Speaking back via the spiritual force of democracy

Webster, Robert 2014, Speaking back via the spiritual force of democracy, in AARE 2014: Speaking Back through Research : Proceedings of the Australian Association for Research in Education and the New Zealand Association for Research in Education Conference, AARE, Deakin, A.C.T..

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Title Speaking back via the spiritual force of democracy
Author(s) Webster, RobertORCID iD for Webster, Robert orcid.org/0000-0002-5253-4894
Conference name Australian Association for Research in Education and the New Zealand Association for Research in Education. Conference (2014 : Brisbane : Qld.)
Conference location Brisbane, Qld.
Conference dates 30 Nov. - 4 Dec. 2014
Title of proceedings AARE 2014: Speaking Back through Research : Proceedings of the Australian Association for Research in Education and the New Zealand Association for Research in Education Conference
Publication date 2014
Total pages 12
Publisher AARE
Place of publication Deakin, A.C.T.
Summary It is argued in this paper that through understanding the nature of educational research educators will be better positioned in being able to ‘speak back’. What makes educational research distinct from other social science research is not its technical validity regarding the information it provides (Hammersley, 2003) but rather its normative validity (Biesta, 2010; Carr, 1994; Pring, 2004) - the frame of reference by which interpretations and evaluations are made. Establishing such normative validity requires an engagement with the discipline of education and in particular the aims of education. Educational aims tend to be philosophical in nature and according to Noddings (2003), involve two aspects - critiquing current practices and offering alternative visions. In addition, because aims pertain to people rather than to abstract concepts like ‘education’, they also involve a ‘spiritual force’, as John Dewey describes, which might evoke the courage necessary to undertake various actions such as ‘speaking back’. It is contended here that educators who understand the nature of education – the normative aspect of educational research – and who are animated by a spirit of democracy must ‘speak back’. Such actions can be understood as ‘disobedient’ from the perspective of authorities, and yet as Fromm (1981) argues, disobedience is important for civilising movements. This is because it is not simply an attitude which is against something (such as a rebellious attitude) but more importantly disobedience is an attitude for something significantly worthwhile. This paper shall identify that speaking back requires educators to engage with research that is specifically educational research which necessarily involves philosophic aims of education, and that educators ought to be moved by the spiritual force of democracy to be disobedient for the purpose of enhancing a democratic way of life for Australasia and beyond. This paper begins by examining some aspects of research and of educational research specifically, and how this latter sort of research must necessarily engage with broad concerns in order to offer a framework for evaluating specific researched information. Through this exploration it will then be discussed how necessary it is for the character and very being of individual educators to be involved in this process. Due to this ontological and existential dimension it will be argued that educators, moved by the spirit of democracy, ought to be courageous enough to enact ‘speaking back’ when necessary.
Language eng
Field of Research 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development
Socio Economic Objective 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development
HERDC Research category E1.1 Full written paper - refereed
ERA Research output type E Conference publication
Copyright notice ©2014, AARE
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30091154

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Education
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