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The Critical Global Educator: Global Citizenship Education as Sustainable Development

Maureen Ellis

Globalisation, cyborg identities, potentially powerful social media oblige educators to deploy educational tools, toys, texts and technologies for oecumene, global bioethics, political justice for all. Ethical frameworks, moral stance, professional identities depend on and emerge from material resources and social practices; spiralling dialogue to dialectics, critical global educators ‘realise’ Peirce’s (1955) semiotic trinity or semantic triangle. Critical theorists, frequently accused of seeing everything in terms of power (for which diverse disciplines may read energy, light, truth, beauty, faith, capital, at-one-ment, love) align micro to macro, physics to metaphysics, genre to generation, and concrete reality to abstract reasoning.

Published by Routledge in September 2015, ‘The Critical Global Educator: Global Citizenship Education as Sustainable Development’, emphasises the crucial role of theorised passion in chapters entitled ‘Bible to Bibliography: Personal, Professional, Political Efficacy’ and ‘Personal Search to Public Research’. The book is based on my PhD thesis which traced ‘The personal and professional development of the critical global educator’, and which was granted an Unconditional Pass at London University Institute of Education in 2013.

Chapter 1 traces briefly how accompanying my husband in his career with the British Diplomatic Service, my teaching, training, and consultancy assignments resulted in professional disillusion. His retirement, the discovery of conferences on Global Citizenship, and academic complaints that this was not much more than ‘samosas, saris and steelbands’ led me to explore ‘critical global education’. Chapter 2 summarises the challenges and opportunities arising from globalisation, educational technology, and transdisciplinary global issues of Social Justice, Human Rights, Sustainable Development, Conflict Resolution, Diversity.

Nuanced readings beyond personal dilemma require historical perspective.

Critical Realism’s stratified, differentiated reality draws on Vedanta, Buddhist ontology and Taoism’s Yin/yang. Distinguishing particular from singular, Socrates’ soul/virtue, Aristotle’s phronesis/hexis, Bourdieu’s (1998) Practical Reason/habitus, Austin’s (1975) performativity, and Searle’s (1995) constructivism represent self as ‘word made flesh that dwells among us’. In Chapter 3 a Jungian mandala synthesising Critical Realist and Linguistic philosophy (Bakhtin, 1991) merges Critical Theory with psycho- (Jung), socio- (Goffman), recent neuro-, and cognitive-linguistics (Lakoff and Johnson), confirming ‘practivist’ convictions.

Chapter 4 presents Engestrom’s (1987) Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as methodology for a 15-question Interview Schedule, prompting self- and/or negotiated-evaluation of the critical global educator. Interviews ranging from one to two-and-a-half hours, probed the political economy and cultural politics of disciples, disciplines, faculties, and ideology, as sources of individual and institutional integrity.

Findings reveal teachers lacking political literacy, turning to unions only when in distress. Financially constrained international NGOs, their political-economic, legal, multimodal expertise untapped, tangentially engage online cohorts of around 600 teachers, hampered by superficial education/campaigning/ fundraising distinctions. Even teacher educators who ‘know how to do literacy’ report inability, through lack of time and access, to share with teachers the theoretical underpinnings of fractured, fragmented faith in global education. Meanwhile, ‘Universe-cities’, living laboratories, discard the disastrously flawed logic which severs ‘literacy’ and ‘media studies’ from active citizenship/action research (Somekh and Zeichner, 2009, Weber and Duderstadt, 2012).

Theorised modality, successfully integrates thought, word and deed

Sensorial, spatio-temporal, symbolic and material modalities (Jewitt, 2009) embody cultural mores. In an increasingly heteroglossic world, trans-disciplinary Critical Discourse Studies constitutes learner-centred relevance (Sperber and Wilson, 1986). Raising dead texts to life, Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics (Burns and Coffin, 2001) renders mood, mode, models, media and multimodal performance coherent and cohesive. SFL offers (w)holistic intermediators practical strategies to construe and communicate (Habermas, 1984) critical discipleship. Depth hermeneutics authenticates consilience, conscience, consciousness yielding sovereign gold, plain-speaking frank ‘incense’, healing myrrh for global pain (Taylor, 2011).

Incorporating Critical Theory, academics teach students to read the world beyond the word, exposing the archaeology and genealogy of knowledge (Foucault, 1972). These critical ethnographers expand critique to sociology and anthropology, crossing disciplinary, geographical and socio-cultural borders. Crowd-sourcing, digital civic citizenship, NGO participation, service learning, community products and protest marches relate micro-politeness, political correctness, policy, political literacy to macro- politics. Manipulating principled infidelity, establishing international thematic research networks, i-Pedagogy translates personal transformative learning and professional transaction into transformational political capability.

The research yielded four outcomes: a Jungian mandala of philosophical and theoretical foundations for humanitarian education (Chapter 3); a comparison highlighting inadequate government policy guidelines (Chapter 5); data from surveys, focus groups, and face-to-face interviews involving over 500 teacher trainees, teachers, teacher educators, international NGO administrators, and academics (Chapter 6); and eight recommendations (Chapter 7).

Critical insights, analytical tools, practical measures in the face of closing philosophy departments

Focused on symbolic exchange, ‘communities of praxis’ extend text to context, inspiring biography and narrative. Balancing metaphysical and physical criteria, valuing ecology beyond economy, global educators scrutinising metaphor, conveyed meta-reality. Big history, morally ‘careful’ geography, spatio-temporal modality, sustained creativity against a global canvas. Framing material mission while powerfully restoring meta-real vision, critical educere/educare empowered Karmic causality.

The book advocates urgent conceptual deconstruction, expanded definition, refined redefinition. It demonstrates the power of theory, multiple intelligences, synaesthetic literacies deployed for human well-being. Eight recommendations include calls for theorised multimodality, explicit political remit, and funding which stipulates multi-stakeholder, transdisciplinary global citizenship education as sustainable development.

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