The Political Ethics of Bilingual Education

Authored by: Daniel M. Weinstock

Handbook of Philosophy of Education

Print publication date:  October  2022
Online publication date:  October  2022

Print ISBN: 9781032000053
eBook ISBN: 9781003172246
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter addresses the question of how bilingual education can serve or disserve the cause of linguistic justice. It starts with the assumption that there are very strong reasons for children to be educated bilingually, in circumstances where this is possible. It then asks whether there can in certain specific contexts be considerations that defeat that very strong presumption. It considers two such contexts. The first is that of asymmetrical bilingualism, or contexts in which the two languages in which bilingual educational systems purport to educate children differ in terms of their capacity to attract speakers. The second is that of “nation-building,” or contexts in which it is deemed important that a single language establish itself firmly across an entire territory. The chapter argues that, in some contexts, there are valid moral considerations that tell in favor of unilingual education, even where the empirical conditions exist for bilingual education. In many contexts, however, the considerations that are put forward do not pass ethical muster.

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