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Ethical English Teaching: Learning Democratic Values or Living by the Tao?

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This article begins by drawing attention to the similarities between the aims of critical literacy within English and Education for Democratic Citizenship (EDC). It then considers subscribing to liberal values in the English classrooms of a plural society and concludes that, as political liberalism is unlikely to be universally endorsed, we need to look elsewhere for a ‘centre’ that will hold us together. The essay suggests that the ‘Tao’, elaborated in the seminal work on English teaching, The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis, may represent an ethical code which English teachers and students can endorse, even when they have diverse backgrounds, as it transcends politics. The article concludes that teaching English in the spirit of the Tao is more fundamental than fostering democratic values for it helps to prevent the abolition of our humanity.
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Keywords: C.S. Lewis; Tao; citizenship; democracy; ethics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Education,University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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