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Enabling children and young people to flourish: The Capabilities Approach and its Aristotelian roots

COCKERILL, MARIA,PAZ (2012) Enabling children and young people to flourish: The Capabilities Approach and its Aristotelian roots. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis argues for the Capabilities Approach in education, based on Aristotelian philosophy, in preference to the performative approach of the present Standards Agenda in education. This agenda confines learning to reaching standardised numerical targets and considers persons predominantly as economic units. Instead, Aristotelian philosophy provides a renewed understanding of realising potential and well-being, thus strengthening education theory and practice.

A particular contribution of the thesis is to make explicit the ethical dimension in education. Importantly, it explains the nature of this dimension and the theory that supports it. The thesis maintains that the basic shared human capacity for care, affiliation, and deliberation forms an essential part of the moral imperative that society must work to realise. It argues that the Capabilities Approach which has already influenced development in economics, health, and social policy, should also influence education.

The Aristotle-inspired Capabilities Approach focuses on the essential role of the capabilities of practical reason and affiliation. It includes a flexible method of reflection which seeks a synthesis between emotion and reason, informed by an ethical framework about what human beings share. The development of these capabilities enables human activity to occur in complex interdependence, promoting deliberated trust and co-operation in society, which in turn supports meaningful discourse, understanding, and positive action between individuals and groups. This thesis argues that education should have a significant role in nurturing these capabilities, to enable children and young people to flourish during their school years and beyond. The ability to plan, monitor, and evaluate learning and life decisions with reference to their well-being requires these capabilities.

Crucially, the Aristotle-inspired Capabilities Approach is inclusive of and sensitive to the needs of vulnerable groups and individuals in society. It redefines our understanding of realising potential which includes an ethical dimension, and offers practical ideas about how education can help young people live a fulfilled life.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Education, Ethics, Capabilities Approach, Aristotle, Reflective Practice, Practical Reason, Affiliation, Well Being, Flourishing.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Sep 2012 09:37

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