Read edth_6 323..342 text version

ACTION AS AN EDUCATIONAL VIRTUE: TOWARD A DIFFERENT UNDERSTANDING OF D EMOCRATIC CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION Yusef Waghid

In this essay I attempt to show that compassionate and imaginative action have the potential to extend some of the fundamental dimensions of democratic citizenship education: deliberative argumentation and the recognition of what is other and different. I argue that cultivating democratic citizenship in schools and universities cannot focus solely on teaching students deliberative argumentation and the recognition of difference and otherness. Students must also be taught what it means to act with compassion and imagination because the latter (imaginative action) seems to be desirable in promoting civic reconciliation -- a practice necessary to building relations of care, justice, and trust in university and school dialogical actions. In this way, a different democratic citizenship education agenda can be engendered -- one that not only connects with the lived stories of people but that also opens up possibilities for the realization of civic reconciliation.

323

ACTION AS AN EDUCATIONAL VIRTUE: TOWARD A DIFFERENT UNDERSTANDING OF DEMOCRATIC CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION

Yusef Waghid

Department of Education Policy Studies Stellenbosch University

INTRODUCTION In the global context, citizenship education has been understood and practiced in different ways over the past few decades.1 However, a common aim of democratic citizenship education is to achieve intersubjective, mutual interaction through cooperative human practices. As argued in a recent essay by Matthew Altman, citizenship education needs to ``prepare students to participate in public dialogue about questions of justice and morality.''2 Similarly, Penny Enslin, Shirley Pendlebury, and Mary Tjiattas advocate a democratic citizenship education that focuses on teaching students how ``to make a reasoned argument, written or oral, as well as the abilities to co-operate with others, to appreciate their perspectives and experiences and to tolerate other points of view.''3 The view that citizenship education is a social process that can engender cooperative human activity grows out of liberal and communitarian understandings of what it means to be a citizen. On the one hand, a liberal conception interprets citizenship as entailing a set of rights and corresponding obligations (duties) that people enjoy equally as citizens of a political community. In other words, to be a citizen is to enjoy rights to personal security, to freedom of speech, to vote, to access to housing, health care, education, and so forth. Correspondingly, people are obligated to uphold the rule of law and generally not to interfere with others' enjoyment of their rights. T.H. Marshall made this liberal conception of citizenship famous with the following claim: ``Citizenship is a status bestowed on those who are full members of a community. All who possess the status are equal with respect to the rights and duties with which the status is endowed.''4 To my mind a liberal

1. For more on citizenship education in the United States, see Morris Janowitz, The Reconstruction of Patriotism: Education for Civic Consciousness (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983); in Europe, see William K. Cummings, Saravanan Gopinathan, and Yasumasa Tomoda, eds., The Revival of Values: Education in Asia and the West (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1988); in Taiwan, see Bao-Jane Yuan and Jianping Shen, ``Moral Values Held by Early Adolescents in Taiwan and Mainland China,'' Journal of Moral Education 27, no. 2 (1998): 191­206; in Malaysia, see Cummings, Gopinathan, and Tomoda, The Revival of Values in Asia and the West, 152­157; and in Africa, see Ewald Katjivina, ``Epilogue: Education and Self-Respect,'' Prospects 29, no. 2 (1999): 259­264. 2. Matthew C. Altman, ``What's the Use of Philosophy? Democratic Citizenship and the Direction of Higher Education,'' Educational Theory 54, no. 2 (2004): 143. 3. Penny Enslin, Shirley Pendlebury, and Mary Tjiattas, ``Deliberative Democracy, Diversity and the Challenges of Citizenship Education,'' Journal of Philosophy of Education 35, no. 1 (2001): 116. 4. T.H. Marshall, Citizenship and Social Class (London: Pluto, 1992), 18. EDUCATIONAL THEORY j Volume 55 j Number 3 j 2005 Ó 2005 Board of Trustees j University of Illinois

324

E D U C AT I O N A L

THEORY

VOLUME 55 j NUMBER 3 j 2005

conception of citizenship brings into conflict the respective rights and duties of teachers and students, particularly given that, according to this model of citizenship, they are deemed equal. It is not possible to assume that the educational rights and duties of teachers and students are equal: a teacher has pedagogical authority over a student, which makes their relation inherently unequal. On the other hand, a communitarian conception of citizenship, while not denying the importance of citizens' rights, places more emphasis on the idea that citizens work together in shaping the future of society. Briefly, if we accept Gerard Delanty's schema, at least three strands of communitarianism frame a conception of citizenship.5 First, according to a liberal communitarian theory of citizenship such as that propounded by Charles Taylor, what is at stake is not just participation in the political community, but also the recognition of minority groups' cultural identities by the dominant cultural community. For cultural minorities to participate in their political community, they must adapt to the dominant culture -- in essence, they have to become citizens of the dominant culture.6 Such a liberal communitarian view of citizenship would establish conditions for children and students of minority cultures to participate in educational activities, but such participation comes at the cost of adapting their views to fit those of the dominant cultural group. In a different way these minorities' voices would possibly become subjected to the voices of the dominant culture, which undermines their reasons for participating in the public sphere. Such a situation could, in turn, seriously thwart the authentic voices of minority groups and could even lead to marginalization and exclusion. Second, a conservative communitarian view of citizenship is concerned with creating a sense of responsibility, identity, and participation at micro levels of society, such as within the family, in schools, and in enforcing laws and regulations.7 Although such a conception of citizenship stresses participation as a civic responsibility and as necessary to social regeneration, it excuses the state from responsibility for society. It is difficult to imagine a citizenship education agenda that releases the state from its responsibility to serve schools and universities, but the conservative communitarian approach would exonerate the state from blame if education were to fail society at large. In any case, excluding the state from a citizenship education agenda does not seem to be an attractive option, since only the state has the political authority to establish or undermine conditions under which citizenship education can begin to unfold in public education institutions.

5. Gerard Delanty, Citizenship in a Global Age: Society, Culture and Politics (Buckingham: Open University Press, 2002). 6. Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990). 7. Delanty, Citizenship in a Global Age, 30. YUSEF WAGHID is Professor and Chair of Philosophy of Education in the Department of Education Policy Studies at Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602 South Africa; e-mail \[email protected][. His primary areas of scholarship are philosophy of education and democratic citizenship education.

