The Potential of Education for Creating Mutual Trust: Schools as sites for deliberation

Educational Philosophy and Theory 43 (3):236-248 (2011)
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Abstract

Is it possible to look at schools as spaces for encounters? Could schools contribute to a deliberative mode of communication in a manner better suited to our own time and to areas where different cultures meet? Inspired primarily by classical (Dewey) and modern (Habermas) pragmatists, I turn to Seyla Benhabib, posing the question whether she supports the proposition that schools can be sites for deliberative communication. I argue that a school that engages in deliberative communication, with its stress on mutual communication between different moral perspectives, gives universalism a procedurally oriented meaning, serving as an arena for encounters that represents a weak public sphere. An interactive universalism of this kind attaches importance to developing an ability and willingness to reason on the basis of the views of others and to change perspectives. In that respect, the institutional arrangements of schools are potential parts of the political dimension of cosmopolitanism, as well as its moral dimension, in terms of the obligations and responsibilities we develop through our institutions and in our actions as human beings towards one another

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