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Kizel, A. (2017). “Existing in the world: but whose world—and why not change it?” Childhood and Philosophy, Vol. 13, Number 28, pp. 567 – 577.

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This article takes issue with Gert Biesta’s lecture and the interpretation that one of his main arguments leads to the conclusion that the world is essentialist in nature. Thus, for any specific kind of entity, there is a set of characteristics, all
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  doi: 10.12957/childphilo.2017.29923   childhood & philosophy , rio de janeiro, v. 13, n. 28, set.-dez. 2017, pp. 567-577 issn 1984-5987   existing in the world: but whose world — and why not change it? arie kizel 1  university of haifa; israel abstract This article takes issue with Gert Biesta’s lecture and the interpretation that one of his main arguments leads to the conclusion that the world is essentialist in nature. Thus, for any specific kind of entity, there is a set of characteristics, all of which any entity of that kind must have. I n this text I will argue that existence “in the world” necessarily demands the belief that many other worlds consisting of diverse identities and communities have long been present and should be acknowledged. It also counters the view that children must be taught to adjust to life in the world — i.e., submit and compromise — by fostering philosophical communitie s of inquiry that place children’s doubts and uncertainties at the center of their focus, thereby promoting the possibility of Tikkun Olam  (social justice or the establishment of godly qualities throughout the world) in its broadest sense. All these “compromises” required from the child are cultivated by the “pedagogy of fear.” I submit that, when allowed to do so from a young age, children can engage in three activities: 1) the exercising of their own thinking processes; 2) the development of the will to fight for improvement of things; and 3) the identification of possibilities for change and Tikkun Olam . Children can take part from an early age in philosophical communities of inquiry in which they can think and consider ideas — including those capable of creating their own unique “worlds.” These three activities necessarily forming part of the basis of young children’s understanding of what needs “repairing” in the world. The community of inquiry can cultivate their ability to identify injustice and social wrongs and be ready to actively seek to change society. At the heart of this change lies the potential of philosophy to serve as the driving force behind action and influence rather than as a power dedicated to preserving the status quo. keywords: philosophy with children; gert biesta; pedagogy of fear. existindo no mundo: mas o mundo de quem –  e por que não mudá-lo?  resumo Este artigo discorda da palestra de Gert Biesta, e minha interpretação é de que seu argumento leva à conclusão de que o mundo tem uma essência em sua natureza. Assim, para qualquer tipo de entidade, existem uma série de características, que qualquer entidade deste tipo deveria ter. Por isso, neste texto, defenderei que existência “no mundo” acarreta necessariamente a crença de que muito s outros mundos consistindo em diversas entidades e comunidades estiveram presentes há tempos e devem ser reconhecidos. O texto também se opõe à visão de que crianças devem ser ensinadas a se ajustarem à vida no mundo –  i.e. submeter-se e comprometer-se –  promovendo comunidades de questionamento filosófico que situam as dúvidas e incertezas das crianças no centro de seu foco, promovendo assim o Tikkun Olam  (justiça social ou estabelecimento de qualidades divinas através do mundo) no seu sentido mais amplo. Todos estes “comprometimentos” exigidos das crianças fazem parte da “pedagogia do medo”. O texto defende que a criança –  se a ela é permitido desempenhá-lo desde a tenra 1  Email: akizel@gmail.com  existing in the world: but whose world — and why not change it? 568  childhood & philosophy , rio de janeiro, v. 13, n. 28, set.-dez. 2017, pp. 567-577 issn 1984-5987 idade –  pode se envolver em três atividades: 1) o exercício de seus próprios processos de pensamento; 2) o desenvolvimento de sua vontade de lutar por (melhorar) coisas; e 3) a identificação das possibilidades de mudança e Tikkun Olam . As crianças podem participar, desde a tenra idade, em comunidades de investigação educacionais e filosóficas nas quais possam pensar e considerar ideias –   inclusive aquelas capazes de criar um “mundo” singular delas –, um “mundo de adultos”, se assim for. Estas três atividades necessariamente formam parte da base do entendimento da criança sobre aquilo que nec essita de “reparação” no mundo. A comunidade de investigação pode cultivar sua habilidade para identificar injustiças e faltas