WAGHID

Action as an Educational Virtue

325

Third, civic republicanism is a communitarianism of participation that strongly emphasizes the associational character of citizenship. Its defining features are commitment to and participation in public life, and it basically ignores ``social struggles in the private domain.''8 Will Kymlicka's vision of ``communitarian democracy'' has given the idea of civic republicanism a more concrete form. He argues that democracy depends on

the quality and attitude of its citizens, including their sense of identity and, specifically, how they view potentially competing forms of national, regional, ethnic, or religious identities; their ability to tolerate and work with others who are different from themselves; their desire to participate in the political process in order to promote the public good (through consensus) and hold authorities accountable; and their willingness to show self-restraint and exercise personal responsibility in their economic demands and in personal choices that affect their health and the environment. Without citizens who possess these qualities, democracies become difficult to govern, even unstable.9

Although such a conception of citizenship education could promote the values of commitment, tolerance, responsibility, accountability, and public participation -- the very values that allow a democracy to flourish -- it not only falls short of what is personal and private, but it also assumes ``a pre-existing cultural consensus underlying political community.''10 Consensus should not necessarily be a prerequisite for public participation. If such a conception of citizenship were to frame education in schools and universities (and I have good reason to believe this is the case in South Africa, my own country), then the determining aim of education would become to achieve consensus -- for instance, consensus on what counts as good or not so good education. Such an understanding of education would mute different and dissenting voices and, in turn, undermine educational disagreement and challenge.11 In the next section of this essay, I will discuss two conceptions of democratic citizenship, developed by Jurgen Habermas and Iris Marion Young, that attempt to ¨ compensate for the limitations of a communitarian conception of citizenship. But Habermas and Young's conceptions have limitations of their own, and I will address these issues specifically with reference to the ideas of compassionate and imaginative action as conceived by Martha Nussbaum, Hannah Arendt, and Maxine Greene. I contend that compassionate and imaginative action are educational virtues that have the potential to bridge some of the gaps in Habermas and Young's notions of democratic citizenship and, further, to create a sound foundation for realizing civic reconciliation. DEMOCRATIC CITIZENSHIP: DISCURSIVE AND RADICAL VIEWS There are at least two conceptions of democratic citizenship that challenge the limitations of communitarian conceptions of citizenship. First, while accepting that

8. Ibid., 34, 35. 9. Will Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction, 2d ed. (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 285. 10. Delanty, Citizenship in a Global Age, 30. 11. For instance, there is a strong minority view in South Africa that the new outcomes-based education (OBE) system in schools undermines creativity and imagination. But the Ministry of Education has given scant attention to this view, despite significant empirical evidence from previously disadvantaged schools that OBE is simply not achieving its desired intentions.

326

E D U C AT I O N A L

THEORY

VOLUME 55 j NUMBER 3 j 2005

public participation ultimately needs to result in consensus, Jurgen Habermas argues ¨ that consensus ought to grow out of argumentative communication or deliberation and reflection. In other words, consensus should not be a prerequisite for discussion; rather, it should reflect the democratic discourse of informed deliberation and reflection responsive to the demands of an active citizenry. Deliberation can be understood as ``unhindered communicative freedom.[that involves] rational opinion- and willformation'' and that always potentially leads to a transformation in people's preferences.12 Here I want to emphasize Habermas's notion of ``unhindered communicative freedom'' as a constitutive good of (discursive) democratic citizenship. If an exchange of arguments or points of view were to be unconstrained in a Habermasian sense, then it follows that no individual or group of people could legitimately exclude others from deliberating on educational matters that interest them. The rights of people to participate in deliberation are legally institutionalized such that no individual can be excluded from the political (or educational) process.13 Moreover, if, as Habermas maintains, each individual has ``an equal opportunity to be heard'' in the deliberative process, then democratic citizenship underpins a concern for the inclusion of minority viewpoints and sets limits on what the majority can legitimately do. Of course, Habermas's argument that the deliberation process must yield a majority-backed decision does not undermine the views of minorities.14 Habermas conceives of majority decision making in relation to reasonableness. For him, the reasonableness of majority decision making depends upon two elements: (1) political deliberation must conclude with a decision endorsed by the majority of participants; and (2) the principle of majority decision making functions as a rule of argumentation that requires participants in the minority to persuade the majority of the ``correctness'' of their views. The point Habermas makes is that de facto majority decision making cannot be the criterion for better and more reasonable argumentation; rather, deliberative majority rule must be ``considered as a reasonable basis for a common practice.until the minority convinces the majority that their views are correct.''15 In other words, democratic decisions by majority rule may be revised (and possibly reversed) on the basis that minorities have good reason to question the legitimacy of the majority outcome. It is important to note that the future possibility of reversing majority outcomes means that minority views are not permanently excluded from the democratic decisionmaking process. The kind of majority outcome envisioned by Habermas grows out of a compromise reached between majorities and minorities in cases where agreement could not be negotiated on the basis of deliberation, that is, the majority could not convince the minority of its views or vice versa.

12. Jurgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and De¨ mocracy, trans. William Rheg (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996), 299. 13. Ibid., 147. 14. Jurgen Habermas, ``Three Normative Models of Democracy,'' in Democracy and Difference: Con¨ testing the Boundaries of the Political, ed. Seyla Benhabib (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1996), 21­30. 15. Ibid., 29.

WAGHID

Action as an Educational Virtue

327

Thus, a discursive account of democratic citizenship seeks ongoing deliberation as a means to identifying the ``better'' argument between majorities and minorities after the parties have temporarily reached a compromise for the sake of progress. By implication, democratic citizenship actually compels the majority to take the minority into account, as they must make their reasons answerable to minorities. The point is that majority rule should not be abandoned in favor of ongoing debate and reflexive discussion, nor should it be rejected as a process that permanently excludes minorities; instead, it should serve as a temporary aggregative voting procedure that prevents the occurrence of impasses between majorities and minorities. In Habermas's formulation, majority rule is a revisable compromise decision meant not only to ensure that minority opinion is respected (as when majority views are modified to meet the objectives of minorities), but also to safeguard open and honest deliberation of an issue before coming to a decision by majority vote. Thus the discussion has to shift from the question of the prevalence of simple majority decision making in deliberative processes to one of what constitutes better and more reasonable argumentation. To some extent, Habermas recognizes this point:

In contrast, a discourse-theoretic interpretation insists on the fact that democratic willformation draws its legitimating force both from the communicative pre-suppositions that allow the better arguments to come into play in various forms of deliberations and from the procedures that secure fair bargaining processes.16

Habermas's account of discursive (democratic) citizenship has important implications for schools and universities. Children and students must use the tools of deliberation and reflection to convince others of what they have to say, but the idea that these minority voices must accede to a temporary consensus creates a dilemma: such an approach reduces the possibility that untold stories will be heard. Habermas's (discursive) conception of democratic citizenship, like communitarianism, assumes that all persons are autonomous and could rationally articulate persuasive arguments in the context of public deliberations. Recognizing this problem with the discursive democratic view of citizenship, Iris Young proposes a radical conception of democratic citizenship that does not see people as autonomous agents operating in the public sphere. She contends that a citizenship education that does not take into account the private realm is not only constructed on the ideal of a homogenous society (where everybody is considered as being the same) but also has the potential to exclude marginalized groups:

The attempt to realise an ideal of universal (civic republican) citizenship that finds the public embodying generality as opposed to particularity, commonness versus difference, will tend to exclude or to put at a disadvantage some groups even when they have formally equal citizenship status.17

For this reason Young proposes a conception of democratic citizenship that does not seek primarily to promote equality and consensus but instead asserts the right to remain different and to articulate concerns in as many voices as possible (dissensus):

16. Ibid., 24. 17. Iris Marion Young, ``Politics and Group Difference: A Critique of the Ideal of Universal Citizenship,'' Ethics 99, no. 2 (1989): 257­258.

