Education and the Postmodern Condition

Education and the Postmodern Condition

Education and the Postmodern Condition

Education and the Postmodern Condition

Synopsis

The translation of Lyotard's work into English in 1984 marked an important stage in the globalization of the modernity/postmodernity debate involving the central thinkers of the late 20th century, Michel Foucault, Jurgen Habermas, Richard Rorty, and others. This collection of 10 essays brings together for the first time a number of contributions on Lyotard's work made by philosophers, educationalists, and sociologists in the English-speaking world around the special focus of education. The intent behind the essays from scholars in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand is to examine Lyotard's notion of the postmodern condition and its relevance and special significance for the field of education. Lyotard's work, first published in Paris in 1979, was important in that it developed a particularly original interpretation of the state of knowledge in the most highly developed societies, reviewing and synthesizing a wide range of material on contemporary science, the sociology of postindustrial society and studies of postmodern culture. Lyotard brought together diverse threads and separate literatures in a prophetic analysis that signalled an epochal break with the so-called modern era.

Excerpt

"Sometimes I dream that I am an astronaut. I land my spaceship on a distant planet. When I tell the children on that planet that on earth school is compulsory and that we have homework every evening, they split their sides laughing. and so I decide to stay with them for a long, long time. . . . Well anyway . . . until the summer holidays!"

On the first day back at school in September David, aged seven and a half, comes home with the following homework: He has to learn this little story by Erhardt Dietl. in the space of one hour he can recite it in the right tone of voice without any mistakes. He has drawn the distant planet in his exercise book and the spaceship approaching it. the first thing that school makes him learn is the happiness of a world without school, with no obligations and no homework. This world exists on another planet. It is reached in a spaceship. the story does not say whether the little dreamer had to study to learn how to pilot the spaceship. It seems just as natural as climbing onto a bicycle. Years ago my sister and I would go off with two or three little friends, on long bicycle rides into the blue Atlantic summer, with our parents' blessing and our day's supplies of food on our carriers.

Perhaps going to school has only ever been to fill in time between radiant holidays. Perhaps the freedom promised by the Enlightenment was really the grace of this summer light bestowed on all. and the process of learning had perhaps as its true goal to give to the child the beauty of the world, its colors, breaths, poems, theorems, and other people.

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