States, as well as by expectations set by current educational standards and related constraints set by typical teacher education programs.” She critically explores common multicultural education theories and practices, and proposes a strategy of “critical multiculturalism.”
In Habitat for Humanity and the Support of Civic Participation, Todd Junkins and Darcia Narvaez pose the question: “What is the best way for individuals to develop skills for civic participation?” They argue that “The Integrative Ethical Education model” is a potent method to develop civic skill, for it offers “a comprehensive approach to ethical education that focuses on skill development within context.” In this article they use this model to “assess Habitat for Humanity’s systematic attempt to bring disenfranchised members of society into the community as full participating members.” They also explore ways to assist Habitat in achieving success as an agent of civic change.
In her article Society’s Response to Environmental Challenges: Citizenship and the Role of Knowledge, Cecilia Lundholm explores the aims and purposes of environmental education and learning, including learning and citizenship. She argues that different social ‘actors’ are dependent on each other in responding to environmental challenges in particular the interactions of government, business and the individual (as citizen, voter and consumer). The paper addresses what the critically important question of the knowledge needed for citizens to understand environmental problems and society’s responses to those problems.