328

E D U C AT I O N A L

THEORY

VOLUME 55 j NUMBER 3 j 2005

Instead of a universal (communitarian) citizenship we need a group differentiated citizenship and a heterogeneous public. In a heterogeneous public, differences are publicly recognised and acknowledged as irreducible, by which I mean that a person from one perspective or history can never completely understand and adopt the point of view of those with other group-based perspectives and histories.18

Such a (radical) democratic notion of citizenship aims to integrate the private and public worlds by recognizing both that all people have a voice and are different, and that they have a right to participation in public life. Young's ideas are related to notions about the importance of creating spaces for students to argue deliberatively in university and school classrooms. She cautions that to expect argumentation to be persuasive is elitist and exclusionary, since such a view marginalizes students who are less eloquent and find rational articulation difficult.19 Young makes the point that deliberative argumentation is often competitive and agonistic, and it privileges those who know the rules of this style of discourse -- in other words, it privileges dominant communication styles.20 If Young is right, setting out to teach ``deliberative argumentation'' is likely to silence some students while giving advantage to those capable of eloquently and rationally articulating their points of view. She argues that deliberative argumentation also needs to endorse such modes of communication as greeting, rhetoric, and narrative (storytelling). Greeting (an expression of courtesy) enables participants to recognize what they have to say to one another, which in turn establishes conditions for deliberation and relations of trust. Rhetoric (an attempt to grab people's attention) allows participants to listen carefully to what others have to say, thus building respect for the viewpoints of others. However, rhetoric does not simply mean that one has to listen uncritically to what others have to say. Some deliberations may be uneasy -- provocative or even threatening, for instance. But the foundation of respect that rhetoric builds keeps participants from abandoning the conversation due to lack of trust in what each has to say to the other. This basis of trust is essential to the third mode of communication Young introduces: narrative, or storytelling. Narrative enhances the possibility of understanding the contending viewpoints of different people, albeit in terms of values, experience, culture, language, and ethnicity. In doing so, it provides opportunities for students who might be less eloquent and articulate to tell their individual stories so that these can become socially situated knowledge that is shared by all participants.21 By creating the conditions for students and teachers to listen to and learn the value of others' points of view, narrative has the potential to advance ``deliberative argumentation'' in university and school classrooms. However, this raises the question of whether greeting, rhetoric, and narrative (as moments of deliberative argumentation) have the potential to help students

18. Ibid., 258. 19. For example, in most South African university classrooms, where the language of communication is not the mother tongue of the majority of students, imposing standards of eloquence and rational articulation would seem to impede students' aspirations to make their arguments more persuasive. 20. Iris Marion Young, ``Communication and the Other: Beyond Deliberative Democracy,'' in Democracy and Difference, ed. Benhabib, 120. 21. Ibid., 132.

WAGHID

Action as an Educational Virtue

329

become full participants in deliberative engagement and thus more promising democratic citizens. To address this question, I shall draw on the work of Meira Levinson, who challenges the idea of deliberation by arguing that disadvantaged groups -- even if they participate fully -- are ``unlikely to be able to influence debate appropriately.'' I agree with Levinson's concern that disadvantaged groups, even if afforded opportunities to engage in pedagogical conversations, are least likely to shape the deliberations, since there is a good chance that not everything they say will be ``heard and understood.''22 This makes sense, considering that, in deliberations, the more advantaged groups -- those that put forward arguments about the world that rest on premises generally accepted by others in these groups -- seem to dominate. In deliberations that include students from disadvantaged groups, I have noticed that it is not unusual for more eloquent students to pose the question, ``What do you mean?'' thereby suggesting that the claims of the disadvantaged students were perhaps not comprehensible to more articulate students. Of course, one might argue that more eloquent and articulate students have different experiences of the world and would invariably question some of the assumptions of disadvantaged students. For instance, in South Africa many Black students might claim that to question teachers or university professors would not be feasible, since in traditional tribal communities authority remains unquestioned.23 Members of advantaged groups might reject this idea as outrageous, given that they consider questioning, challenging, and debating to be salient features of deliberation. In such a case the deliberation is not likely to be substantively inclusive, and, therefore, from the disadvantaged group's point of view, it is not likely to be legitimate.24 It is in this regard that Levinson's argument becomes quite apposite. She proposes that students need to learn how to express themselves in terms that others would naturally understand: ``To put it simply, in every country and in every community, there is a language of power, and if one wants to be effective through political dialogue (as opposed to through direct action, boycotts, radical street theatre, etc.), one must master and use that language.''25 Levinson's account of the importance of mastering the language of power in one's community and country particularly interests me. On the one hand, at the institution where I work, learning to master the Afrikaans language seems to be necessary if one wants to be an effective member of a deliberative conversation. One must learn how to listen to Afrikaans-speaking students and teachers, regardless of how unappealing or confused their claims might appear on the surface. Furthermore, non-Afrikaans-speaking students and teachers must learn to express themselves in ways that others might find more palatable and easier to hear and understand. On the other hand, disadvantaged students (particularly those from Black Xhosa-speaking and Colored Afrikaans-speaking

22. Meira Levinson, ``Challenging Deliberation,'' Theory and Research in Education 1, no. 1 (2003): 27. 23. I have encountered several Black master's students from countries such as Namibia, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe who are hesitant to challenge the views of professors. 24. Levinson, ``Challenging Deliberation,'' 28. 25. Ibid., 36.

330

E D U C AT I O N A L

THEORY

VOLUME 55 j NUMBER 3 j 2005

communities) should learn and speak what Levinson refers to as a ``language of power'' (in South Africa, this language is undoubtedly English) that is not intrinsically their own. Like Levinson, I find this aspect of deliberative argumentation particularly interesting for two reasons. First, learning and mastering a language of power could create the conditions necessary for nurturing relations of trust among deliberative participants. It builds confidence when all participants feel comfortable expressing themselves in a language (as ``insiders,'' although really ``outsiders'') that others understand and can respond to. Second, learning a language of power is important because it enables people to share good ideas about culture, society, and politics, not only in a linguistic sense, but also in terms of substance. By this I mean that what might (or might not) be considered a good idea by deliberative participants of a multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic, or multireligious group needs to be made clear in a language they can all understand. For instance, a common language facilitates one's ability to convey effectively the negative effects of poverty and famine to students who are perhaps not directly familiar with cases of hunger and suffering.26 A valid question here is whether acquiring a language of power would necessarily transform students into better democratic citizens. A language of power may enable students to articulate their points of view more persuasively and eloquently or to provide stronger justifications, but it does not necessarily give them the ability to recognize and understand voices that are different from their own. Deliberative argumentation through a language of power focuses on a particular kind of linguistic interchange among students and teachers: an exchange in which they listen to one another, critically evaluate each others' points of view, and offer reasons for their own judgments and actions.27 This kind of exchange does not,

