Engineer education as citizenship education

In Proceedings of InInternational Symposium on Advances in Technology Education Conference. International Symposium on Advances in Technology Education. pp. 326-331 (2020)
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Engineering and technology aim to lead a better life for people. But the meaning of “better” is highly contested in modern democratic societies where different citizens have different cultures and values. Engineers, as one of the citizens in such societies, are also living in multicultural and multi-value settings, and therefore they need to be responsible for such diversity when they engage in technological developments. Therefore, in engineering education, it is necessary to aim at not only acquiring the specialized technological knowledge but also cultivating citizenship. By citizenship, it refers to a set of abilities to communicate and care for people with respect by taking into account different opinions and expertise of others. Nevertheless, this has not been emphasized much in engineering education in Japan. For example, even in the class of engineering ethics, emphasis is placed more on the acquisition of textbook-based knowledge and virtue of problem cases, and less on abilities to discuss freely and gently. Then, in general education of NIT we have conducted a dialogue-based educational program where learners/students ask questions, listen together and discuss with others. This program is designed based upon so-called Philosophy for/with Children (P4C). Matthew Lipman, one of the founders of P4C, defined the primary aim of P4C as multidimensional- thinking: critical thinking, creative thinking, and caring thinking. In addition, this multidimensional- thinking may, according to many P4C scholars, have a potential of creating active citizenry. The discussion by P4C has three characteristics as follows: 1) People make a circle in the classroom and create a space where students can feel an emotional and intellectual “safety”. 2)Questions being discussed is proposed by students themselves based on their interests, not by teachers 3) Rather than rushing to reach a conclusion, students are asked to concentrate on listening to the differences between each other. This paper begins by explaining what P4C is and why/how P4C is suitable for citizenship education, and then the following sections show our P4C classes in NIT (Tokyo and Ube) and learner's responses. Finally, we claim that the “community of inquiry” created through P4C can prevent the “self- righteousness” of engineers.
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