Biesta distinguishes three functions of education: qualification, socialization and subjectification. We focus on subjectification. When first addressing this concept, Biesta referred to action as defined by Arendt, thereby stressing the importance of ‘the question of freedom’. More recently, the question of freedom (Arendt) is replaced by ‘the question of responsibility’ (Levinas). For Levinas responsibility is related to irreplaceability. While the concept of responsibility is valuable, we question the call upon irreplaceability in education. Actively taking responsibility where irreplaceability might not be either present or felt should be central to education. Unlike the morally clear examples invoked by Biesta, complex societal issues like the climate and refugee crisis are not accessible as an immediate appeal to a specific subject. Therefore, we propose a return to Arendt and her concept of action. Action allows and requires students to create the world anew, to take a position without pretending that the outcome can be controlled. Biesta refers to this as the impossibility of education. However, rather than repeating the theme of impossibility, we focus on the possibilities of education: there are several ways to create the world anew.

Action, Arendt, Biesta, Climate and refugee crisis, Irreplacibility, Levinas, Natility, Philosophy of education, Responsibility, Shared world, Subjectification, Unicity,
Studies in Philosophy and Education
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Noordegraaf-Eelens, L.H.J, & Kloeg, J. (Julien). (2020). Insisting on Action in Education: Students are Unique but not Irreplaceable. Studies in Philosophy and Education. doi:10.1007/s11217-020-09716-x