Using Arendt to think about ELMA: The vita contemplativa with David Hall, University of Manchester, UK
This chapter examines the issue of the subject, particularly the relationship between thinking, judgement and action. This is important at a time when the impact of the dominance of metrics in securing national standards is one of damage to educational processes, particularly teacher and learner dispositions (Galton 2007, Ravitch 2010a). It seems that the workforce and students are ambivalent about schools, with some abandoning them (Butt and Gunter 2007, Smyth 2011), but signifi cantly it is those who stay and who seem to be accepting of destructive modernisation that need to be addressed. Reports from empirical studies will generate examples of educational professionals who have faced tough situations to think through, and this not only raises questions about decision making but also the rationales provided for those decisions. This can be illuminated by Young-Bruehl and Kohn (2001) where they quote from and analyse what Karl Jaspers wrote to Arendt:
‘what a life you have led, a life given to you and earned by you with a steadfastness that has mastered the evil, the horror that has come from without and ground so many others down’. That is beautifully said and seems almost exactly right. But to ‘master’ that evil, Arendt had to judge for herself not only those who enacted it, but those who suffered it; and in doing so, she found that what ground them all down did not primarily come ‘from without’.