Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Teaching & Learning
The study suggests a relationship which exists between Martin Buber's philosophy of mutuality and a humanistic educational mainstreaming. Mandated by parent-initiated legislation, mainstreaming is intended to reduce the isolation of the handicapped by including them as nearly as possible within the larger group in the regular class, and by giving them greater access to educational resources. This becomes problematic even for those handicapped children in nearest physical proximity. Among the obstacles are society's frequent exclusionist response to the different reflected in the school's preference for homogeneity, and the ideas of competition which dominate education.
The literature indicates that mainstreaming in its present stage is largely a one-sided effort to change the handicapped through individual remedial instruction. There is less evidence suggesting a substantial coinciding effort to make the structure of the regular class conducive to their inclusion.
In the introductory chapter, a need is proposed to develop such a structure, to clarify how any child, not only the handicapped, may be educated as an individual by strengthening the bonds of human contact. Once the essential human relational element is defined, special methods and techniques can be brought to serve it. Buber's thought is relevant to this problem, since his concern was for the humanization of the modern institution by means of the growth of mutuality between its members. Therefore, the various aspects of mutuality as indicated in his writings are researched and applied to mainstreaming.
Biographical information reveals Buber’s attentiveness to the phenomena of human difference and communication between the different. Chapter III states that there is a potentiality in all human beings which can be actualized through mutual relation. The components of mutuality, namely, uniqueness, awareness, responsibility, and others are studied. A bond of mutuality exists between two persons engaged in spontaneous communication when they have become "presences," each for the other. It is only when each becomes aware of the other's presence as a whole, and as a unique person of equal worth, and responds as a whole person on that basis, that mutuality can be established. Based on a Jewish w^rld affirming tradition and his philosophical anthropology, Buber attributes to all people the capacity to enter into mutuality. The second basic human relation is the partial and detached perception of the other as an object which can be categorized, used, and even changed.
In the remaining chapters, Buber's evolutionary view of education is presented as a conscious experiment toward equity and humaneness. The greatness of the "genuine teacher" is seen in an Impartial, yet personal involvement with pupils which imbues them with courage and enables a confirming relation to their world. Hence, Buber advocates strong participatory roles for the teacher and child. Kis goal of character education Is fostered in the "community of achievement" founded on mutuality between children in their common learning pursuit. Community provides a sense of belonging, educates to responsibility, and it is the essential bearer of knowledge. The teacher helps pupils to experience their world of people subjectively, and helps them to see the unity behind the diversity of aspects. This presupposes an objectivity which sets limits to biases, an openness to the facts and how they interrelate by which prejudice is replaced with a realistic value judgment. Individual experience is not weakened, rather it is enriched by differing experience. This epistemology links to an openness to humanity, an integrative perception of the world, and an independent "world view."
The conclusions emphasize quality education as generalizable to all students; education as inclusive; education as conscious and willed; education for community; and education for uniqueness defined by awareness and responsible service.
Rath, Dorothy M., "A Philosophy of Mutuality in Martin Buber's Writings--Implications for Mainstreaming" (1980). Theses and Dissertations. 2619.