Apology and Social Harmony: The Pedagogy of Regret

By Jon Austin.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The delivery of formal apologies for harm done to generations of citizens by government policies and practices has provided a spectacular focus for processes of social healing and sustainability to potentially develop and take root. In the Australian context in particular, the notion of Apology has been at the forefront of federal government policies for the term of the current parliament. While the judiciousness, wording and delivery of such Apologies have been the subject of intense debate and disagreement, it would seem that there is a social catharsis benefit that flows from these types of public acts of contrition. The question that arises, however, is how to make such emotional attachment to social healing sustainable - how might the underlying motivational forces be sustained? One possible way is through formal educative means; that is, through the enfleshment of reconciliation plans with genuinely transformative educational work. This paper suggests a number of possible paths for a temporally-located event - an Apology - to become an on-going component of community renewal through schooling.

Keywords: Education, Social Sustainability, Apology, Reconciliation, Critical Pedagogy, Transformative Practice

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.59-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 591.055KB).

Jon Austin

Associate Professor, Digital Ethnography Unit, Centre for Research in Transformative Pedagogies, Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland, TOOWOOMBA, QLD, Australia

Jon Austin is an Associate Professor and member of the Centre for Research in Transformative Pedagogy in the Faculty of Education at the University of Southern Queensland. His current academic and research interests reside broadly within the areas of cultural studies and critical pedagogy: identity & difference; postcolonial and decolonial praxis; and transformative pedagogies. He is the editor and co-author of three books (Culture & Identity 2005, Re-Presenting Education 2006, and Educating for Healthy Communities 2007). His doctoral work was in the area of whiteness and white identity.

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