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On Natality in Our Roots, Routes, and Relations: Reconceiving the “3 R’s” at the Rendezvous of Education, Citizenship, and Globalization

by Molly Quinn - 2011

Background/Context: This essay is a part of a special issue that emerges from a year-long faculty seminar at Teachers College, Columbia University. The seminar’s purpose has been to examine in fresh terms the nexus of globalization, education, and citizenship. Participants come from diverse fields of research and practice, among them art education, comparative education, curriculum and teaching, language studies, philosophy of education, social studies, and technology. They bring to the table different scholarly frameworks drawn from the social sciences and humanities. They accepted invitations to participate because of their respective research interests, all of which touch on education in a globalized world. They were also intrigued by an all-too-rare opportunity to study in seminar conditions with colleagues from different fields, all of whom they might otherwise never interact given the harried conditions of university life today. Participants found the seminar generative in terms of ideas about globalization, education, and citizenship. Participants also appreciated what, for them, became a novel and rich occasion for professional and personal growth.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: Participants also brought to this study together their own subjective experiences of education, citizenship, and globalization, and its nexus as lived in our times. As they acknowledged and shared such stories with each other, they began to experience something new and fresh together, even renewing and refreshing in the face of professional and personal pressures, forces often also felt to be accelerating, dominating, alienating, even dehumanizing. Participants began to describe this nexus itself in terms of the experience of and encounter with something ‘new,’ even perhaps perpetually so. Quinn, locating such subjectivity at the heart of her queries, attempts to explore this relationship to the new, and the stories that are told of it, as inspired by Arendt’s concept of natality, defined as the essence of education, the fact that new beings are ever born into the world.

Conclusions/Recommendations: While eschewing definitive findings, conclusions, or recommendations—rather hoping to cultivate new questions, experiences, and stories of our times, and summon us to renewed responsibility, she undertakes an experiment in reconceiving the ‘3 R’s at the rendezvous of education, citizenship, and globalization: on, and as, natality in our roots, routes and relations. She asks: What new understandings may be born of looking at this nexus anew, as a narration of natality? Is ours a moment of labor, of delivering the new or being delivered up to the new? To the experience of the new, raised to the level of a question? What new stories, and stories of the new, concerning such might we tell? Particularly those that testify to and honor our roots, routes, and relations with hospitality, humanity, and hope? In our context, how do we ever—as our situation now seems to perpetually require—begin again anew? How do we engage and describe such experience faithfully and fruitfully . . . singularly and together? If we consider subjectivity as the subject of globalization, citizenship, and education—the birth of new subjectivity underway at its present nexus, what (re)thinking does such make possible?

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 6, 2011, p. 1214-1236
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16139, Date Accessed: 6/13/2021 1:19:27 AM

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About the Author
  • Molly Quinn
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    MOLLY QUINN is associate professor in the Curriculum & Teaching Department at Teachers College, Columbia University. Presently, she enjoys teaching courses in arts-based pedagogies, elementary social studies, and curriculum theory and design—engaging students dialogically, philosophically, autobiographically, aesthetically, experientially, critically, in the study of curriculum and the art of teaching. The author of Going Out, Not Knowing Whither: Education, the Upward Journey and the Faith of Reason (2001), much of her scholarship, grounded in the field of curriculum studies, engages ‘spiritual’ and philosophical criticism toward embracing a vision of education that cultivates wholeness, beauty, compassion, and social action.
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