Keywords:Autonomy, Agency, Education
The thought that children should be given greater opportunity to participate meaningfully in affairs which concern them and to show their capacity for reasonable measured thoughts and choices has been displayed by many others (COHEN, 1980; FARSON, 1974; KENNEDY, 1992). It has also been suggested than in order to ensure that we are fair to all individuals, regardless of their age, that our primary consideration should be the capacity for decision making and agency. However, whether or not children are indeed capable of this kind of decision-making and developed agency is greatly contested (most notably perhaps by Plato and Aristotle), and so too are the reasons for this. In what follows then, I will examine the ways in which children may be encouraged to gain this kind of agency, and what our role in facilitating this may be. Moreover, I will show that while difficult, it is possible to approach ‘teaching’ young people to become autonomous agents in ways that do not interfere with their agency, either presently or in a future-oriented sense. Establishing this is essential as in order to make authentic choices, and allow for holding individuals responsible for their choices, they must be a result of the deliberation of their own choices, and not some other influence, be that external or internal. Finally, in relation to educative aims as a whole, I will follow Seneca’s statement above: that education should go beyond inculcating only learning and practises that are of immediate use to the institutions in which they are learned.