A Socio-Political Understanding of Education and Citizenship: Canadian-Portuguese Youth, Alienation, and the Educational Process

Noémia (Naomi) Couto


My aim in this study is a critique of the logic inherent in functional models of education. Here, I will sketch out a phenomenology of critical thinking, which will help account for both the enthusiastic support of critical thinking courses and the determined opposition to them by certain political and market-place forces. I will argue that education should be more than just learning a skill, or fitting people into an economy. As a representative group to reflect on, recent community discussions on alienation amongst youth of Portuguese ancestry in our contemporary Canadian education process will guide my theoretical investigations of a general loss of self-determination, which produces false consciousness and low self-esteem. These reified states of mind will be analyzed through Marxian and phenomenological categories. I will ask, ‘what is the nature of the relationship between thinking, language, and education’ (as a humanizing process)? This question receives its classical analysis in G. W. F. Hegel’s understanding of ‘moral education.’ More recently, it has been re-stated and re-examined in the writings of Emile Durkheim, Irving Goffman, and Henry Giroux. Each of these thinkers, from the perspective of his conceptual framework, is clarifying the inter-related meanings of thinking, language, and education, in the context of what it means to be a ‘Human Being.’ This leads to an exploration of the socializing and humanizing dimension of the educational process.


moral education; alienation; dramaturgy; critical collective consciousness; Canada

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