Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

The Future of School in the Societies of Work without Work

Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

The Future of School in the Societies of Work without Work

Article excerpt

Slavko Gaber and Veronika Tašner (Eds.), The Future of School in the Societies of Work without Work [In Slovene: Prihodnost šole v družbah dela brez dela], Faculty of Education: Ljubljana, 2017; 207 pp.: ISBN: 978-961-253-204-8

Reviewed by Matjaž Poljanšek1

There has been an increase in the amount of news and the number of commentaries in the media about the rapid digitalisation and robotisation of (post)modern societies. Typically, these commentaries do not go beyond general findings and projections about the number of jobs lost in various fields, even those fields where human labour was regarded as irreplaceable until recently. We can only welcome such media reports, for it seems that not even minimum social consideration has been given to a phenomenon that is not just around the corner, but is here. Naturally, these reports lack suitable conceptualisation and theorisation, without which the phenomenon cannot be seriously deliberated, monitored, reacted to and directed. Fortunately, literature has started to emerge that reacts more appropriately to the need for a more indepth analysis of technological change and its social implications. A small but important part thereof is the collection of scientific papers entitled The Future of School in Societies of Work without Work, whose value is evident in the fact that it deals seriously with (but not only with) the role of school in the processes of the rapid digitalisation and robotisation of society.

The collection consists of nine papers. In the first, entitled Time of Alternation?, authors Veronika Tašner and Slavko Gaber establish that it does not seem that we will see the end of work, but that this does not mean Fordian-type wage labour will retain the status it has at the moment. Evidently, it is becoming less stable and durable, with individuals facing perpetual demands that they upgrade their competences and skills. Since technological progress promises a radical loss of jobs, a new relation between wage labour, capital and the state will be required. Wage labourers are increasingly becoming citizens, and in future their rights will stem more from their citizenship than from their employment status. Citizenship will be the basis for eligibility for basic social goods. It will be interesting to watch the reaction of the public to this necessity, as society at large still holds the deeply rooted view that "he who does not work, neither shall he eat". This has been evident in the debate on the potential introduction of a universal basic income.

In the second paper, entitled Work and School, Veronika Tašner provides a historical overview of the development of school as a social institution and highlights the school-work relationship. While school (scholé) in ancient Greek meant leisure and was associated with fun, play and free time, it became at one point associated with social production processes of ideological homogenisation and economic efficiency. Children at school are given a reprieve from entering the adult world, but school has become a space of heteronomous work, school work. School has become mandatory and classes must be attended regardless of students' enjoyment thereof. School transfers knowledge and skills, it enhances obedience, order and discipline, and increases the students intellectual potential. For the individual, knowledge brings value, power and employability, and is thus an instrument of survival. The historical overview of the establishment, development and functions of school systems is necessary when deliberating about school and its role in the future. The paper is thus logically placed at the beginning of the collection.

In the third paper, Slavko Gaber re-actualises John Dewey, who, at a time of rapid industrial growth and the prominent instrumentation of knowledge, mainly gave school a formative role, viewing it as the inception of society. Dewey highlights the integrational role of school as society's inception and believes that school is too focused on intellectual aspects of human nature and omits the human tendency to produce something, to create something useful or aesthetic. …

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