26. Of course, learning a language of power is not without its dilemmas. In South Africa, certainly, acquiring a language of power (in this case, English) could further widen the gap between Black students (the majority population group) and White, Colored, and Indian students, most of whom have not mastered a Black indigenous language. One would not necessarily consider an African language a ``language of power,'' but there are compelling reasons to acquire such a language in a postapartheid society, where the likelihood of achieving reconciliation and social justice could be enhanced through mastering the indigenous languages of the previously racially oppressed and marginalized. Certainly, the reconciliation process would be furthered if we made a higher priority of improving our communication with fellow South Africans (the majority of whom are Black). For this reason, learning a ``language of power'' should not occur at the expense of people having to acquire some understanding of the indigenous African cultures and ethnicities of the country's majority population. The point of acquiring a language of power should be to enable (African) students to communicate their stories to others, who might otherwise not be familiar with indigenous cultures. A number of African students in my master's seminars have noted that their lack of English-language skills hampers their articulation of a variety of religious, genealogical, mythical, and proverbial arguments and claims. In this way, not knowing a language of power would in many ways undermine what stories (sometimes through folklore and ritualistic practices) they (African students) have to tell. In other words, not knowing a language of power would mean that the speakers could do little to ensure that their stories are told. In addition, the process of globalization has placed considerable demands on people -- certainly all South Africans, including the previously disadvantaged majority -- to cope with the stark realities of having partial information and misinformation disseminated through what Levinson refers to as ``technologies of power'' (the Internet, the nightly news, lobbyists, and organs of state power). The ideas disseminated through these technologies pose a challenge to our disadvantaged majority that I contend can be addressed by means of their learning a ``language of power.'' See Levinson, ``Challenging Deliberation,'' 28. 27. Klas Roth, ``Freedom of Choice, Community and Deliberation,'' Journal of Philosophy of Education 37, no. 3 (2003): 407­409.

WAGHID

Action as an Educational Virtue

331

however, seem to recognize the inner voices of others, what Jo Anne Pagano refers to as ``understand[ing] who is speaking and under what conditions.''28 Young's notion of radical democratic citizenship illustrates the problem: while she focuses on the importance of letting people tell their stories, she does not take into account the fact that the circumstances and conditions in which students live will affect those narratives. For instance, asking a student to tell her story about human rights violations in her community does not necessarily mean that one is aware of the vulnerabilities she might be suffering as a consequence of domestic violence, male aggression, civil war, racial discrimination, or other human indignities. How can we cultivate deliberative argumentation in a classroom that does not recognize the different inner voices and experiences of the other that teach us, as Pagano puts it, ``to share the desire [and experiences] of the other''? Hence, this lack of recognizing voice and difference is central to the debate about democratic citizenship -- a debate that I want to extend through exploring the idea of compassionate action. Next, I will analyze the work of Martha Nussbaum and Hannah Arendt on this topic and will particularly emphasize their arguments for the need in education to give voice to those who are different and vulnerable. TOWARD A RADICALIZATION OF DEMOCRATIC CITIZENSHIP: MAKING AN ARGUMENT FOR COMPASSIONATE ACTION Thus far, I have argued that a liberal conception of citizenship education merely advocates the private goals of people without concern for the public good. I have also shown some limitations of a communitarian conception of citizenship education, particularly its emphasis on the importance of public participation aimed at achieving a common good based on consensus. In contrast, a democratic conception of citizenship education makes it possible for students not only to engage in deliberative conversation but, more important, to articulate their personal stories. However, letting students tell their stories does not necessarily mean that their inner (private) voices will be heard. This recognition of difference and inner voice is central to my exploration of compassionate action. I contend that compassionate action can engender a notion of citizenship education that goes beyond the discursive and radical notions of democratic citizenship propounded by Habermas and Young. In facilitating deliberative argumentation in their classrooms, teachers seem at best to be concerned with what Arendt refers to as doing ``work.'' Work is that human condition that illustrates the ``unnaturalness'' of human existence: it brings an artificial world of things, distinctly different from all natural surroundings, into being. It is concerned with making, which, like fabrication, is a process with a beginning and an end.29 Deliberative argumentation can be understood as work facilitated by teachers. It is a human condition that starts with students

28. Jo Anne Pagano, ``The Problems of Teacher-Student Relationships in Troubled Times,'' in Teaching and Its Predicaments, eds. Nicholas C. Burbules and David T. Hansen (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1997), 1. 29. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 2d ed. (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 7, 171. This work will be cited as HC in the text for all subsequent references.

332

E D U C AT I O N A L

THEORY

VOLUME 55 j NUMBER 3 j 2005

offering persuasive arguments and ends with others being convinced, or not convinced, by the reasons these students offer. Once students have made their arguments through justification and persuasion, teachers consider what has been told as conclusive without necessarily having heard their students' inner voices -- what Arendt refers to as their ``self-disclosure,'' that is, the passionate drive to measure their own experiences against those of others (HC, 194). For instance, one student might have encountered a tragic moment in his family history that he could not speak about. Or another student might have been subjected to racism at her institution but did not find the space in the deliberative classroom to tell her story, even though sharing such a tale might have the potential to build stronger race relations at a time of heightened political uncertainty.30 The broader point I am making is that, if open deliberative argumentation cannot unfold in university and school classrooms, it reduces the chance of producing active democratic citizens who can one day enter and play a meaningful role in the public realm. This problem is what attracts me to Arendt's notion of action. Arendt's compelling account of action as the disclosure of the individual agent in word and deed comprises the following meanings. First, to act means to begin by taking the initiative -- to set something in motion. Students are said to act when they initiate speech, specifically, when they question and challenge an argument without having to be told or asked by teachers to do so. Following Arendt, students who take the initiative are initium, that is, newcomers or beginners by virtue of their having been prompted into action (HC, 177). Second, when students act, then the unexpected can be expected: they become capable of performing what is ``infinitely improbable.'' In doing so, they announce what they do, have done, and intend to do (HC, 178­79). Take as an example the student who has not spoken a word in class previously but who one day decides to talk. In Arendt's formulation, this student does the unexpected and improbable by communicating to the class how she has felt excluded from discussions at times and by then committing herself to engage in future deliberations with fellow students. Third, students who act never do so in isolation; instead, they act in the presence of others (HC, 188). In other words, an ``actor always moves among and in relation to other acting beings, he is never merely a `doer' but always and at the same time a sufferer'' (HC, 190). If my reading of Arendt is correct, this means that people who act have the capacity and willingness not only to disclose their inner voices through speech, but also to drive themselves toward listening and responding to others without being inhibited in doing so. Such people recognize that their audience also has a right to be heard and listened to. If this happens, then the act of deliberation can be understood as a willing and unhindered dialogue. Fourth, action has the same effect or outcome of, say, deliberative argumentation, in that it is unpredictable and irreversible (HC, 220). When deliberation yields an unpredictable and irreversible result, then there is a

30. As a university student, I was a victim of racial trauma, and, during the time of apartheid, I could not share this experience with my professors because of mistrust and suspicion. At the institution where I work, Black students still feel constrained about raising their voices regarding injustices of past apartheid in their classes out of fear that they might be discriminated against or marginalized for speaking out.