sociais, e estar pronta para ativamente buscar mudar a sociedade. No centro desta mudança encontra-se o potencial da filosofia de servir como força motora por trás da ação e influência, em vez de um poder dedicado a preservar o status quo . palavras-chave: filosofia com crianças; gert biesta, pedagogia do medo existiendo en el mundo: pero, ¿el mundo de quién? –  ¿y por qué no cambiarlo? resumen Este artículo está en descuerdo con la intervención de Biesta y mi interpretación es que su argumento lleva a la conclusión de que el mundo tiene una esencia en su naturaleza. Así, para cualquier tipo de entidad, existen una serie de características que cualquier entidad de este tipo debería tener. Por eso en este artículo defenderé que existir “en el mundo” acarrea necesariamente la creencia de que muchos otros mundos que consisten de diversas entidades y comunidades existen desde hace tiempo y deben ser reconocidos. El texto también se opone a la visión de que los niños deben ser enseñados a adaptarse a la vida en el mundo –  i.e. someterse y comprometerse-, promoviendo comunidades de cuestionamiento filosófico que sitúan las dudas y faltas de certezas de los niños en el centro de su atención promoviendo así el Tikkun Olam  (justicia social o establecimiento de cualidades divinas a través del mundo) en su sentido más amplio. Todos estos “compromisos” exigidos a los niños hacen parte de la “pedagogía del miedo”. El texto defiende que los niños –  si les es permitido desempeñarlas desde su más tierna edad- pueden comprometerse en tres actividades: 1) el ejercicio de sus propios procesos de pensamiento, 2) el desarrollo de su voluntad por luchar por (mejorar) las cosas y 3) la identificación de las posibilidades de cambio y Tikkun Olam . Los niños pueden participar, desde edad muy temprana en comunidades de indagación educativas y filosóficas, en las cuales puedan pensar y considerar ideas –  inclusive aquellas capaces de crear un “mundo” propio singular. Estas tres actividades necesariamente forman parte de la base del entendimiento de los niños sobre aquello que necesita ser reparado en el mundo. La comunidad de indagación puede cultivar su habilidad para identificar injusticias y faltas sociales y estar lista para cambiar activamente la sociedad. En el centro de este cambio se encuentra el potencial de la filosofía de servir como fuerza motora por detrás de la acción y la influencia, en vez de ser un poder dedicado a preservar el status quo . palabras clave: filosofía con niños; gert biesta; pedagogía del miedo.  arie kizel   childhood & philosophy , rio de janeiro, v. 13, n. 28, set.-dez. 2017, pp. 567-577 issn 1984-5987 569   existing in the world: but whose world — and why not change it? In his eye-opening remarks at the ICPIC conference (Madrid, June 2017) Prof. Gert Biesta spoke of the importance of existence with and in the world — one of the central ideas he addresses in his Beyond   Learning: Democratic Education for a Human Future  (2006). Herein, he outlined an educational framework devoted not only to “filling  children with answers but making space for asking questions, asking better questions and asking questions better.” He also spoke of his concern — if we may term it thus —that thought is frequently “in the head,” thus “feeding thinking but not reaching the heart or touching the soul.”  In this light, he seeks to challenge the link between thinking “in the head” and Philosophy with Children ’s ability to reach hearts and touch souls. Believing that people “come together in schools,” he is worried — rightly so, in my opinion — about the dangers of living in an idea of (or about) the world rather in the actual world. As he puts it: “Education is not about learning but about coming to exist in and with the world as subject. ”  His concern relates to two approaches — child-centred and curriculum-centred education. In place of these, he proposes a world-centred approach. In his view, the key confrontation today — as has been the case for many years already — is between the world and the apprehension (or fear, if you will) that the child as subject (and as student) will place him or herself at the centre of the world, later on also putting the status of teachers at risk. Regarding being in the world — acting rightly within it — as being predicated up on a “non -ego-logical way of being, ” it seems that he favours the world over the child, the teacher (or adult) over the pupil. Although he states in his book that “Education is [ … ] not exclusively the servant of the existing order” ( BIESTA, 2006, p. 2), in his presentation he championed, albei t implicitly, what I call the “compromising child”— in the sense of “giving in”   or “giving up.”  What should children “give up ”? Their ability to see the emperor’s “new clothes,” t he injustice prevailing within the world, the power struggles and  existing in the world: but whose world — and why not change it? 570  childhood & philosophy , rio de janeiro, v. 13, n. 28, set.