Capabilities, Values and Education

Peppin Vaughan, Rosie, and Melanie Walker (2010). "Capabilities, Values and Education" Paper presented at the 7th annual conference of the HDCA, 21-23 September 2010, Amman, Jordan.

Recent theorising on capabilities in relation to education has led to the clarification of a number of points: the role of education in human flourishing; how education can diminish capabilities; education lists; and the distinction between capability to participate in education and capabilities gained through education (Walker and Unterhalter, 2007; Vaughan, 2007; Terzi, 2008). This paper is concerned with the centrality of individual values to a capability set, and how education should be understood in relation to this and as such is related to capabilities gained through education. Recently, scholars have called for a focus on how values are formed; it is necessary to provide ‘an analysis of the dynamics of value formation’ (Deneulin forthcoming: 14; Burchardt 2009). In this article, we argue that this is a particularly pertinent theoretical problem for capability theorists working in the domain of education policy. The paper argues that there is a key obstacle to evaluating education policy using the capability approach – the role of values in determining and shaping an individual’s capability set – and proposes a possible solution by conceptualising education as something which may enable an individual to realise and develop their core values and agency goals, rather than something which transmits or reproduces particular values.
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