Education as initiation into social practices : an alternative to liberal education
This thesis aims at examining the possibility of education as initiation into social practices as an alternative to liberal education. To this end, the main arguments run as follows. Firstly, I argue that liberal education, as both the pursuit of rationality and the promotion of personal autonomy, does not give a satisfactory explanation of educational phenomena because of several internal and external criticisms. Both versions of liberal education have limitations for different reasons: in dealing with human practices and practical matters which are raised by vocationalists and in meeting a variety of social or communal demands that are addressed by communitarians, respectively. Secondly, I analyse the notion of 'social practices' as a basis for understanding 'education as initiation into social practices' by examining a conventional conception and some recent influential conceptions. A conventional usage of 'practice' as opposed to 'theory' is inappropriate in terms both of the Greek notion of 'praxis' and of Ryle's 'knowing how' and Wittgenstein's 'language-games', and is also inappropriate from an educational perspective. On the other hand, positively, I establish my conception of social practices as a modified Maclntyrean conception by analysing MacIntyre's conception of 'a practice' in its various dimensions and discussing Miller's and Schatzki's crucial distinctions within social practices. Lastly, I draw the overall picture of 'education as initiation into social practices' by comparing MacIntyre's, Hirst's and Langford's views and by applying them to teaching as education writ small, and I examine its possibility as an alternative to liberal education. I suggest that 'education as initiation into social practices' should be understood in a 'substantial'(prescriptive) sense and, on the basis of this, I tackle curriculum issues and teaching process. I conclude that social practices-based education could be an alternative to liberal education by taking a middle way between liberal education as the pursuit of rationality and as the promotion of personal autonomy.