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The Flight from Reality in the Human Sciences

Ian Shapiro

In this captivating yet troubling book, Ian Shapiro offers a searing indictment of many influential practices in the social sciences and humanities today. Perhaps best known for his critique of rational choice theory, Shapiro expands his purview here. In discipline after discipline, he argues, scholars have fallen prey to inward-looking myopia that results from--and perpetuates--a flight from reality.

In the method-driven academic culture we inhabit, argues Shapiro, researchers too often make display and refinement of their techniques the principal scholarly activity. The result is that they lose sight of the objects of their study. Pet theories and methodological blinders lead unwelcome facts to be ignored, sometimes not even perceived. The targets of Shapiro's critique include the law and economics movement, overzealous formal and statistical modeling, various reductive theories of human behavior, misguided conceptual analysis in political theory, and the Cambridge school of intellectual history.

As an alternative to all of these, Shapiro makes a compelling case for problem-driven social research, rooted in a realist philosophy of science and an antireductionist view of social explanation. In the lucid--if biting--prose for which Shapiro is renowned, he explains why this requires greater critical attention to how problems are specified than is usually undertaken. He illustrates what is at stake for the study of power, democracy, law, and ideology, as well as in normative debates over rights, justice, freedom, virtue, and community. Shapiro answers many critics of his views along the way, securing his position as one of the distinctive social and political theorists of our time.

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For the Children?

Protecting Innocence in a Carceral State

Erica R. Meiners

“Childhood has never been available to all.” In her opening chapter of For the Children?, Erica R. Meiners stakes the claim that childhood is a racial category often unavailable to communities of color. According to Meiners, this is glaringly evident in the U.S. criminal justice system, where the differentiation between child and adult often equates to access to stark disparities. And, what is constructed as child protection under closer examination, often does not benefit many young people or their communities. Placing the child at the heart of the targeted criminalization debate, For the Children? considers how perceptions of innocence, the safe child, and the future operate in service of the prison industrial complex.

The United States has the largest prison population in the world, with incarceration and policing being key economic tools to maintain white supremacist ideologies. Meiners examines the school-to-prison pipeline and the broader prison industrial complex in the U.S., arguing that unpacking child protection is vital to reducing the nation’s reliance on its criminal justice system as well as building authentic modes of public safety. Rethinking the meanings and beliefs attached to the child represent a significant and intimate thread of the work to dismantle facets of the U.S. carceral state.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach and building from a scholar and activist platform, For the Children? engages fresh questions in the struggle to build sustainable and flourishing worlds without prisons.

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For the Love of Cinema

Teaching Our Passion In and Outside the Classroom

Rashna Wadia Richards

What role does love—of cinema, of cinema studies, of teaching and learning—play in teaching film? For the Love of Cinema brings together a wide range of film scholars to explore the relationship between cinephilia and pedagogy. All of them ask whether cine-love can inform the serious study of cinema. Chapter by chapter, writers approach this question from various perspectives: some draw on aspects of students' love of cinema as a starting point for rethinking familiar films or generating new kinds of analyses about the medium itself; others reflect on how their own cinephilia informs the way they teach cinema; and still others offer new ways of writing (both verbally and audiovisually) with a love of cinema in the age of new media. Together, they form a collection that is as much a guide for teaching cinephilia as it is an energetic dialogue about the ways that cinephilia and pedagogy enliven and rejuvenate one another.

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Framing Identities

Autobiography and the Politics of Pedagogy

Wendy S. Hesford

How do historically marginalized groups expose the partiality and presumptions of educational institutions through autobiographical acts? How are the stories we tell used to justify resistance to change or institutional complacency? These are the questions Wendy S. Hesford asks as she considers the uses of autobiography in educational settings. This book demonstrates how autobiographical acts-oral, written, performative, and visual-play out in vexed and contradictory ways and how in the academy they can become sites of cultural struggle over multicultural education, sexual harassment, institutional racism, hate speech, student activism, and commemorative practices. Within the context of Oberlin, a small liberal arts college in Ohio, and beginning with a speak-out organized by Asian American students in 1995, this book looks at the uses of autobiographical practices in empowering groups traditionally marginalized in academic settings. Investigating the process of self-representation and the social, spatial, and discursive frames within which academic bodies and identities are constituted, Framing Identities explores the use of autobiographical acts in terms of power, influence, risks involved, and effectiveness. Hesford does not endorse autobiography as an unequivocal source of empowerment, however. Instead, she illustrates how autobiographical practices in the academy can mobilize competing and often irreconcilable interests. Hesford argues that by integrating self-reflection into cultural, rhetorical, and material analyses-and encouraging students to do the same-teachers not only will largely justify attention to the personal in the classroom, they will help their communities move beyond a naive identity politics. Framing Identities provides a model for teacher-researchers across the disciplines (education, English, composition, cultural studies, women’s studies, to name a few) to investigate the contradictory uses and consequences of autobiography at their own institutions, and to carve out new pedagogical spaces from which they and their students can emerge as social, political, and intellectual subjects.