WAGHID

Action as an Educational Virtue

333

strong likelihood of building a lasting dialogue. Such a situation would, in turn, enable students and teachers to engage in durable deliberations that make the end of argumentation improbable and its result unpredictable. And when students and teachers act in this way, they will want to tell their stories because what seems to be the end of a story marks the beginning of something else: the increased possibility of recognizing the inner voices of others, because unknown voices can only be heard when deliberations are durable. Predicaments inevitably arise when one acts, listens, and responds to the inner voices of others who are different from one's self -- a point Arendt recognized. For example, a student engaged in a discussion cannot necessarily foresee that some of his or her remarks will provoke or anger another student. As Arendt reminded us, however, we can engage in further action by taking initiatives to bring such provocation, anger, and threats under control. She proposed that human beings forgive and make promises in order to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected outcomes of our actions. For Arendt, forgiveness means to undo what was done, since it is ``always an eminently personal (though not necessarily individual or private) affair in which what was done is forgiven for the sake of who did it'' (HC, 241). Many South Africans have had to deal with feelings of anger and the desire for revenge against injustices perpetrated against them by the apartheid rulers, and they have had to recognize that retaliation and vengeance would likely provoke further revenge and political instability. In contrast, the recent efforts of many apartheid victims to forgive past wrongs and to seek reconciliation have broken the cycle of violence and revenge. As Arendt observed, no one person can forgive unilaterally; only the unpredictable cooperation of others can break the chain of unintended consequences set off by action:

Forgiveness is the exact opposite of vengeance, which acts in the form of re-acting against an original trespassing, whereby far from putting an end to the consequences of the first misdeed (everybody remains bound to the process, permitting the chain reaction contained in every action to take its unhindered course). Forgiving, in other words, is the only reaction which does not merely re-act but acts anew and unexpectedly, unconditioned by the act which provoked and therefore freeing from its consequences both the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven (HC, 240­241).

Thus, schools and universities should become seedbeds for cultivating forgiveness if societies are to deal more meaningfully with the unintended and unpredictable outcomes of deliberative actions. If students are taught to forgive one another, the possibility that some students will expose their inner voices during deliberations (even when these voices are controversial, provocative, or threatening) would lay the groundwork for a type of self-disclosure that ``never come[s] to an end'' (HC, 241). Hence, the cultivation of democratic citizenship in schools and universities can only be achieved through encouraging both speech (deliberative argumentation) and action (unexpected initiative). For me, there is still the question of how does one begin to act. What prompts one to forgive? Arendt made the point that one has to be willing to forgive, which implies that one should have some regard for the other person, that is, one must respect the other person. Respect is, for Arendt, a kind of ``friendship'' without

334

E D U C AT I O N A L

THEORY

VOLUME 55 j NUMBER 3 j 2005

intimacy and closeness: it is a regard for the person from the distance that the world puts between us (HC, 243). This brings me to a discussion of regard for the other, or what Martha Nussbaum refers to as compassion. Ultimately, I maintain that in order to act in a forgiving way, one has to have regard for the other person -- in other words, one must have compassion for the other. To this point I have argued that action can help students and teachers to become more active democratic citizens, and I have shown how forgiveness can help students and teachers become better citizens. Now I will turn my attention to how compassion can prompt forgiveness in people. As compassionate actors, students and teachers in universities and schools can extend their sense of democratic citizenship through recognizing one another's vulnerabilities. How can action (and forgiveness) be prompted? Nussbaum raises the question of the positive contribution that emotions such as compassion can make in guiding deliberation among students. She argues that compassion is the most important emotion to cultivate in preparing people to engage in deliberation and just action in public as well as private life.31 On her view, deliberation ought to be occasioned by the emotional drive to treat others justly and humanely, that is, with compassion. Certainly, the situation in South African schools, where diverse students (Black and White, from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds) are beginning to deliberate about matters of public concern -- such as crime, victimization, homelessness, job discrimination, unemployment, domestic violence and abuse of women, poverty and lack of food, political alienation, alcoholism and drug abuse, and the absence of good prospects -- requires students to make certain practical judgments about how to deal with these different variables in their public and personal lives. The judgments they make will inevitably be based on their perceptions of others' distress, undeserved misfortune, suffering, injustice, plight, disability, and disease. It is in this regard that compassion becomes a necessary condition for acting upon and deliberating about such matters, because compassion not only prompts in people an awareness of the misfortune or suffering of others, but it also ``pushes the boundaries of the self'' outward by focusing one's attention on the suffering of others (UT, 299). Nussbaum's understanding of compassion as painful emotional judgment encompasses at least two cognitive requirements: first, a belief or appraisal that the suffering of others is serious and not trivial, and that persons do not deserve to suffer; and second, the belief that the possibilities of the person who experiences the emotion are similar to those of the sufferer. I shall now discuss these two requirements of compassion in relation to how students and teachers ought to deliberate rationally while at the same time cultivating a concern to be just and humane toward others -- that is, to act compassionately. First, insofar as one can become serious about the suffering of others, one must believe them to be without blame for the kind of injustice they might have

31. Martha C. Nussbaum, Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 299. This work will be cited as UT in the text for all subsequent references.

WAGHID

Action as an Educational Virtue

335

suffered, and one must recognize that the person's plight needs to be alleviated. This view does not discount the idea that one can even feel compassion for someone whose misfortune is ``deserved.'' However, in this case, my focus is on those who suffer injustices through no fault of their own. Many students who are blameless for their inability to pay school fees due to their parents not having enjoyed economic prosperity after decades of apartheid require the compassion of others. In such circumstances, deliberation at school and at the university should take the form of ascertaining what can be done to ensure that students who do not have the financial means to enroll remain part of the educational community, rather than finding ways to penalize or, in some cases, humiliate them. So compassion requires not only blamelessness on the part of students who are unable to pay school fees, but also ``onlookers'' who can make judgments about the need to expedite the flourishing of the students in question. Similarly, a teacher has compassion for students who, through no fault of their own, have received inadequate or substandard schooling (that is, those students whose parents could not afford to send them to more affluent and well-organized schools, or to pay for the services of extramural tutors, as is often the case in South Africa). Such a teacher recognizes the need to find creative ways to help disadvantaged students come to grips with difficult concepts in their studies and at the same time acknowledges that the students are not responsible for the unjust educational system that they might have been exposed to. One could argue that all students should be treated equally and that no student should receive preferential treatment of any sort, including additional pedagogical support. But this stance ignores the fact that many students, certainly those in South Africa, have had, and may still have, unequal access to educational opportunities. Second, compassion is best cultivated if one acknowledges some sort of community between oneself and the other, specifically understanding what it might mean for one to encounter possibilities and vulnerabilities similar to those of the sufferer:

[One] will learn compassion best if he [or she] begins by focusing on their sufferings..[I]n order for compassion to be present, the person must consider the suffering of another as a significant part of his or her own scheme of goals and ends. She must take that person's ill as affecting her own flourishing. In effect, she must make herself vulnerable in the person of another (UT, 317).

