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Becoming world-wise: an educational perspective on the rhetorical curriculum

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In this paper I discuss some aspects of recent scholarship on rhetoric and the curriculum, making a distinction between approaches that use insight from rhetoric to analyse formal and informal curricula and approaches that develop programmatic suggestions for the conduct of education. In the paper I deploy an educational perspective which I distinguish from a perspective that sees education mainly as a process of the socialization of individuals into existing social, cultural and political ways of doing and being. I focus on three aspects of the discussion: the conceptions of education that are being used in the discussion and, more specifically, the way in which the rhetorical approach is connected to the ideas of paideia and Bildung; the particular understanding of language in the rhetorical approach to the curriculum; and the question whether the rhetorical curriculum should be understood in terms of empowerment or in terms of emancipation. I argue for a more consistent and more radical adoption of insights from rhetorical scholarship in order to make the rhetorical curriculum more educational and more politically aware. I capture this with the idea of becoming ‘world-wise’ as an alternative for the idea that the rhetorical curriculum should contribute to making students ‘symbol-wise’.
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Keywords: Bildung; curriculum theory; emancipation; paideia; rhetoric

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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