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This conceptual essay, which opens the special issue, examines why a student’s right to freedom of education – the right for a student to define their own education – is so crucial for the education itself. Four diverse educational approaches are considered: training, closed socialization, open socialization, and critical examination, along with the Bakhtinian dialogic pedagogy to reveal the need for freedom of education within each of the approaches and the pedagogy. The eight aspects of the right to freedom are explicated. Three major objections against the right are considered and rebuked: 1) the Kantian paradox of autonomy and paternalism in education, 2) the paradox of learning and ignorance, and 3) fear of non-participation in education without coercion. The legitimate limitations of the right are discussed. Finally, the two major pathways to the right – radical and gradual – are analyzed.
I sent the earlier draft of the paper to the Dialogic Pedagogy journal community, asking for critical commentaries. Many people submitted their critical commentaries involving their agreements, disagreements, associative readings, extensions, evaluations, and so on. My paper, their commentaries constitute this special, and my reply constitutes this special issue. Three people – David Kirshner, Belkacem TAIEB, and Jim Rietmulder – chose to provide commentaries on the margins. I included most of their comments on the margins as a new genre to promote a critical dialogue in our readers. Also, Belkacem TAIEB and Matthew Shumski submitted short commentaries that I included, below, at the end of this article as Appendix I and II. Jim Cresswell shared the manuscript with his undergraduate psychology students, and one student volunteered to add her commentary. Shelly Price-Jones shared it with her international undergraduate students studying English at a South Korean university. Twenty-one of them chose to provide a video reply. I selected a few of them that attracted my attention. Finally, I chose to address some of the issues brought in the presented critical commentaries either as my reply on the margins or at the end of this special issue. This should not be taken as “the final word” in the debate, but rather a dialogic response inviting other responses in the authors and in the audience.
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