I WOULD LIKE TO THANK René Arcilla and Nicholas Burbules for their support of this project in its early stages. My ideas about the public and the public school have developed in conversation with Walter Feinberg, Kathleen Knight Abowitz, and Chris Lubienski. I would also like to thank the students in my Spring 2010 seminar on What Makes a Public School Public? I presented a version of part of this argument at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Though I have no doubt failed to address many of their concerns, I am grateful to the participants of the 2010 Educational Theory Summer Institute for their critical response to an earlier version of this essay. On behalf of everyone in this issue, I would like to thank Joyce Atkinson for her skill and patience as an editor. Finally, thanks as always to Jennifer Burns for editing, conversation, and support.
THE POSSIBILITY OF PUBLIC EDUCATION IN AN INSTRUMENTALIST AGE
Version of Record online: 4 AUG 2011
© 2011 Board of Trustees | University of Illinois
Volume 61, Issue 4, pages 451–466, August 2011
How to Cite
Higgins, C. (2011), THE POSSIBILITY OF PUBLIC EDUCATION IN AN INSTRUMENTALIST AGE. Educational Theory, 61: 451–466. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-5446.2011.00414.x
- Issue online: 4 AUG 2011
- Version of Record online: 4 AUG 2011
In our increasingly instrumentalist culture, debates over the privatization of schooling may be beside the point. Whether we hatch some new plan for chartering or funding schools, or retain the traditional model of government-run schools, the ongoing instrumentalization of education threatens the very possibility of public education. Indeed, in the culture of performativity, not only the public school but public life itself is hollowed out and debased. Qualities are recast as quantities, judgments replaced by rubrics, teaching and learning turned into exchange values. Schools should be central to public life: key locations for the regeneration of values, the cultivation of judgment, and the creation of the conditions for positive freedom. In this article Chris Higgins, drawing on Hannah Arendt and Alasdair MacIntyre, goes beyond typical treatments of the schools as equalizer of individual opportunity to explore three aspects of educational publicity: the school as an object of communal concern, schooling as preparation for public life, and the classroom as public space.