Jane Addams’s Democracy and Social Ethics is a fascinating book. Although it was written in 1902, it has a surprising relevance for today.
A major contribution to philosophy, the book develops a theory of social ethics, which extends classical theories oriented toward individual virtues and actions. For social policy it offers ways to think about issues such as racism, immigration, economic injustice, democracy, and social improvement. The abstract ideas are linked to Addams’s own concrete work with Hull-House in Chicago.
Unfortunately, her work is not nearly as well known within the US as it should be. Speakers of languages other than English rarely encounter her work.
Bernard Jung and Céline Jung have gone a long way to remedy that situation, with a translation of Democracy and Social Ethics into French. It has just been issued by Editions Raison et Passions (Dijon, France) as Démocratie et éthique sociale. Céline and I added an introduction discussing the relevance of the book to France and French readers today.
It’s nice to have some good news coming out of the Middle East these days. In a low-key way, this video, Fark Yaratanlar – ÇABA-ÇAM (Difference Makers), shows what people can do to help build a better world. It’s from Ebru Aktan Acar, a colleague in Turkey.
The ÇABA Multi-Objective Early Childhood Education Center makes a difference for the lives of young children, for their parents, and for future teachers. It especially addresses the needs of low-income families, including refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Students in the university education program volunteer to work with the children, many of whom have suffered greatly from poverty and war. Most of those children would otherwise have little access to early education.
The Center is affiliated with Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University. Preschool teacher candidates conducted neighborhood-based surveys and co-designed a model to expand early childhood education while transforming their own training into practice. The first class opened in 2008. The program now offers a model that anyone could use and values that ought to remind all of us of how we could better interact with one another.
I was fortunate to interact with the children and teachers at ÇABA on several trips to Turkey. I also wrote a chapter for Ebru’s forthcoming book, Early Childhood Education: Major Themes: Ideas, Models, and Approaches. My contribution is about the work of Jane Addams. Although Addams is not generally listed among early childhood educators, such as Montessori or Froebel, Ebru recognized that Addams’s social justice agenda was key to a project like this, which conceives early childhood as holistic and community-based.