Rethinking radical education : a conceptual analysis
Stewart, Sandra Lynn
Master of Education
SubjectAlternative education (Evaluation)
Education experimental methods (Evaluation)
MetadataShow full item record
For decades, there have been concerns with the contemporary Western education system. Many parents are choosing home schooling or schools with alternative programs. During this period, and earlier, reform theorists have proposed answers to society’s concerns about education. Having come to the field of education after working for several years as an early childhood practitioner in an alternative setting, I too began to question the traditional method of schooling. Therefore, through this study, I analyze some of the attributes associated with alternative theories of education in order to re-examine their importance. In particular, I consider the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Ivan Illich, and A.S. Neill, three educational theorists who have been dubbed “radical” in their ideas. In this thesis I discuss three common themes amongst these, and other radical theorists—namely: nature, freedom, and useful knowledge. I believe that these themes have been neglected in contemporary educational discourse. It is true that no theory is without critics. With this in mind, I consider the analysis of Robin Barrow, who, in his book Radical Education: A Critique of Freeschooling and Deschooling, provides a thorough and point by point critique outlining the many problems associated with alternative approaches to education. This thesis re-evaluates the importance of radical education in light of Barrow’s critique. I also discuss why it is important to reconsider the concepts of nature, freedom and useful knowledge, often associated with this theory. In the end, I argue that what is needed is educational reform that probes right down to the roots of the system—radical reform.