Becoming public: Public pedagogy, citizenship and the public sphere

Biesta, G.

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Biesta, G. (2012). Becoming public: public pedagogy, citizenship and the public sphere. Social & Cultural Geography, 13(7), 683–697.

Arendt , Citizenship , Education , Identity , Public Pedagogy , Public Sphere

This paper explores the question what kind of educational work can be done in attempts to reclaim or reinvigorate the public sphere. Through a discussion of the intersection of public sphere and public space, it engages with the work of Hannah Arendt in order to outline a conception of the public sphere as a space for civic action based on distance and the conservation of a degree strangeness rather than on commonality and common identity. The discussion of the educational work that can be done to support the public quality of common spaces and places focuses on three interpretations of the idea of public pedagogy: that of public pedagogy as a pedagogy for the public, that of public pedagogy as a pedagogy of the public and that of public pedagogy as the enactment of a concern for the public quality of human togetherness. The latter form of public pedagogy neither teaches nor erases the political by bringing it under a regime of learning, but rather opens up the possibility for forms of human togetherness through which freedom can appear, that is forms of human togetherness which contribute to the ‘becoming public’ of spaces and places.

Main finding
In this paper, public space is understood through Hannah Arendt's notion of freedom as an act of becoming (not sovereign) and of collective action, in concert, in terms of how it exists among the presence of innumerable perspectives. The author argues that an understanding of the public sphere - as human togetherness - is to suggest the creation of a public sphere that is an act of becoming (ie. an act of becoming public). The author identifies three ways to think of public pedagogy, as: for the public, of the public, and a public pedagogy whereby actors and events become public. The public pedagogue is not an instructor or facilitator, but rather an interrupter that induces forms of action in space which make it public.

Description of method used in the article
The author explored the idea of a public pedagogy, to understand how education can reinvigorate public space, by drawing on Hannah Arendt's notion of human togetherness and the public sphere as an on-going process 'becoming public'.

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