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In Defence of the Human in Education

Series:

Isolde Woolley

The title incorporates the assumption that the ‘human’ in education is being threatened by certain processes. The guiding questions are: What are these processes and what constitutes the ‘human’ in education? Which activities characteristically performed by human beings are so central that they seem definitive of a life that is truly human and which changes or transitions in educational thinking are compatible with the continued existence of a being as a member of human kind and which are not? It is argued that the present debate on education is still dominated by the language of performance and global economic comparison. Educational practice must and will have to help the individual through a confluence of insights in his/her journey through life to form independent judgement.

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1 Preface .......................................................................................................... 11 1.1 Clarification of some central ideas prior to their theoretical employment ............................................................................................... 11 1.2 Biographical positioning ........................................................................... 17 2 On Method .................................................................................................... 23 3 On Theory ..................................................................................................... 35 3.1 Theoretical assumptions of a general substantive nature ......................... 35 3.2 Theoretical assumptions of a pedagogically substantive nature ............... 38 4 The Crisis in Education: What Crisis? ......................................................... 43 4.1 Setting the case .......................................................................................... 43 4.1.1 Our obsession with change and equalization ..................................... 43 4.1.2 Our faith in the scientific ................................................................... 47 4.1.3 Our faith in therapy ............................................................................ 48 4.1.4 Arendt’s ‘new’ understanding of conservatism ................................. 49 4.1.5 Learning and teaching for the ‘beyond’ ............................................. 51 4.1.6 The provisional nature of next practice ............................................. 52 4.1.7 Postmodernism and our difficulty in seeking a moral explanation to education ........................................................................................ 54 4.2 Education: A Contested Idea .................................................................... 56 4.3 The significance of philosophical argument for education ….................. 61 4.3.1 … in our search for the essence of our humanness ............................ 62 4.3.2 … in our search for the ‘human mind’ ............................................... 64 4.3.3 … in our search for theory ................................................................. 66 4.3.4 … in our search for ‘the right kind of knowledge’ ............................ 69 4.4 Educational values and their expression in language ............................... 73 4.4.1 New language – new ways of thinking or ‘not thinking’ .................. 73 4.4.2 The relationship between word and concept ...................................... 74 4.4.3 The changing concept of education through particular wording ....... 76 5 Education: Working towards a Definition with the Human in Mind ........... 85 5.1 An attempt at defining education as an endeavour to further human dialogue within a diverse society .............................................................. 86 5.1.1 Our human need for aims and desirable ends .................................... 86 5.1.2 Aims or goals...

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