Agony in Education: The Importance of Struggle in the Process of Learning

Agony in Education: The Importance of Struggle in the Process of Learning

Agony in Education: The Importance of Struggle in the Process of Learning

Agony in Education: The Importance of Struggle in the Process of Learning

Synopsis

Enchanted with novelty and obsessed with power, control, and efficiency, technocrats eagerly and imprudently plow under what they deem anachronistic relics. Utility and ease are their passwords, and the poor individual with sole recourse to personal resources and ingenuity is viewed as a waste of time and energy. What this means for education is that uniformity, predesigned programs, and abdication to an elite corps of experts have come to dominate and characterize our institutions. As antidotes for the technological age, Kuhlman suggests motifs and imagery from the classical world, such as agon, arete, and paideia. He reminds us of the agonies of the artist in the gestation of the great, soul-fulfilling creations of our past. He wonders if truly great accomplishments are possible without the pain and agony of individual struggle. He suggests that the individual psyche is withering on the vine because it is not expected to undergo the suffering necessary to transform it into an educated self.

Excerpt

The post--World War II generation in the United States and Western Europe has been the first generation in the history of the world that has been raised in a society of affluence and excess. The unparalleled prosperity of the decades between 1950 and 1990 brought unimagined access, for many in this generation, to the conveniences that come with economic prosperity. Correspondingly, the proliferation of technique has produced a veritable cornucopia of automation, devices and gadgetry with both positive benefits and negative consequences. Undeniably, the benefits of technology have fostered the development of laudatory labor-saving and life-saving devices. The previous unavoidable drudgery of dehumanizing menial labor has been alleviated by the machinery designed by human ingenuity. The media, notably, have come to dominate the society, and the exponential increase in and distribution of these information outlets have revolutionized the social system in unimagined ways. Marshall McLuhan "global village" has eradicated distances, and internationalism dictates local concerns and interests. The rate of change has been staggering. Configurations rearrange too rapidly to control, and obsolescence is calculated in generations that seemingly spring up and mature overnight. Whether computers, automobiles, societies, or civilizations, the concept of "generation" no longer refers to the traditional incremental growth process; with time-lapsed speed, technologies render inventions and innovations passé or obsolete in quick succession, and the rapacious appetite of modern society for change and novelty (irrespective of merit) translates into a mandate for more and different, if not better.

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