School of Education

Second International Research Handbook on Values Education and Student Wellbeing

This new book:

  • brings together research and practice of global scholars and practitioners in the field
  • provides a standard reference for practitioners and students

  • discusses issues such as reconciliation, gender equity, equity, bullying, and consent

Director of Postgraduate Research, Professor Dalene Swanson, has contributed to the book with a chapter titled: Re-Valuing the Shadows: Reimagining Possibilities for Alternative Futures through/with an Agentifying Education for a Planet in Crisis.


The last decade has seen distinct ideological shifts in particular geopolitical contexts and in global/local relations across the globe, with increasing instability witnessed in social, political, ecological, material, and economic systems. Efforts to advocate for democracy and justice of various kinds have become increasingly harder despite some celebrated wins. Yet, across the globe, there are simultaneously emerging sites of resistance and repair and courageous moves by individuals and collectives to seek alternatives to dystopias in the present and on the horizon. What is becoming self-evident, however, is that conventional education systems and institutions are still locked in modes of operation that do not reflect, are not responsive to, and are not up to the task of the intertwined global challenges we face in this historical present. Even more concerning is that educational institutions and discourses themselves project values, commitments, and advocacies that, in the main, are either too shallow, instrumental, or technocratic, or indeed are out of alignment with the complexly interconnected realities and urgencies we face. Likewise, curricula, pedagogical practices, institutional structures, and measurement and assessment regimes reflect wide-scale failure in living up to the purposes and promises of education in its role to enable reimagined possibilities of a world of justice, decency, and ethical relationalities.

This chapter revisits the original chapter of 2010 – Value in Shadows: A Critical Contribution to Values Education in our Times. In dialogue with that historical moment in which the 2010 chapter was written, I ask now what might have shifted, what might still be relevant, and what might need new emphasis. I therefore ask what might need to change in our conception of Education in the context of a world gripped by interconnected, catalytic crises. The contradictions borne by the politics of crisis need further interrogation. This call is happening in consonance with the call to address increasing ideological polarizations, the rise of authoritarian democracies, and a planet facing an increasingly apocalyptic future under climate change. Such competing discourses have implications for how contradictory values operationalized in “Education” may not be suited to the task of a “transformative” response to the grip of complex crises that our planet is facing. Certain questions might underpin advocacies for a values-led responsive educational praxis: What role is there for revaluing curriculum, pedagogy, and educational praxis toward reimagining alternative, hopeful futures in which all may thrive? What can decoloniality, indigeneity, and posthumanist ecologies offer as means of creating agentive spaces for such reimaginings, and what actions might be necessary to enable education for futures beyond dystopias? In other terms, how might we “work the shadows” to remake “the possible” and engage “radical hope”?

The chapter asks what “good education” might look like as a contribution to a debate with Values Education that demands of it openness, self-critique, and a commitment to plurality and complexity. It offers as one alternative to contemporary educational practice driven by economic development, the Southern African ethico-onto-epistemology of Ubuntu. The intention is not to supplant one dominating, singularizing vision with another but to offer an agentifying space of possibility to reimagine radically hopeful futures. Values Education has a role to play in this dialogic endeavor of “walking alongside” while reimagining Education.

Please visit the publisher's website for more information.

Posted on Monday 27th November 2023

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