1st Edition

In Search of Responsibility as Education Traversing Banal and Radical Terrains

By Hannah Spector Copyright 2023

    Not to be conflated with systems of accountability, this book examines responsibility as a subject of educational inquiry. The author argues that responsibility in its most radical sense is not connected to a higher authority. Rather, responsibility summons the actor to do the right thing when no one else is there to announce what is right; it involves speaking the truth in a world that is increasingly characterized by organized lying and organized irresponsibility.

    The search for responsibility as education is explored through a wide range of issues including: studying the ways in which the bureaucratization of the world undermine ethical consciousness; cultivating the ethical imagination in education which is not only vital to sustaining democracy, but to counteracting indifference to crimes against humanity and crimes against the planet; critiquing the imperial nationalism of a wave of education legislation requiring American schools to provide instruction on genocides and other mass atrocities that take place by ‘others’ and ‘abroad’ but not at ‘home’ or by ‘us’; centralizing a curriculum of common sense in an era marked by a breakdown of common sense and disinformation narratives; and facing a reality that can never be experienced: the end of the human world.

    Reimagining education as an avenue for cultivating personal responsibility and global justice, this text will be of interest to students, scholars, and researchers working in curriculum studies, philosophy of education, educational policy, and teacher education.

    Introduction: Meanings of Responsibility in Context 1. Bureaucracy, Responsibility, and Education 2. The Imagination as Teacher 3. Exceptionally American Visions: On Human Rights and Genocide Education 4. Curriculum of Common Sense in Times of Plague 5. A Responsibility Like No Other Epilogue to Postscript: Mortality: "The Miracle that Saves the World"?


    Hannah Spector is Associate Professor of Education at Penn State University, The Capital College, USA.

    "Hannah Spector’s forceful philosophical inquiry, In Search of Responsibility as Education compels readers to contemplate the meanings and enactment of individual and collective responsibility in an increasingly uncertain and precarious time. Assuming responsibility for the world and others, Spector generates much needed relational, ethical and other-oriented educational forms of thinking towards acting. Resisting abstraction, Spector merges political and education philosophy, in the tradition of Hannah Arendt and Maxine Greene, to re-insert philosophical forms of insight, persuasion, thought into the public sphere characterized by a growing anti-intellectualism infecting contemporary political and social life. This exemplary study of the educational value and potential of responsibility is a must read for educational philosophers, scholars and students of philosophy, teacher educators, and teachers and all those committed to rethinking the role of philosophical thinking towards stewarding the next generation into a more habitable, just, and sustainable world."

    – Aparna Mishra Tarc, Associate Professor, York University, Canada

    "Hannah Spector’s In Search of Responsibility as Education comprises a well-researched and hard-hitting series of essays that unflinchingly explores our responsibility towards pressing contemporary issues in curriculum, most tellingly, genocides and ecocides. At once brooding and prescient, Spector probes the several sides and dimensions of responsibility: a concept frequently invoked yet little understood, especially given a modern, thoroughly bureaucratized society. How is responsibility possible under such conditions? Who shall be responsible for thinking and acting? The book will serve as a powerful instigator of complicated conversations in secondary and post-secondary classrooms within and outside of education."

    – Teresa Strong-Wilson, Associate Professor, McGill University, Canada

    "This a gem of a book by one of North America’s great Arendtian and education scholars. It represents a repository of inspiration for education scholars who think with Arendt on the pressing political issues of our time. Importantly too, Spector’s written words are suffused with Arendt’s horizons of the possible and the recognition that as scholar activists we are all implicated in the act of political responsibility. This book could not be more pertinent at a time when politics, education, and the environment are in crisis."

    – Jo-Anne Dillabough, University of Cambridge, UK