Education about living in society and in the world is a vital task of schools. Yet such civic education is not always critically examined, and few among us have been encouraged to reflect on our civic education experiences. Around the world, one’s civic education most often looks like a black box. How it works is unclear. When human harm, violence, and oppression can be seen in a wide variety of contexts, it is worth critically examining civic education. Could it be that civic education is not playing a helpful role in society? Can it be done differently and better? As one reflects on the contemporary social world, it is helpful to examine the assumptions surrounding education for living together, to think about current modes and possible alternatives. Otherwise, one might end up promoting allegiance to civic and partisan entities which are themselves black boxes (the ‘nation’, the ‘people’), failing to notice when and how what goes on in civic education is morally questionable.
This book aims to elucidate some of the black box of civic education, and focuses on some of its main operations across contexts. Offering a new framework for students and academics, this book questions existing thinking and shifts the focus of attention from the right balance to strike between local, national, and global allegiances to the more fundamental question of what counts as ‘local’, ‘national’, and ‘global’, and what might be involved in cultivating allegiances to them. It looks at allegiance to not just transnational but also sub-global ‘civilisations’ and it problematises the notion of the ‘local community’ in new ways.
This book is the 2020 AESA Critics' Choice Book Award Winner.
Liz Jackson is an Associate Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Hong Kong. She is President of the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia and Director of the Comparative Education Research Centre at the University of Hong Kong.
‘Questioning Allegiance is a capacious examination of the role of education in helping people to live together well in multiple spatial and geographical contexts. Jackson makes a finely wrought, crucial contribution for our ambivalent ever-localizing and ever-globalizing time.’ – Cris Mayo, Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies, West Virginia University, USA.
‘In her new book Questioning Allegiance philosopher Liz Jackson attempts to relocate civic education (the subtitle), arguing that most social learning about global issues already takes place outside the school and programs of civic education. Jackson explores how young people are learning about themselves and how to live together in different and sometimes competing overlapping contexts from the local to the global. She explores the implications for a different conception for civic education and for curriculum and teaching. A revealing analysis and useful book that is highly recommended.’ – Michael A. Peters, Distinguished Professor of Education, Beijing Normal University, China.
‘Jackson’s book is a major contribution to the theoretical literature on civic education. Her impressive breadth of scholarship and her personal experience of education on several different continents shine through the text. Her position on education for allegiance is carefully worked out, persuasively argued and boldly expressed: it invites civic educators around the world to think again about what they are trying to achieve. It has another quality too, one that is all too rare in educational theory and yet of the first importance for the improvement of educational practice: it is unassailably correct.’ – Michael Hand, Professor of Philosophy of Education, University of Birmingham, UK.