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MANIPULATION, ARTIFICIAL MEANS, AND EDUCATION

Prof. Cesare Scurati

Teacher of Paedagogy, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan

The modern and the post-modern

There seems to be a rather wide gap between a movement heading in the “hypermodern” direction and one in the “postmodern” direction. The former may be considered as an amplified emanation of modernity, with no adjustments whatsoever, whilst the latter may include an attempt to review negative aspects and revalidate positive ones. Being “hypermodern” thus means to blindly keep travelling down all the avenues that modernity has opened up and paved, with the greater efficiency which characterizes technological developments (therefore more powerful technologies, but the same perspective of the world and life). Being “postmodern”, instead, implies reinterpreting a historical and civil living condition by relying on the cultural and technical legacy of modernity. This is complemented by the awareness of the need to change both the structures of action and contexts of meaning. In terms of education, if we assume that being hypermodern means perpetuating mistakes and being postmodern means trying to rediscover values, we then believe that the road to follow is not hypermodern, for that would strive directly for expansion without some degree of self-reflection. Instead, the way forward is a non-regressive but critical and responsible post-modern approach.

Contrasts

Any new cultural era inevitably involves the emergence of new kinds of extremes and opposites.

Light and darkness – The “nomothetic” dimension (that is, the rigorously logical, rational, systematic and structured) is being challenged very strongly. The difficult issue to face is to understand whether this historical moment will shed new light or bring more darkness. In other words, we will have to determine whether it will involve the dawn of a new era or more darkness.

An impossible childhood? – We can speak of two fundamental challenges. The first is unequal access to quality of life, which if pushed to the limit, tends to reintroduce the horrific ‘fantasies’ of diversifying humans (whether naturally or artificially) into intrinsically separate layers of inclusion into the universal community of human beings. The second refers to the great notion of “the pedagogy of innocent pain” (Father Carlo Gnocchi). According to such a notion, there is an “innocent pain” which is still amid us. It dwells in our homes, runs loose in our forests, reaches our beaches or wanders our streets. Its names are as old as the history of the world, but it can also take on the new names of contemporary events.

The difficult adult – The old paradigm which sees the adult as an exemplary figure

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