An archetypal phenomenology of SkholÉ

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In this essay David Kennedy argues that children represent one vanguard of an emergent shift in Western subjectivity, and that adult–child dialogue, especially in the context of schooling, is a key locus for the epistemological change that implies. Following Herbert Marcuse’s invocation of a “new sensibility,” Kennedy argues that the evolutionary phenomenon of neoteny — the long formative period of human childhood and the paedomorphic character of humans across the life cycle — makes of the adult–child collective of school a primary site for the reconstruction of belief. After exploring child–adult dialogue more broadly as a form of dialectical interaction between what John Dewey called “impulse” and “habit,” Kennedy identifies three key dimensions of dialogic schooling, all of which are grounded in a fourth: the form of dialogical group discourse called community of philosophical inquiry (CPI), which is based on the problematization and reconstruction of concepts through critical argumentation. As a discourse model, CPI grounds practice in all of the dialogic school’s emergent curricular spaces, whether science or mathematics, whether literature, art, or philosophy. Second, CPI opens a functional space for shared decision making and collaborative governance, making of school an exemplary model of direct democracy. Finally, CPI as a site for the critical interrogation of concepts encountered in the curriculum (such as “alive,” “justice,” “system,” and “biosphere”) and as a site for democratic governance leads naturally to expression in activist projects that model an emergent “new reality principle” through concrete solutions to practical problems on local and global levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-290
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2017


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