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Towards an Education for Social Justice

Ethics Applied to Education


Edited By Tony Cotton

This book challenges educators to envisage an education system which sees as its goal a more socially just world. It explores the question of how education, both formal and informal, can positively impact on all pupils’ life chances and life experiences.
The contributors to the book take the view that access to an equitable education for all is a necessary condition for the advancement of social justice; indeed the book argues that social justice cannot be achieved except through education. The authors suggest that it is the responsibility of educators to support the advancement of the millennium development goals including the achievement of universal primary education and the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The authors in this collection explore a range of case studies and offer evidence for the ways in which education has proved detrimental to the advancement of social justice. More importantly they point to ways in which our global education system can be developed to meet the requirements of a socially just society.


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3 Ole Skovsmose: Justice, Foregrounds and Possibilities


Ole Skovsmose 3 Justice, Foregrounds and Possibilities Introduction This chapter relates three notions: justice, foreground, and possibility. I do not see ethical principles as being discovered, but as being constructed, and this also applies to my conception of justice. I understand the foreground of a person as the possibilities the socio-economic situation makes available to him or her. However, I do not consider the foreground to be a social given, but rather something experienced by the person. Furthermore, a foreground includes propensities as well as contingencies. The construction of possibilities can take the format of overall socio-political endeavours; it can be a personal experience and one can see it as an educational task. For an education for social justice, the construction of new possi- bilities for the students is crucial. This construction is directly related to features of students’ foregrounds. I argue that it is necessary to work for an education for social justice in an unjust society and that it is possible to do so through an educational practice that adds new elements to the students’ foreground. But what does social justice mean? What does social justice mean in an unjust society? What does it mean to try to establish an education for social justice, if educational institutions serve important functions in the regimenting and controlling of people? Such questions point to the paradox of social justice: education for social justice is necessary due to the profound inequality in society; but, at the same time, education for social justice...

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