This recognition of one's own related vulnerability requires students who might have a clear understanding of, say, concepts in a literature classroom, and who may be inclined to become impatient with their peers who do not grasp these concepts, to imagine what it would be like to themselves encounter difficulty with the concepts. Likewise, an instructor teaching literary studies should become more aware of what it means for students to encounter epistemological difficulty. In Nussbaum's words, ``the recognition of one's own related vulnerability is, then, an important and frequently an indispensable epistemological requirement for compassion in human beings'' (UT, 317). In essence, compassion brings to the fore the intellectual emotions of people in ethical deliberation. It is simply not sufficient to educate by focusing solely on deliberation without also cultivating compassion. Deliberative argumentation prompts students and teachers to question meanings, to imagine alternative

336

E D U C AT I O N A L

THEORY

VOLUME 55 j NUMBER 3 j 2005

possibilities, to modify practical judgments, to foster respect, and to develop critical engagement. Yet, it seldom brings into play those human emotions that are necessary to making ongoing dialogical interaction worthwhile. If we ignore the pedagogical vulnerabilities of the weak, we cannot move very far in the direction of meaningful education, that is to say, action with unpredictable and unintended outcomes. So we also need compassionate students and teachers. But cultivating compassion in relation to schooling without taking into account the lived experiences of those who suffer in our society would also constrain relevant dialogue and research that aims to understand and improve (perhaps through forgiveness) the conditions of the marginalized other. Hence, in the final section of this essay, I shall focus on practical strategies, drawing on ideas developed by Nussbaum, that teachers in schools and universities can use to engender compassionate action. In addition, I shall highlight some of the strengths and limitations of compassionate action in the quest to engender civic reconciliation -- an issue crucial to realizing a deliberative democratic citizenship agenda in South African universities and schools.32 STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS OF COMPASSIONATE ACTION: PROMOTING CIVIC RECONCILIATION THROUGH IMAGINATIVE ACTION Nussbaum's compelling account of compassion articulates practical strategies that teachers could employ to support and cultivate democratic citizenship education in schools and universities. First, compassionate action for Nussbaum involves cultivating in students the ability to imagine the experiences of others and to participate in their suffering -- that is, it teaches them to extend their empathy to more people and to different types of people.33 This can already be done at an elementary level, when students learn their first stories, rhymes, and songs, by specifically seeking out works that acquaint the student with a sense of wonder, a sense of mystery that blends curiosity with surprise. Think of the song that begins ``Imagine there's no people.'' In learning this song the child learns to imagine what life would be like without other human beings and, on a psychological level, develops a concern for people outside herself. Later on, this child may also be encouraged to be more keenly aware of other people's suffering, which might lead her to other stories that display such human vulnerabilities as death, illness, rape, war, deceit, and tragedy. This encounter with tragedy is particularly important to Nussbaum: she argues that

32. My argument in defense of imaginative action has some bearing on promoting civic reconciliation in South African public spaces, including universities and schools. In 1995 the Truth and Reconciliation Committee was formed in order to promote a ``culture of human rights'' and to construct a new national identity, highlighting the need for South Africans adversely affected by apartheid injustices to move ``beyond justice'' (in Archbishop Desmond Tutu's words) to forgiveness and reconciliation. See Richard A. Wilson, The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation: Legitimizing the Post-Apartheid State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 9­11. The notion of civic reconciliation as I use it here refers to a ``healing of the wounds.'' Apartheid atrocities severely wounded those in the Black majority, and reconciliation is needed to heal those wounds. In the political context, civic reconciliation is a shared and painful ethical voyage from wrong to right and also a symbolic settling of moral and political (and, I would add, educational) indebtedness. As Kader Asmal, Louise Asmal, and R.S. Roberts note, it is ``a conscious and justified settling of accounts with the past.'' See Kader Asmal, Louise Asmal, and Ronald S. Roberts, Reconciliation through Truth: A Reckoning of Apartheid's Criminal Governance (Cape Town and Johannesburg: David Philip Publishers, 1996), 47. 33. Asmal, Asmal, and Roberts, Reconciliation through Truth, 426.

WAGHID

Action as an Educational Virtue

337

tragedies acquaint students with bad things that may happen in human life long before life itself does so, thus laying the foundation for a concern for others who are suffering difficulties these students have not suffered.34 For instance, through myths, stories, poetry, drama, music, and the visual arts, teachers could acquaint students with a wide range of possible calamities and consequently cause their students to become attentive to and concerned about the distress that human beings can experience. Teachers could use novels about the fate of a tragic and worthy hero, the trauma of young women raped in wartime, the murder of children, the experiences of the mentally disabled, and people who have suffered persecution by those in power as powerful tools for encouraging ``compassionate imagining.''35 My potential critic might legitimately ask, How does one -- take, for example, a historically advantaged White person in South Africa -- actually participate in the ``suffering'' of the many poor Black people who live in unbearable social conditions in squatter camps?36 I cannot imagine that many privileged South African Whites would give up their comfortable homes in established urban areas to live in abject poverty and squalor in squatter camps, and I do not expect them to do so. This reality makes the idea of participating in the ``suffering'' of others, and, hence, of compassionate action, somewhat limited. For this reason I take comfort in the ideas of Maxine Greene, who contends that imaginative action (as distinct from compassionate action) creates a space in which teachers and students in university and school classrooms are able to look at things as if they could be otherwise, that is, they look at things anew. In this imaginative space they are able ``to break with what is supposedly fixed and finished, objectively and independently real.''37 Greene's idea of imaginative action conceives teachers as struggling to understand how our students are processing and ``living'' the information we share with them -- that is, imaginative action awakens in us an awareness of the ``multiple voices'' and ``multiple realities'' of others. When we can see, hear, and connect with the lives of others, we become repositioned to ``participate in some dimensions (say, of students' lives) that we could not know if imagination were not aroused.''38

34. Ibid., 428. 35. Ibid., 430. 36. According to figures supplied by South Africa's Department of Education, 4.3 percent of young adults and 17 percent of youth are illiterate (45 percent of adults are functionally illiterate); 4,407 schools are in ``poor'' or ``very poor'' condition; close to half of the nation's schools have a shortage of classrooms (almost 65,000 additional classrooms are needed); 2.3 million students attend schools with no water within walking distance; 6.6 million students attend schools without toilets; and only approximately 10 percent of primary schools and around one-third of secondary schools have recreational facilities. Moreover, the South African Statistics Income and Expenditure Survey from 1995 showed that the poverty rate for Africans was slightly above 60 percent compared to 1 percent for Whites; 60 percent of female-headed households fell under the poverty line compared to around 30 percent of male-headed households; and the poverty rate in rural areas was roughly 70 percent compared to almost 30 percent in urban areas. For more on this, see Helle Christiansen Cawthra, Andrea Helman-Smith, and Dudley Moloi, ``Political Developments in South Africa in 1999 and 2000,'' Development Update: Quarterly Journal of the South African National NGO Coalition and INTERFUND 3, no. 3 (2001): 80. 37. Maxine Greene, Releasing the Imagination: Essays on Education, the Arts and Social Change (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995), 16, 19. 38. Ibid., 186.

