[iDC] The Aims of Education

Ken Wark warkk at newschool.edu
Thu Sep 8 14:40:55 UTC 2011

Simon Biggs writes that "education should be about facilitating people's creativity and uniqueness. But how do you do this in a mass education system that is part of the foundation of an egalitarian society?" That i think is a central question, or would be, if we were not obliged at the moment, particularly in the United States to defend the idea of education as a public good in the first place. 

Capitalism just doesn't work without a lot of hand-holding from structures partly external to it. One of which is education, which usually has complicated mixed economies, at the heart of which is the gift relation of teaching itself. As Biggs says, "knowledge cannot be orphaned." It is part of a massy, squabbling family of 'relations.' 

But the tendency now is to think of education not as 'the good', but as 'the goods.' Just another product. Its why its now called "learning." As if there weren't at least two parties, in a strange, gift relation to each other: teacher and student. Its a product to invest in to increase your own long-run marketability. Applecare for the soul.

Hence the vicious attacks on teachers. 

Of course, any civilization that attacks teachers is already dead and just doesn't know it. Can't know it, because it has given up on the struggle for self-knowledge. 

Prof. McKenzie Wark
Culture & Media, Eugene Lang College
65 w11th st New York NY 10011 USA

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