Concepts of Learning? Conference of the ESREA Network on Life History and Biography location:University of Roskilde date:1 -4 March 2007
With the research we comment on in this paper, we want to explore the possibility to turn the discourse about citizen learning upside down and to generate insights about democracy as an educational issue in its own right (Biesta, 2004). Schugurensky (2003) speaks of ‘the ontological dimension of citizen learning’ and Johnston (2003) uses the concept of ‘learning through citizenship’. In particular, our research is an attempt to understand citizenship as a narrative practice, in a way that citizens have the power to name and create meaning by finding out how in everyday life they are valuing the issues at stake in society. We take up the definition of Schugurensky about ‘educational spaces’: settings ‘that may or may not have educational purposes but by the nature of interactions that take place’ they become sources of civic and political learning (Schugurensky, 2003, p326). The aspirational dimension of an educational space is then not derived from ‘big’, macro societal trends but from the quality of the discursive interactions between people. Biesta (2004) proposes an educational definition of democracy as the situation in which all human beings can be subjects. In our analysis below we will specify two important dimensions of this cultural citizenship: the possibility to imagine a better future and to tell stories from the plurality of perspectives that it engages.