Cultivating humanity or educating the human? Two options for education in the knowledge age

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Abstract

Ever since the idea of the 'knowledge society' came into circulation, there have been discussions about what the term empirically might mean and normatively should mean. In the literature we can find a rather wide spectrum, ranging from a utilitarian interpretation of the knowledge society as a knowledge economy, via a more humanistic conception of the knowledge society as a knowledge sharing society, up to an explicitly political interpretation of the knowledge society as a knowledge democracy. Although in theory there is a wide range of interpretations and manifestations, in practice there has been a strong convergence towards the idea of the knowledge society as a knowledge economy. On this interpretation the particular task for education is seen as that of the production of flexible lifelong learners who are able to adjust and adapt to the ever-changing conditions of global capitalism. In this paper I raise the question how we might conceive of the educational task in light of the particular expectations that come from such an interpretation of the knowledge society. Against the idea that an adequate response requires that educators focus on the cultivation of the human being's humanity, I challenge the humanistic underpinnings of the idea of education as cultivation. Instead, I suggest a different direction that moves the educational task away from the cultivation of the self towards the exposure towards the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalAsia Pacific Education Review
Volume15
Issue number1
Early online date30 Nov 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014

Keywords

  • Cultivation
  • Humanism
  • Humanism of the other
  • Knowledge economy
  • Knowledge society
  • Levinas
  • Nussbaum

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