PHILOSOPHICAL INQUIRY AND THE ADVANCEMENT OF DEMOCRATIC PRAXIS
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In a time of advancing neoliberal educational practice globally (e.g. Roxborough, 1997, McCafferty, 2010), in the provision of public sector education as well as in assumptions regarding public educational purposes and curriculum development; this paper looks to a broader definition of education (e.g. Biesta, 2009). Authors argue that pedagogical proposal of the Community of Philosophical Inquiry as in the work of Matthew Lipman (e.g. 2002) and Ann Sharp, a model of educational praxis existent in over 60 countries world-wide, can enable the advancement of a vision for deliberative democracy (Lipman, 1998) and social justice and contribute to educational theory and practice in ways which develop communicative rather than individualistic notions of autonomy (Code, 2006, p.170.). Philosophical inquiry, especially as discussed in this paper with adolescents, equips students with the tools to become more critical, to develop a more social and global awareness and consequently enable them to make more reflected moral judgments (Hannam & Echeverria, 2009, p.114). Drawing on practical examples from the direct experience of the authors in the UK and Mexico, as well as building on 40 years of research world-wide, an argument is developed for embedding philosophical thinking into all educational environments as a means of forming transformative intellectuals (Giroux, 1988) and enabling a raising of awareness with regard to the consequences of the tacit acceptance of neoliberal educational policies. Furthermore, drawing on the writing of Hannah Arendt (1998) a view is advanced which suggests that deliberative and participatory democratic structures can be developed in our societies where the opportunity for careful thinking as well as conscious action taking can take place.
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