Policy & Practice - A Development Education Review



Rethinking Critical Approaches to Global and Development Education
Autumn 2018

Guest Editorial: Rethinking Critical Approaches to Global and Development Education

Sharon Stein

For decades, critical approaches to global and development education have pushed back against mainstream liberal – and more recently, neo-liberal – approaches.  Many of these more critical approaches are rooted in the Freirean tradition of critical pedagogy, including several contributions to this Issue 27 of Policy & Practice.  Critical perspectives on education remain more important than ever, and critical pedagogy in particular has fostered fruitful strategies for denaturalising the presumed inevitability of capitalism as an economic system, and resisting its influence on educational systems.  It has also been the subject of feminist, post-colonial, and post-structural engagements that consider its potential limitations and circularities alongside its potentially transformative gifts (e.g. Andreotti, 2016; Ellsworth, 1989; Lather, 1998).  There is much value in reframing and reclaiming critical traditions in order to consider their implications for our own time, as both Cotter and Dillon do in their distinct but complementary contributions to this issue on the history of development education in Ireland, and as McCloskey does in his contribution on the renewed relevance of Marx’s critique of capitalism.

However, rather than debate or advocate the relative merits and limitations of a particular tradition of critique, in my brief editorial introduction to this issue, my intention is to take a step back and consider whether any single arsenal of educational tools – including liberal and critical approaches – can adequately equip us to respond generatively, strategically, and ethically to the complex local and global challenges that we currently face.  Rather than defend a particular perspective or approach to global and development education, I suggest it is crucial that we prepare students with the self-reflexivity, intellectual curiosity, historical memory, and deep sense of responsibility they will need in order to collectively navigate an uncertain future for which there are no clear roadmaps.  This in turn requires that we prepare educators to engage confidently with a range of conflicting perspectives so that they can make critically-informed, socially-accountable pedagogical choices that are responsive to the complex shifting conditions and challenges of their own contexts.

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