ERG SES C 09, Parallel Session C 09
In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education published the well-known report A Nation at Risk. This report warned, inter alia, about the risk that the U.S. schools and universities became mediocre, because of the education reforms implanted after that Soviet Union launched Sputnik (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). These reforms converted the education into a very scientistic and technical discipline aimed at employability. The main consequence of that was the following: although the report made sensible recommendations, such as looking for both excellence and equity, and proposed a certain humanistic vision of education, the idea which made more impact in society was a concept of excellence based on scientific and technical knowledge (Cfr. Finn, 2008). This concept was very useful to compete economically but it disregarded the idea of human excellence.
Europe has gone through a similar process but with a particular feature: the purpose of an economic and political union promoted the creation of a homogeneous university model. Before this challenge, the choice of many universities has been an idea of educational excellence based on learning skills, which increases the possibilities of getting a job but avoids teaching deeply an idea of human being. However, the consequences of this stance are very harmful to the students. A new illiteracy emerges where the students can read but are not interested on the best thoughts and texts of the history of our culture (Lasch, 1991, 1996; Bloom, 1988). Therefore, the underlying question is the following: is it possible to search a really human excellence in Europe where profitability is the priority of the universities?
For this task it is necessary to analyze what the study of humanities provides to the dimensions that anthropological philosophy considers essentially human. Nevertheless, a paper like that would require many more pages than we can write here, because, as it is well known, the humanities are composed of several disciplines. Hence, in order to put limits, our aim will be to study what the literature provides to three human dimensions: openness, aptitude to think about him or herself, and to be able to relate with an Absolute Being.
Berger, R. (2003). An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students. Heinemann, Portsmouth: NH. Bloom, A. (1988). The closing of the American mind. New York: Simon & Schuster. Finn, Ch. E. (2008). Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform since Sputnik. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Kahne, J. (1994). Democratic Communities, Equity, and Excellence: A Deweyan Reframing of Educational Policy Analysis, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 16(3), autumn, pp. 233-248. LaVaque-Manty, M. T. (2009). The Playing Fields of Eton: Equality and Excellence in Modern Meritocracy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Langer, J. A. (2004). Getting to Excellent: How to Create Better Schools. New York: Teachers College Press. Lasch, Ch. (1991). The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Lasch, Ch. (1995). The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of the Democracy. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Margonis, F. (1992). The Cooptation of "At Risk": Paradoxes of Policy Criticism, Teachers College Record, 94(2), winter, pp. 343-364. Nash, R. J. y Robert S. Griffin, R. S. (1987). Repairing the Public-Private Split: Excellence, Character, and Civic Virtue, Teachers College Record, 88(4), summer, pp. 549-566. National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983). A Nation at Risk. http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/index.html Noddings, N. (1993). Excellence as a Guide to Educational Conversation. In H. Alexander (ed.) Philosophy of Education Society Yearbook (Urbana: Illinois), pp. 5-16. Prakash, M. S. y Waks, L. J. (1985). Four Conceptions of Excellence, Teachers College Record, 87(1), fall, pp. 79-101. Proefriedt, W. (1983). Self-Fulfillment and Educational Reform, Teachers College Record, 85(2), winter, pp. 205-224. Reeves, D. B. (2002). The Leader’s Guide to Standards: A Blue Print for Educational Equity and Excellence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Sartre, J. P. (2001). What is literature?. London: Routledge.
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