338

E D U C AT I O N A L

THEORY

VOLUME 55 j NUMBER 3 j 2005

In developing a space that allows one to enter the lived world of the other, Greene is calling for a community of teachers and students who are questioning and searching for possibilities of social justice and equality; she is demanding that we act upon values too often taken for granted and imagine a world in which social justice and equality can flourish.39 This type of imagining creates the potential for realizing a genuine civic reconciliation -- something Arendt defined as action that brings under control our anger, hurt, threats, and resentment toward the other due to wrongs perpetrated against us (HC, 220). Imaginative action provides a way for teachers and students to connect with the lives of others who might be ``suffering'' without requiring that they must actually take part in the ``suffering'' other people experience. Thus an approach to education that emphasizes imaginative action enhances the potential for achieving true civic reconciliation, both because it sets the more realistic goal of connecting with rather than participating in others' suffering and because it acknowledges openly the anger, hurt, and threats experienced by the other. This approach assumes, for example, that privileged White students who can imagine what it means for others to be taught in overcrowded classrooms are in a position to recognize this as a problem and to do something about the learning of such students, thus promoting civic reconciliation -- they actively participate in the quest to achieve social justice and equality.40 Focusing on imaginative action in education may pave the way to a more expansive theory of democratic citizenship education. Several other characteristics of an education grounded in compassionate and imaginative action should be noted as well. Such an education must be multicultural in nature. This involves imparting to students a rudimentary understanding of the histories and cultures of many different people, including major religious and cultural groups, as well as marginalized ethnic, racial, and social majorities and sexual minorities. Awareness of cultural difference is necessary in order to engender respect for one another, and mutual respect is an essential underpinning for compassionate action. Moreover, the focus on compassionate action needs to begin early. As soon as students engage in storytelling, they can tell stories about other nations and countries. Certainly, South African students could learn that religions other than Christianity exist and that people have different traditions, beliefs, and ways of thinking. For instance, one theme in the life orientation curriculum for South African primary school children could involve teaching them African myths and folktales and educating them about the injustices perpetrated against Africans. With this training, they should be well equipped to deal with demanding courses on human diversity outside the dominant Western traditions by the time they reach university. The goals of such a theme could be threefold: to develop in students a sense of informed, compassionate action as they enter the broader South African society, which

39. Ibid., 186­187. 40. In Cape Town's Hout Bay district, students at a previously advantaged White school actually considered erecting classrooms on their vacant sports field to accommodate other students who had been subjected to overcrowded classrooms in a neighboring disadvantaged Colored school. Although not without its conflicts and tensions, this decision (if implemented) would go some way toward promoting civic reconciliation among Hout Bay Whites and Coloreds who had previously been segregated by apartheid laws.

WAGHID

Action as an Educational Virtue

339

is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, social class, and religious sectarianism; to provide students with an intellectual awareness of the causes and effects of structured inequalities and exclusion based on prejudice in South African society; and to expand students' ability to think critically about controversial issues that stem from the gender, race, class, ethnic, and religious differences that pervade South African society. Nussbaum supports such an approach to education:

Our pupils must learn to appreciate the diversity of circumstances in which human beings struggle for flourishing; this means not just learning some facts about classes, races, nationalities, [and] sexual orientations other than [their] own, but being drawn into those lives through the imagination, becoming [participants] in those struggles (UT, 432).

Using Greene's analysis as a starting point once again, I want to extend this idea of imagining becoming a participant in the struggles of others. I previously pointed out some limitations of democratic citizenship education theory as conceived by Habermas and Young, respectively, in their work on dialogical action. I noted that Habermas's conception of democratic citizenship assumes that all persons are autonomous and capable of rationally articulating persuasive arguments in public deliberations. I also showed how Young's moments of deliberative engagement (greeting, rhetoric, and narrative) do not necessarily imply that students would be more equipped to recognize the inner voices of others. These limitations of democratic citizenship education theory hamper the promotion of civic reconciliation, particularly if civic reconciliation requires that students be able to imagine themselves as participants in the struggles of others. My point here is that education for democratic citizenship requires that students both be convincing in what they say and have the capacity to recognize others' inner voices -- their feelings of despair, suffering, and oppression. It would be difficult for White students to comprehend the oppression Black students might have experienced if stories about racial oppression and political prejudice were not convincingly told. Similarly, it would be impossible for Black students to avoid engaging with the inner voices of White students who might not want to be considered as bearing any responsibility for racist discrimination legislated by a past government that favored White minority rule. Finally, as I noted before, imagining being a participant in the struggles of others does not hold much promise in a democratic citizenship education agenda that promotes compassionate action precisely because it advocates the need for one to participate in the suffering of others. Such a goal is unrealistic since it requires ``participation'' in past suffering (for example, in the torture suffered by antiapartheid activists at the hands of a repressive state), which is not possible in a pure sense. Thus understood, compassionate action fails to create the conditions necessary for civic reconciliation because it provides no possibility for people to ``know'' the reasons they must reconcile. Greene's idea of imaginative action compensates for this failing of compassionate action and therefore holds promise for promoting civic reconciliation in South African universities and schools after decades of apartheid rule. According to Greene, imaginative action is a ``coming together'' in which people (in this case, teachers and students) ``engage in dialogues.'' When teachers and students engage

