The Journal of Philosophy in Schools recently published a special issue which has a focus of ‘Future Education: Schools and Universities’. The editors, Michael Levine and Laura D’Olimpio, offer the following provocation in their introduction to the issue:
While some may argue that universities are in a state of crisis, others claim that we are living in a post-university era; a time after universities. If there was a battle for the survival of the institution, it is over and done with. The buildings still stand. Students enrol and may (at times) attend lectures, though let’s be clear—most do not. But virtually nothing real remains. What some mistakenly take to be a university is, in actuality, an ‘uncanny’ spectral presence; ‘the nagging presence of an absence … a “spectralized amnesiac modernity with its delusional totalizing systems”’ (Maddern & Adey 2008, p. 292). It is the remains and remnants of the university.
Overstatement? Perhaps. We think many if not most administrators, at all levels, will likely dissent. So too will many if not most teachers and students. Trying to determine whether this is correct, or to what extent, by consulting polls and reading opinion pieces in various education journals and professional papers (e.g. Journal of Higher Education; The Campus Review; Chronicle of Higher Education) is likely to be of little help. In any case, it is the hypothesis (that universities and educational institutions generally are in a state of crisis), along with closely related ones, and concerns about what can be done in the circumstances, that have generated this special issue.
This special issue highlights and illustrates that most of the contested issues regarding educational theory and practice central to how universities and schools should be, and how they should be run, are first and foremost questions of value rather than fact. They are questions regarding what we want, but more importantly what we should want, from our universities and schools; about what they should be and what students, teachers and administrators should be doing to facilitate this.
As the journal is open access all the papers are available and can be accessed via the links below. I have a paper in this issue. I really enjoyed writing a philosophical piece which pulls together some of my concerns about education in a time of big data. Here’s the abstract:
Policy and technological transformation have coalesced to usher in massive changes to educational systems over the past two decades. Teachers’ roles, subjectivities and professional identities have been subject to sweeping changes enabled by sophisticated forms of governance. Simultaneously, students have been recast as ‘learners’; like teachers, learners have become subject to new forms of governance, through technological surveillance and datafication. This paper focuses on the intersection of the metrics driven approach to education and the political as a way to re-think the future of schooling in more explicitly philosophical terms. This exploration starts with a critical examination of constructions of teachers, learners and the digital data-driven educational culture in order to explicate the futures being generated. The trajectory of this future is explored through reference to the techno-educational models currently being developed in Silicon Valley. Drawing on Deleuze’s notion of control societies we contribute to the ongoing philosophical investigation of the datafication of education; a necessary discussion if we are to explore the future implications of schooling in a technologically saturated world. We present consideration of the past, present and future, as three ways of considering alternatives to a datafied education system. Alternative conceptualisations of the future of schooling are possible which offer ways of understanding and politicising what happens when we impose data-driven accountabilities into people’s lives
If you are interested in thinking about the future of schools and universities there are a number of great papers linked by exploration of the future of education:
Michael P Levine, Laura D’Olimpio
Rachel Buchanan, Amy McPherson
Iris Huis in ’t Veld, Michael Nagenborg
Mitch Parsell, Christine Chinchen
Anna Hush, Andy Mason