Polis-ing English for academic purposes: thinking with Hannah Arendt about education and politics
Elloway, Anthony Ernest
The aim of this thesis is to offer a re-reading of some aspects of my professional context, the teaching of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at the University of Edinburgh, in light of my reading of the work of the twentieth-century political theorist Hannah Arendt. In considering the relevance of her work to EAP, I draw attention both to the uniqueness of her thinking on education and politics as well as to the uniqueness of her understanding of their relation to one another. While Arendt’s ideas have not heretofore been discussed in reference to this field, I find in her work the resources to consider anew how and why EAP might have a role to play in the political education of English-learning international students. The thesis proceeds on the basis of exploration (of the work of Arendt) and application (to the field of EAP). In the first chapter, I set out the three contexts for the writing of the thesis: my personal life and interests; the professional context of EAP; and my intellectual interest in Arendt. This is followed by an exploration over two chapters of some of the key ideas of Arendt, with Chapter 2 focusing on Arendt and education and Chapter 3 on Arendt and politics. In Chapter 4, I return to the subject of EAP and seek to apply to it some of these ideas. My reconsideration of the pedagogic purposes of EAP results in an understanding of EAP that differs in significant ways from that articulated by the two main contemporary approaches to the subject (pragmatic EAP and critical EAP). I present EAP as a radical conservative endeavour that has a distinctively important role to play in the political education of its international participants. Implications for practice centre on the EAP classroom conceptualised as a kind of miniature polis for international students, that is, as an educative space for budding citizens to develop their political skills and abilities for possible future political participation beyond the classroom.