340

E D U C AT I O N A L

THEORY

VOLUME 55 j NUMBER 3 j 2005

imaginatively in dialogues ``they speak with others as passionately and eloquently as we can about justice and caring and love and trust; all we can do is to look into each other's eyes and squeeze each other's hands.''41 I now want to tease out what it means to act in a caring, just, and trustworthy manner in order to make the case for civic reconciliation more compelling through imaginative action.42 First, cultivating care in university classrooms involves not only socializing students with an inherited body of facts and knowledge-constructs about society, human values, and different cultural traditions, but also initiating them into a discourse of critical questioning so that they challenge what they have been taught. Cultivating care requires that university teachers afford students the opportunity to engage critically and reflexively with university texts. In this way, imaginative action becomes a mode of philosophical activity that requires one to engage thoughtfully with the other in an attempt to arrive at independent interpretive (rational) judgments, while at the same time critically evaluating and challenging rival standpoints or articulations.43 On the one hand, engaging thoughtfully involves advancing inquiry from within a particular point of view, preserving and transforming the initial agreements with those who share this point of view. On the other hand, challenging rival standpoints entails both demonstrating what is mistaken in a competing position in the light of one's understanding as well as conceiving and reconceiving one's own point of view against the strongest possible objections to it offered by one's opponents. By implication, deliberative inquiry demands, first, that a text be read in a way that sets out the range of possible interpretations, and identifies and evaluates the presuppositions of this or that particular argument in the text; and, second, that a text be read in a way that questions, challenges, and interprets the reader as much as it does the text. Reading a text in this way is important because it emphasizes that one's reading does not represent the final (conclusive) answer but, rather, a rational (interpretive) judgment that itself must be subjected to critical scrutiny by others who engage in similar intellectual debate free from the imperatives of constrained or unconstrained agreement. This mode of imaginative (dialogical) action has the potential to engender civic reconciliation because acts of caring (such as subjecting interpretive judgments to critical scrutiny) can do much to bring people closer to one another, to lay new grounds for understanding, and thus to create the conditions for reconciliation.44

41. Maxine Greene, ``Teaching for Openings: Pedagogy as Dialectic,'' Pedagogy in the Age of Politics, eds. Patricia A. Sullivan and Donna J. Qualley (Urbana, Illinois: NCTE, 1994), 25. 42. I shall limit this discussion to my role as a university teacher of, in this case, preservice teachers in their final year of university training to receive certification as teachers. 43. Alasdair MacIntyre, Three Rival Versions of Modern Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition (London: Duckworth, 1990), 231­232. 44. One of my White colleagues once mentioned in conversation that his Afrikaner parents did not encourage questions about or criticisms of the apartheid education legislation. He noted that, if he had known the ``damage'' a racist, segregationist education system had brought about, he would not have voted for White minority rule. The point I am making is that caring, when it takes the forms of questioning, challenging institutions as well as points of view, and subjecting one's views to critical scrutiny by others, fosters imaginative actions that could expedite civic reconciliation.

WAGHID

Action as an Educational Virtue

341

Second, being a university teacher involves developing the capacity to cultivate in people (students) the ability to listen to what others (fellow students) have to say, no matter how ill-informed or unimportant a particular point of view may seem to them. This point about listening to others is closely related to the need to understand others' reasons and to draw on this understanding to act justly. If we do not listen to others, we cannot begin to comprehend what reasons they have for acting as they do, what might make their actions intelligible to us, and how we might respond to their actions in a way that they will find intelligible.45 In other words, we can only understand others and respond to them in ways that are mutually intelligible if we first take the time to consider ourselves and to justify to others why we find their reasons ``reasonable'' or not. In this way, listening to others could move us toward dialogical action. This process not only helps us become good listeners but also makes us more deliberative in the sense that we become open to revising or abandoning our own reasons in the light of what others (to whom we listen and with whom we engage) have to offer.46 Alasdair MacIntyre argues that ``coming to know'' involves not just evaluating our own reasons as better or worse, but also detaching ourselves from the immediacy of our own desires in order to ``imagine alternative realistic futures'' through engaging collegially (dialogically) -- or, I would say, listening justly to what others have to say. To listen justly would go a long way in promoting civic reconciliation for the reason that reconciliation requires that we do not enter the dialogue with set and preconceived ideas about the past and present; instead, what grows out of the dialogue should offer possibilities for people to reconcile. For instance, a university student does not enter into dialogue with others to run them down for injustices her parents might have experienced; rather, she enters the dialogue in order to look for ways to avoid repeating the injustices of the past and for ways to imagine the future anew.47 Finally, acting in a trustworthy manner in a university classroom that includes many students who are not necessarily familiar with formal rules of dialogue and logical reasoning requires that one not in any way exclude these students from engaging with one another. The primary aim of avoiding excessive structure in the first place is to minimize the chance that eloquent and articulate voices will marginalize or silence the legitimate voices of all people engaged in dialogical action. To give a specific example, African students should be able to tell their stories about what constitutes the good life whether these stories take the form of myth, religious parable, or genealogical anecdote. Dialogical actions usually take the following form: one participant listens to the other and, after having been persuaded

45. Alasdair MacIntyre, Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues (Chicago: Open Court, 1999), 14. 46. Ibid., 91. 47. For example, I remember one case in which a White undergraduate student became agitated in class about a Black student's presentation regarding the racial prejudice her elder sister experienced while studying at a White Afrikaans-speaking university. In telling this story, the Black student seemed to be deliberately attempting to provoke her classmates, without recognizing that the White students in her current class were not responsible for the discrimination her sister had experienced. Such interactions preclude the possibility of imagining a different future and work against civic reconciliation.

342

E D U C AT I O N A L

THEORY

VOLUME 55 j NUMBER 3 j 2005

or not by the other's analysis, offers a response either in defense of another point of view or simply dismisses (usually argumentatively) what the other had to say. But if we really want to allow others to tell their own stories, we must not require them to fit their tales into the conventional structure of a formal response, because this very structure may constrain the meanings they intend their stories to reveal. Often students in my master's seminars, most of whom come from Southern African countries such as Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, remind me that excessive logical reasoning does not always fit well with their articulations of a variety of religious, genealogical, mythic, and proverbial arguments and claims. For this reason, subjecting their philosophical positions to excessive logical reasoning undermines and distorts the stories they have to tell. In other words, simply subjecting the stories African students tell to excessive logical reasoning, which in many ways evaluates the stories, discourages the telling of these stories and thus thwarts efforts to build trust in the university classroom. And, if trust is undermined, there is no chance of civic reconciliation because such reconciliation requires that trust be established between speaker and listener (in this instance, teacher and student). In this essay I have tried to show that compassionate and imaginative action enable us to extend some of the fundamental dimensions of democratic citizenship education, specifically by reshaping our understanding of deliberative argumentation and our recognition of what is other and different. I have argued that efforts to cultivate democratic citizenship in schools and universities cannot focus simply on teaching students conventional modes of deliberative argumentation and sensitivity to difference and otherness. I suggest that students should also be taught what it means to act with compassion and imagination because such action has the potential to promote civic reconciliation, which is essential to building relations of care, justice, and trust in university and school dialogical actions. Ultimately, such an approach may yield a different, and more promising, agenda for democratic citizenship education.

I THANK THE REVIEWERS for their suggestions to improve the manuscript. A special thanks also to Nicholas Burbules for making valuable comments on improving the effectiveness of the manuscript.

Information

edth_6 323..342

21 pages

Find more like this

Report File (DMCA)

Our content is added by our users. We aim to remove reported files within 1 working day. Please use this link to notify us:

Report this file as copyright or inappropriate

640387

You might also be interested in

BETA
Microsoft Word - EDFU-SimonsProof_1juni_.doc
Microsoft Word - null_TeachingCitizensandNoncitizensDraftII.doc
Microsoft Word - Civic Education_final.doc
Microsoft Word - The White Paper _Revised_ February 28, 2007.doc