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In Defence of the Human in Education


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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7 Education for Authenticity, Self-Determination and Autonomy


187 7 Education for Authenticity, Self- Determination and Autonomy When reflecting on education and its tasks, sovereignty and authenticity113 are hard to come by in an increasingly complex world which is shaped by the notion of the ‘human resource’ and the measurable. In this last chapter I wish to focus on education’s ultimate aim: the authentic person who is committed to considered and ethical judgement through a strong foundation of and striving towards knowledge and understanding. The relational aspect of education will be of prime concern as humans are not born in the singular but in the plural and therefore self-determinacy is always seen as being determined by the rights of others as well as my own. Trust, the unique dynamics between teaching and learning bound together by the learning endeavour and the vision of the good are seen as decisive factors in this process of educating towards autonomy. 7.1 The role of trust in human liberal education ‘No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: If you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: If you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.’ (Letter to Lord Lytton, 15 June 1877; in Lady Gwendolen Cecil Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury (1921-32) vol.2. p.153) What Lord Salisbury claimed about the doctors, theologians and the...

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