Guide Schooling at the Speed of Thought

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After considering that genuine authority would have disappeared from our modern and contemporary world, Arendt asks herself for that in which authority would have changed itself into in our era. In other words, it endeavours a genealogy of the notion of authority, when it distinguishes itself between the legitimate authority, which would have disappeared from our political world, and authoritarianism, that is, the absence of authority in its legitimate character.

Regarding that aspect, the essays "The crisis in education" and "What is authority? The authority was rejected by adults and this can only mean one thing: that the adults refuse to take responsibility for the world in which the children were brought. However, the problem of the crisis in contemporary education also comprehends the consideration of aspects which are more specifically educational.

Written in , "The crisis in education" is the essay in which Arendt calls the attention to the generalized crisis that strikes not only the North American education, but also the western world education:. The general crisis that struck the modern world in every sphere and in almost all life spheres is manifested in each country diversely, involving areas and taking on diverse forms.

In America, one of its most characteristics and suggestive aspects is the recurring crisis in education that has become in the course of the last decade at least, a political issue of the first magnitude, reported on almost daily in the news. Undoubtedly it is not necessary to have great imagination to detect the dangers of an ever increasing decline of elementary standards throughout the entire school system, and the seriousness of the trouble has been properly underlined by the countless unavailing efforts of the educational authorities to stem the tide.

If the crisis in education is part of the political issue of modernity, understood as a crisis of the public world, of authority and tradition amid the "mass society" and its uninterrupted demands, on the other hand is also necessary to observe that this educational crisis has been aggravated with the association between education and psychology, which gave rise to numerous "progressive education" projects, promoting a "radical revolution in the entire educational system" p.

Let see how those two problems are related. Throughout her essay, Arendt argues that the failure of the mediative function that school and education should carry out between the familiar environment and the adult world has been aggravating due to certain pedagogical choices that have oriented the educational projects in the western world during the 20 th century, especially since the early fifties.

Instead of establishing itself as an elemental place of development and formation of the youth and children for the public world of adults, the educational field saw the emerging of pedagogical and psychological methods focused on the child and the youth, who were seen as natural psychic substratum instead of historical, saw themselves alienated in the world they live in, which they need to understand in order to be able to preserve and transform it in the future.


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Arendt is critical when she refers to the pedagogies and pedagogical methods originated from the psychology of the development, which is focused on the idea of the individual and individuality, for she believes these "psy" educational approaches leave aside the indissociable bonds between the man and the world and, therefore, disregard the educational principle of care and responsibility for the world. For the author, the narrow communion between psychology and education tends to be pernicious for education and its purpose, that is, to provide the youth and children with an adequate displacement from the family's private space to the public space of the common good.

Regarding that aspect, Arendt's work takes on a prophetic character, because it denounces a process of alienation in respect to a world that is still ongoing in the field of education. In consonance with the new freedom atmosphere that inspired the United States in the 50s', some European pedagogical discourses that were originatedin the 19th century and in the first decades of the 20th century proliferated like the libertarian pedagogies from the anarcho-sindicalist' ideology, the franc-Geneva's New School, John Dewey's democratic school, besides the new findings of the children's developmental psychology studies Best et al.

Certainly, Hannah Arendt was not contrary to the repudiation of violence and authoritarianism in the school environment. The main and most enlightening aspect of her debate is the one that explains that such discourses and pedagogical practices end by providing elements for the creation of new pedagogical methods that considered the child and the infantile world of the plaything and the children's play as the practically exclusive center and focus of the pedagogical and educational actions.

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In the North-American case, the author points to two main strands, the modern psychology and the pragmatism, as being the ones responsible for a significant part of the education crisis in that country. Arendt argues that the association between pedagogy, pragmatism and psychology transformed education into a field of knowledge about teaching, and thus transforming it into a science of the learning.

Regarding that aspect, she regrets that the importance given to the content to be taught has disappeared. For Arendt , moreover, instead of educating children and youth to take a future action in the public world, such psycho-pedagogical approaches, in the extent that they refuse the teacher's figure of authority and role in the educational process, leave the subjects of education immersed in a generalized infantile process that is extended until adult age.