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Francophonie, minorités et pédagogie

Sous la direction de Phyllis Dalley et Sylvie Roy

Francophonie, minorités et pédagogie regroupe des textes de sociologues et sociolinguistes activement impliqués dans la recherche sur l’éducation de minorités linguistiques au sein de la Francophonie. La richesse en diversité de ces textes permet de souligner l’apport de la sociolinguistique en matière d’analyse des politiques éducatives. De même, ce collectif met en lumière la contribution de la sociolinguistique en matière de production de connaissances mais aussi de développement d’une pédagogie visant une inclusion et le respect du groupe minoritaire au-delà de toutes frontières.

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Free School Teaching

A Journey into Radical Progressive Education

Free School Teaching is the personal and professional journey of one teacher within the American educational system. Faced with mounting frustrations in her own traditional, middle school classroom and having little success in resolving them, Kristan Accles Morrison decided to seek out answers, first by immersing herself in the academic literature of critical education theory and then by turning to the field. While the literature on progressive education gave her hope that things could be different and better for students locked into America’s traditional education system, she wanted to find a firsthand example of how these ideas played out in practice. Morrison found a radical “free school” in Albany, New York, that embodied the ideas found in the literature, and over a period of three months she observed and documented differences between alternative and traditional schools. In trying to reconcile the gap between those systems, Morrison details the lessons she learned about teachers, students, curriculum, and the entire conception of why we educate our children.

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Genuine Intellectuals. Academic and Social Responsibilities of Universities in Africa

Academic and Social Responsibilities of Universities in Africa

This book, slim as it looks, took Bernard Nsokika Fonlon the best part of five laborious years to write 1965-9 inclusive. He writes: "I was penning away as students in France were up in arms against the academic Establishment, and their fury almost toppled a powerful, prestigious, political giant like General de Gaulle. In America students, arms in hand, besieged and stormed the buildings of the University Administration, others blew up lecture halls in Canada - the student revolt, a very saeva indignatio, was in paroxysm. But in England (save in the London School of Economics where students rioted for the lame reason that the College gate looked like that of a jail-house) all was calm..." Fonlon drew on these events to define the role of university education in this precious treasure of a book, which he dedicates to every African freshman and freshwoman. The book details his reflections and vision on the scientific and philosophical Nature, End and Purpose of university studies. He calls on African students to harness the Scientific Method in their quest for Truth, and to put the specialised knowledge they acquire to the benefit of the commonwealth first, then, to themselves. To do this effectively, universities must jealously protect academic freedom from all non-academic interferences. For any university that does not teach a student to think critically and in total freedom has taught him or her nothing of genuine worth. Universities are and must remain sacred places and spaces for the forging of genuine intellectuals imbued with skills and zeal to assume and promote social responsibilities with self abnegation.

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The Gleam of Light

Moral Perfectionism and Education in Dewey and Emerson

Naoko Saito

In the name of efficiency, the practice of education has come to be dominated by neoliberal ideology andprocedures of standardization and quantification. Such attempts to make all aspects of practice transparent and subject to systematic accounting lack sensitivity to the invisible and the silent, to something in the humancondition that cannot readily be expressed in an either-or form. Seeking alternatives to such trends, Saito readsDewey's idea of progressive education through the lens of Emersonian moral perfectionism (to borrow a term coined by Stanley Cavell). She elucidates a spiritual and aesthetic dimension to Dewey's notion of growth, one considerably richer than what Dewey alone presents in his typically scientific terminology.

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The Grammar of Our Civility

Classical Education in America

Lee T. Pearcy

The pragmatic demands of American life have made higher education's sustained study of ancient Greece and Rome an irrelevant luxury, ;and this despite the fact that American democracy depends so heavily on classical language, literature, and political theory. In The Grammar of Our Civility, Lee T. Pearcy chronicles how this came to be. Pearcy argues that classics never developed a distinctly American way of responding to distinctly American social conditions. Instead, American classical education simply imitated European models that were designed to underwrite European culture. The Grammar of Our Civility also offers a concrete proposal for the role of classical education, one that takes into account practical expectations for higher education in twenty-first century America.

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Grappling with the Good

Talking about Religion and Morality in Public Schools

Weaving together history, philosophy, and curriculum, Grappling with the Good offers a vision of public education in which students learn to engage respectfully with the diversity of beliefs about how to live together in society. Robert Kunzman argues that we can and should help students learn how to talk about religion and morality, and bring together our differing visions of life. He describes how such an approach might work in the K–12 setting, explores central philosophical principles, and shares his ongoing experiences and insights in helping students to “grapple with the good.”

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