The 'crises in education' : children and counter-modernity in Hegel, Benjamin, Adorno, and Arendt

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

The trajectory of contemporary policy mandates and pedagogical practice demonstrates a strong inclination toward instrumental thinking. Troubling developments have met criticism from a variety of perspectives: psychological, empirical, and political. These are important challenges but an understanding of these diverse policies and practices as manifestations of the ways of thinking and being that characterise modernity allows for a fundamentally different type of critique, one which has the potential to transform those prejudices which support the continuing ascendency of instrumental reason. In the first half of the 20th Century German philosophers led the critique of modernity, which was rooted in the intellectual tradition of Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. The Frankfurt School of Critical Theory and its associates were preeminent. The published work included in this submission explores aspects of the individual theorists related to this school and considers the ways in which they challenge or illuminate current issues concerning the way we think about children and their education. The narrative is primarily a conceptual survey of the themes that connect these papers. It describes the salient features of modernity in relation to knowledge and subjectivity, and the counter-modern thinking that has existed concurrently with modern industrial capitalism. The aspect of counter-modernity that has particular potency for the various studies included in this submission is the notion of child as transgressive, avantgarde, irreverent, and enchanted. The idea of the enchanted child is neither romantic nor belittling, but instead allows for an understanding of childhood as a site of powerful oppositional enchantment that strikes at the modernist roots of instrumental thinking.
Date of Award1 Jul 2010
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorDavid Kirk (Supervisor)

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