-dez. 2017, pp. 567-577 issn 1984-5987 hegemonic forces that determine their identities from a young age, the proper “home” for them? All these “compromises” form part of what I refer to as the “ pedagogy of fear. ”  (KIZEL, 2016a) Relating to the concept of childhood, the child, and the rationale for education and practices pertaining to the pedagogy of upbringing, this is founded on the belief that the child constitutes a potential educational — generally psychological problem — that must be diagnosed, defended, assisted, and, of course, “promoted , ” aided , and abetted. The pedagogic position that currently still dominates educational schooling discourse is based on two vertices that influence and support one another: •   The child as “not - knower”: children are essentially young people without knowledge whom the education system can better by informing them and inculcating in them values so that they become “knowing”— i.e., gain intellectual knowledge and know how to behave. During childhood, pupils are “candidate s for the world ”   —   “not yet fit  to the world ”  because not autonomous or capable of guiding and directing their lives in a relatively independent fashion (Lipman, 1991). Some educational systems thus contain a double discourse —an external one that discusses the belief in the child’s capabilities (some of which correspond to the educational structure) and an internal one based on the belief that, children not yet being “ ready, ” school is the place in which they achieve maturation.   •   The “ demand ”  model as the pedagogic foundation of the educational system. Here, the school is perceived as the ideal place for learning —a “study hall,” if you like. According to this logic, this sacred hall of learning, which possesses objective status, affords optimal teaching-learning processes to be conducted in a professional educational language that bestows upon them a high degree of social legitimacy. On the basis of this view, the school possesses the right to demand at any and all times that the young student meet the standards set by adults and gain measurable achievements as a way of preparing to enter adult life as a fit and mature person. In many respects, students thus swim in a sea of demands and commands.  arie kizel   childhood & philosophy , rio de janeiro, v. 13, n. 28, set.-dez. 2017, pp. 567-577 issn 1984-5987 571   In line with these axes, teachers (as the representatives of “ the right order,” which is by definition “adult order” ) view themselves as lifeguards responsible for protecting the children from the world outside the classroom walls. They are thus charged with a sacred task. This terminology is employed in such programmes as “No child left behind,” “War on poverty,” “Teach for America,” and “Knowledge is Power Program”— all of which draw some of their educational ideology from the same pedagogical source. In my view, like Biesta these educators have a real concern for the child, thus requiring him or her to fit into the world — to be a “fitter - iner,” to coin another phrase. Irrespective of how easy and comfortable this “fitting - in” is— without too much objection — it has little power to change, the child merely needing a priori  to accept the rules of the game and discourse and the boundaries placed around possibilities. The “ pedagogy of fear ”  stunts the active and vital educational growth of young people, making them passive and dependent upon external disciplinary sources. Under the guise of a living, breathing educational system that seeks progress, fear and apprehension of a conscious and alert life guided by an educational space that enables the philosophical life so necessary for the young person are inculcated. It is thus no wonder that Martin Seligman ) 1995), the founder of the positive psychology school, argues that modern psychology has been co- opted by the “disease” model. According to hi m, we have become preoccupied with correcting what has gone wrong rather than building strength and resilience, especially in children. In its over-enthusiastic adoption of the model of “repairing damage,” the pedagogy of fear views students as in constant need of “re ctification .”  I take issue with this essentialist view of the world as presented by Biesta. In my opinion, the world is human rather than essential. It is thus not just one world but many — a world of multiple identities and narratives, a pluralistic universe of worlds in all their richness and challenges and the dissolution of the general consensus into a ruler of “good” and “bad.” As Jean-François Lyotard observes in The Postmodern Condition  (1979), we do not trust the meta-narrative.
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