Shifts in funding and a worldwide trend towards marketising higher education have led to a new emphasis on the quality of the student experience. In the UK this trend finds its strongest expression in recent policy proposals to simultaneously increase student fees and student choice so that students themselves become the drivers of higher education. We trace the policy developments of this shift over recent years and rehearse some of the criticisms against it. Accepting that there is good reason to (...) support improving the student experience, we then consider ways in which this might be achieved that foreground the relation of university teachers with their subject matter and students’ engagement in this. A higher education, we argue, should expose its students to disciplines whose standards are rightly contested and to a form of learning that intensifies or unsettles desires rather than simply aspiring to satisfy them. (shrink)
This book takes Stanley Cavell's much-quoted, yet enigmatic phrase as the provocation for a series of explorations into themes of education that run throughout his work - through his response to Wittgenstein, Austin and ordinary language ...
This paper examines sections of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations with a view to exposing trail-effects of psychology in educational and social practice today. These are seen in understandings of the relations between mind and body, and language and thought, and their influence is identified in such contemporary preoccupations as accounting transparency and the new science of happiness. A Wittgensteinian critique is offered, with attention paid to the idea that ‘nothing is hidden’. Finally a question is raised as to how far it (...) is the imperviousness of these practices to criticism that is the key to understanding them. (shrink)
J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello is an overtly philosophical novel, at the heart of which are questions concerning the relation of human beings to animals and the discussion of animal rights. The nature of its subject matter and the prominence it gives to dialogue, sometimes of an almost Platonic kind, make it a rich potential resource for moral education. This article begins by imagining a course based on extracts from the novel, intended for teenage students or older people. It goes on (...) to make suggestions for further reading. There is now a rich secondary literature that has developed in response to central elements in Coetzee's text, involving the work of Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Cora Diamond, Stanley Cavell, John McDowell, Cary Wolfe, and Ian Hacking, amongst others. This literature raises questions about the nature of moral philosophy, and it has implications for moral education. (shrink)
In his essay 'The Scandal of Skepticism', Stanley Cavell discusses aspects of the work of Emmanuel Levinas with a view to understanding how 'philosophical and religious ambitions so apparently different' as his own and those of Levinas can have led to 'phenomenological coincidences so precise'. The present paper explores themes of scepticism and alterity as these emerge in the work of these two increasingly influential philosophers. It shows education to be a sustained preoccupation in their work, crucially related to these (...) guiding themes. In the process it seeks to dispel certain assumptions regarding poststructuralism, on the one hand, and the religious implications of Levinas's thought, on the other. This lays the way for an account of the criticality of human being, of the significance of this for community, and of the demands this makes on education. (shrink)
What is the place of philosophy in the study of education? What is its significance for policy and practice? This paper begins by considering the policy and institutional context of the philosophy of education in the UK and by tracing its recent history. It examines both the place of philosophy in Education (as a field of study) and the status and character of the philosophy of education in relation to the 'parent' discipline of philosophy. Rival accounts of the nature of (...) the philosophy of education are outlined, in such a way as to acknowledge the importance of conceptual analytical approaches, but also to stress the value of a wider, more inclusive characterization. In the light of these, examples are offered to illustrate the role the subject must have in the understanding and improvement of educational policy and practice. Reference is primarily to the UK context, but the manner in which fundamental questions are addressed makes clear their much wider relevance and importance. (shrink)
Thoreau’s Walden is a text that has been misinterpreted in various ways, one consequence of which is a failure to appreciate its significance as a perfectionist and visionary text for education. This paper explores aspects of what might be called its teaching, especially via the kind of teaching that is offered by Stanley Cavell’s commentary, The Senses of Walden. Walden is considered especially in the light of its conception of language as the “father-tongue” and of the ideas of continual rebirth (...) and departure that are associated with this. References to teaching and learning abound in the book, but it is Thoreau’s specific reference to the need for “uncommon schools” that provides a focus for the present discussion. (shrink)
Emptiness, indeed nihilism, is a characteristic of so much contemporary discourse regarding morality and moral education. This is found in facile notions of teaching right and wrong but also in the prevalence of rights-talk, with its sacrosanct assumptions about equality. This article examines this discourse in the light of Levinas' account of the primacy of ethics - of my absolute responsibility in the face of the other, of the asymmetry of my relation to the other. It seeks an account of (...) receptivity that releases the ethical from the limitations of moral reasoning. (shrink)
Following Lyotard's death in 1998, this book provides an exploration of the recurrent theme of education in his work. It brings to a wider audience the significance of a body of thought about education that is subtle, profound and still largely unexplored. This book also makes an important contribution to contemporary debates on postmodernism and education.
Difficulties in liberal secularism are considered in relation to the views of ethnic minorities and in terms of the misleading nature of its supposed neutrality and objectivity. Cultural liberalism is seen in contrast to be committed to the preservation of other cultures and to celebrating diversity. This might avoid relativism and, within the Wisdom Tradition, offer a mutual enrichment and better access to truth. The practice of religious education can be seen as implicating the general behaviour of the teacher and (...) the ethos of the school. A postmodernist pedagogy, involving dialogue with text and teacher, might both respect diversity and recover a sense of mystery. Reassessment of the relationship between knowledge and morality might lead to new practice in moral education, with relevant activities leading beyond the facts towards reflection on values. Moral education might also go beyond the intellect to encourage appropriate emotional dispositions in a communicative ethics. The dominance of certain metaphors in the language of cultural identity and authenticity channels thinking: this needs to be questioned. (shrink)