We have there a dangerous assumption that. Adults are only there to help with this government. In this respect, the author emphatically warns about the risks of such education that leaves children and youth resigned to their own fate, or worse, at the mercy of their own group. With the introduction of the "psy" pedagogies, children and youth saw themselves free from adults' authority because adults consciously stopped wanting to intervene or exert any type of authority over the subjects of education. According to such educational concept, an adult can only tell a child " that he does whatever pleases him and then avoid the worst to happen" p.

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Consequently, children and youth saw themselves subjugated by an even more cruel and terrible authority, the tyrannic authority of the children or adolescent's group. When left to their own luck at school, children are subject to the tyranny of the majority, which represents for the author, an important aspect of the everyday violence in the 20th century. In any case, the result is that the children have so to speak banished from the world of grown-ups. They are either thrown back upon themselves or handed over to the tyranny of their own group, against which, because of its numerical superiority, they cannot flee to any other world because the world of adults is barred to them.

The reaction of the children tends to be either conformism or juvenile delinquency, and is frequently a mixture of both. In questioning the deficiencies of the "psy" pedagogies, Arendt is not limited to pointing its problems from the students' point of view, but also approaches them from the own educators' point of view. Educators are also left to their own luck, once their deficient training from the point of view of the contents, no longer represents a legitimate authority towards the children, and frequently fall back on either authoritarianism or on "moral and emotional rhetoric" p.

Then we have the problem that "under the influence of modern psychology and the tenets of pragmatism, pedagogy has developed into a science of teaching in general in such a way as to be wholly emancipated from the actual material to be taught" p.

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From the moment that pedagogy is conceived as a science of teaching to teach, arises the notion that the teacher can "teach simply anything; his training is in teaching , not in the mastery of any particular subject" p. To these two problems adds a third, pragmatism and its presupposition that it is only possible to know and understand what we have done ourselves. For Arendt , the application of pragmatism to education consisted in replacing the learning with doing or even with the notion of learning by doing, something which is very common to pedagogies that are predicting the need for knowledge building.

The conscious intention of this educational pragmatism was not to teach knowledge, but to inculcate a skill so that in the United States the result was the turn of education institutions into vocational institutions.

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For the author, pragmatism as an educational method is problematic due to its primary presupposition, that is,. The conscious intention was not to teach knowledge but to inculcate a skill, and the result was a kind of transformation of institutes for learning into vocational institutes which have been as successful in teaching how to drive a car or how to use a typewriter or, even more important for the "art" of living, how to get along with other people and to be popular as they have been unable to make the children acquire the normal prerequisites of a standard curriculum.

Arendt distrusts the pragmatic presupposition that every learning is a special form of doing, playing and entertaining, as if knowledge gaining depended exclusively upon those skills, becoming the child itself responsible for the knowledge generation. We can notice there the abandonment of the educational responsibility which, for the author, reflects nothing more than the loss of the adults' responsibility towards the world itself, as they themselves no longer arrogate the role of authority refusing to lead the child into the world, its rules and institutions. In a word, says Arendt The very thing that should prepare the child for the world of adults, the gradually acquired habit of work and of not-playing, is done away with in favour of the autonomy of the world of childhood.

Besides, thinking education as a process of production can have authoritarian implications, as it requires the foresight of the end to be achieved in the future to be ready and done, as well as the use of violent, orthopaedic means, from which the end will be forged.

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The corollary of these three presuppositions is the irresponsibility of educators towards the world and its consequent loss of authority in the educational field, since the authority of the educator is "placed on the responsibility he or she assumes towards this world" p. The resulting problems of those three presuppositions are usually recognizable, in special the poor training of the teachers. However, despite the reformist eagerness always present in the educational discourse of the 20 th century, in a "desperate attempt to reform the entire educational system" p.

Certainly the discourse on the crisis in education is not dated only from the last fifty years, nor does it configure itself as something exclusive of the last decades, a moment in which the theme of educational crisis reached absolute centrality in pedagogical debates. In fact, people have talked about the crisis since the late 19 th century when the scholar institution was consolidating in Europe, despite the fact it was not universalized yet.

Then, in the very moment that began the process of universalisation of the scholar system and its institutions in the United States and Europe, with the development of the first long-range educational policies, the discourse about the crisis in education had been installed as a privileged topos.


