06 SES 07 A, Making School in the Age of the Screen
The way in which we commonly understand education today finds its origins in the way the new generation was introduced in the existing world in the schools of the Ancient Greek city-states. (Stiegler 2006, Masschelein & Simons 2013). That is, as a social practice that sets a particular disciplinary regime of attention-formation, and that mediates our relation with the world largely through textual technologies (rather than by raising children solely through the immediacy of real-life experiences and confrontations) (Cf. Mollenhauer 2014) . This, moreover, involves drawing children away from the sphere of the household to a specifically designed environment, and gathering them there on the basis of chance (at least too some extent). Recent changes, such as the privatization and marketization of education, far-reaching processes of globalization and deinstitutionalization, but above all the ubiquity of digital tools and the inevitability of constantly relying on them in all spheres of life, challenge much of what we have taken for granted and pose new issues for which we currently lack an appropriate language.
Therefore, in this symposium we want to address the impact of digitization on education in the (near) future, and more specifically zoom in on the issue whether it is still possible to understand education along the lines of the particular 'pedagogical form' of the school (Masschelein & Simons 2010). We will focus on one particular, but most distinctive characteristic of digital media, viz. that it concerns screen-related technologies. In other words, we investigate whether it is conceivable 'to make school' in a time in which digital media have become ever-present in our lives. To be clear, we are not looking for differences in learning outcomes related to pre-digital and digital conditions (finding out whether students perform better when instructed in a traditional school as opposed to on-line). Instead, we want to explore the hypothesis that the introduction and proliferation of screen-related technologies fundamentally affects the very meaning of what it means to educate and to become an educated being (Cf. Postman 1984, Boehme 2006).
Rather than starting from the idea that there is a perennial definition or essence of what education is (or should be) and that the means we use to educate are merely instrumental to the realization of a given, predefined pedagogical form, we explore the opposite hypothesis that transitions in means, i.e. in educational technologies, affect what education is all about (cf. Stiegler 2010). More precisely, this implies that the school itself, as described above, can be seen as a particular technological assemblage that brought along a unique way of connecting to others and the world, to teachers and students, as well as to the material they study - viz. a way of relating that was mediated by textbooks, blackboards, maps and charts, but also by precise physical gestures (pointing out, demonstrating, etc.) bodily disciplines and repeated exercise in the physical presence of others. Seen from this perspective, the implementation of digital technologies in education not only implies that from now on the screen mediates our connection with others and the world, but also brings about entirely different and unforeseen ways of educating .
Therefore in this symposium we want to analyze and articulate what it means to educate and to get educated under these changed conditions. We will especially focus on the new kind of gestures that go along with screen-based education, on the one hand, and on the (im)possibility of truly gathering students around something when they connect with others/the world via the screen, on the other hand. We approach this issue both at a theoretical level, and by investigating existing practices.
Böhme, J. (2006). Schule am Ende der Buchkultur. Medientheoretische Begründungen schulischer Bildungsarchitekturen. Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt. Masschelein, J. & Simons, M. (2010). Jenseits der Excellenz. Eine kleine Morphologie der Welt-Universität (F. Opperman, Trans.). Zürich: Diaphanes. Masschelein, J. & Simons, M. (2013). In defence of the school. A public issue. Leuven: E-ducation, Culture & Society Publishers. Mollenhauer, K. (2013). Forgotten Connections. On Culture and Upbringing (N. Friesen, Trans.). London: Routledge. Postman, N. (1982).The Disappearance of Childhood. New York: Vintage Books Stiegler, B. (2006). La télécratie contre la démocratie. Lettre ouverte aux représentants politiques. Paris : Flammarion. Stiegler, B. (2010).Taking Care of Youth and the Generations (S. Barker, Trans.). Stanford : Stanford University Press.
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