Abstract

The beginning of the 21st century has posed numerous challenges for the global population, including the growth of inequality both worldwide and in specific societies. Inequality in access to good education is also increasing. The debate on our understanding of what modern education should be like is broadening. It was this atmosphere of crisis in society and education in the UK after the 2008 global financial and economic downturn that galvanised the search for "critical hope" for the possibility of transforming formal and informal education. For the sake of this hope, representatives of critical pedagogy and popular education have united into a single group (Critical Pedagogy/Popular Education Group). Modernisation of the education system in Ukraine also requires unity of all those interested and involved in the education process. Thus, the UK’s experience is of considerable interest. The possibility and rationale of combining these two areas into a single Critical Pedagogy/Popular Education Group in the UK has so far remained under-researched. The article studies theoretical preconditions and practical consequences of the combination of critical pedagogy and popular education in the UK. It is emphasised that the common basic principles and purpose, even with the background of theoretical debate, create unity in critical conditions, as it has occurred in the United Kingdom. Common for critical pedagogy and popular education are: the orientation towards the student's life experience; confidence in representation of politics in education; resistance against official hierarchies; development of critical thinking; and critical reflection on important subjects of public life with a view to improve it. However, critical pedagogy and popular education cannot be considered as one and the same. Popular education goes beyond the boundaries of traditional educational institutions with the aim of maximum adaptation to the experience of those who are studying. It aims to meet with the learners not only in the field of their experience, but also in the literal sense: in their homes, public spaces, and so on. Representatives of popular education also do not differentiate the positions of the teacher and the student, emphasising that their experience is of equal importance. Thus, popular education is based on a horizontal connection instead of the usual vertical hierarchies in the educational space. The process of popular education should correspond to the following general characteristics: its curriculum should be based on the concrete experience and material interests of people in the communities of resistance and struggle; its methods and practices of teaching are collective and focused on the group unlike individual learning and development; and it tries where possible to promote direct links between education and social actions. Critical pedagogy, like popular education, also focuses on the student's life experiences. Critical pedagogy offers a curriculum which focuses on the study of everyday life, informal and popular culture, historical models of governance, the subjectivity and identity of the individual. Thus, critical pedagogy interprets pedagogical reality as widely as possible, which allows its theorists to unite with popular education in order to solve social and transformational problems through socio-pedagogical practices. Critical Pedagogy / Popular Education Group has united theorists, political activists, artists and people's educators for the sake of progressive education in the purpose of social change. Common to them is the recognition of deep injustice, dehumanization and attacks on human dignity in many areas of life of the founders of the group, and the lives of those who are less privileged than the founders of the group. This group has connected those working in formal educational institutions to others beyond their boundaries. The aim of the group, as the founders emphasise in its program document, is to enable those involved in social transformation and political struggle in formal and informal education to integrate their knowledge, to develop pedagogy of involvement, life and hope in order to break down the barriers between informal and formal education and connect them again to make possible a progressive change; rethink university as a radically democratic social and political institution; change individualised atomisation, instrumental and fatalistic thinking proposed by neoliberalism under the slogan "there is no alternative"; combine activism outside the academic institutions and inside them; combine academic theory and practice in order to improve the world; use the experience of other institutions, movements, and groups with similar views; and develop an independent community of those working for social justice and a sustainable future. We emphasise that the union emerged for the sake of joint actions, while theoretical differences undoubtedly remain. In the opinion of the group's founders, a number of issues are still subject to debate. Among them is the refinement of the concept of practice – namely, whether there is a distinction between theory and practice, or whether academic theory, learning and teaching can be considered practices. There is also a need to clarify the understanding of the concept of community in the environment of blurring of face-to-face communities, and whether there is a need to develop a collective action strategy in the absence of community. There is even discussion around the basic vocabulary terms of the group, subversion and transformation. There is debate about the limits of the subversion and transformation of the dominant definitions of education and the forms of institutional power. In our opinion, the long list of discussion points proves that the process of integration was not a simple matter. The task of modernising the education system in Ukraine needs the same broad coalition, in the middle of which there will undoubtedly be a number of controversial theoretical issues. However, the common ground principles and purpose would allow us to unite in critical conditions, as it happened in the UK. The consideration of the theoretical intentions of critical pedagogy and popular education, the clarification of the underlying conditions and the purpose of their unification into a single group in the UK allows us to renew our vision of the place of education in public life.

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