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  7. In fact, Michel Foucault's studies allow us to understand that the idea of crisis is present in an intrinsic manner in the own configuration of modern institutions and, consequently, of the own modernity in its own specific form of organization, that is, the disciplinary society of normalization. Not coincidentally, when discussing the problem of institutional crisis, what is expected is the intensification or the restructuring of its own disciplinary practices.

    For Foucault , therefore, the operation of the disciplinary society presupposes a state of permanent crisis, since the application of complex disciplinary mechanisms depends precisely in confirminglack of discipline, that is, crisis. In this paradoxical equation, the crisis is the engine and the fuel for the operation of modern disciplinary society, because discipline is exerted to end with the state of crisis and indiscipline.

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    In the case of Brazilian education, as well as in most Latin American countries, historical studies on education inspired by Foucault's ideas demonstrate the existence of reform cycles preceded by analysis that indicate the crisis in educational systems. The educational reforms are always new attempts to establish a process of governmentality of populations, that is, it represents ways of governing the populations in order to produce a homogeneous population that is obtained in the schooling process Foucault, In numerous processes of education reform throughout the 20 th century, the argument of the crisis has always been fundamental, as Foucault has shown; the requirement to support a disciplinary project depends on its negative counterpart, the crisis.

    Let's see now how the configuration of the binomial "crisis-reform" is delineated in the current crisis in education. It was from the invention of the disciplinarian institutions, which is the historical basis of modern society, that the most important of these institutions arose, the modern school. Just as the emergence of the modern state is the result of the transformation of power structures and its exercise that took place around the 18 th century, maybe now we are experiencing a transformation of great magnitude, both within government and in the educational context Veiga-Neto, Since the nineties of the 20 th century with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the acceleration of the economic globalization process and the hegemony of neoliberalism have observed an abrupt change in the political-institutional world scenario, which seems to suggest that we have begun to stop being modern.

    It means the traditional disciplinary institutions, among them the school, are undergoing profound transformations: on one hand, the disciplinary school is no longer "the" privileged instance for the production of non-subjected and standardized subjects; on the other hand, after undergoing deep changes the school also changes its agency in the new production of contemporary subjectivities.

    After examining the political, economic and institutional transformations that desolated the planet in the last two decades of the 20 th century, Gilles Deleuze stated that the disciplinary society theorized by Foucault began to be replaced by the "society of control"-. That is the proof that the means and apparatus that animated the functioning of the subjects began to give rise to new forms of social and subjective control, strongly marked by new technologies. This, on the other hand, completely changed the discourses and the educational practices in the contemporary world, creating new political orders, new syntaxes, new forms of social organization, new forms of resistance and, above all, new subjectivities.

    If the school, despite having lost its former centrality, still remains in the epicentre of the subjectivity production and attribution of meaning to children, youth and adults, the question that now arises is about the way it plays its role in contemporaneity. In other words, given the crisis in disciplinary school in the contemporary world, what is the new meaning of school? What is the school, this two-hundred-year-old institution, good for in the contemporary world?

    Veiga-Neto, We certainly do not dispose of answers to these questions, and it is for this reason they are so urgent: if we want to think the current crisis in school and education, we have to start facing the challenge these critical questions impose. The analyses of Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze about the crisis in modern and contemporary institutions have the merit to show us that the crisis is part of these institutions. Therefore, more important than trying to reaffirm old reformist arguments is to critically think the meaning of these crises. It is precisely in this respect we find a surprising convergence between the analyses of Foucault, Deleuze and Hannah Arendt on the crisis in education.

    Even though Arendt, Foucault and Deleuze follow distinct theoretical patterns, they end up revealing that the crisis in education is the crisis of modernity; moreover they offer us an important theoretical tool for thinking critically about the meaning of such crises. Despite this openness, the steady stream of new students has begun to deplete resources. This means that the majority of school-aged refugees, a third of all 1.

    However, despite these odds, numbers from April bring hope. A total of , children attend primary education in the 11 refugee settlements throughout Uganda. Although continuation to secondary education remains low, there is still reason to be optimistic as local initiatives, international organizations, and businesses continue to contribute and expand efforts to make education accessible at both the primary and secondary levels.

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    Who Should Attend. This workshop is designed for primary and secondary students aged 10 years and above. About Instructor. Workshop Schedule.