23 SES 05 C, Europeanization and Policymaking in Education 2
The technological attitude in education embeds a claim that educational phenomena can be expressed in exact, neutral and objective terms, and more strongly, that those phenomena ought to be expressed in such terms. This attitude has been an important feature of modern society in a wide variety of fields. The neoliberalist policies have reinforced the impact of this attitude in education by emphasising measurability, predictability and control. (Kiilakoski 2012.)
The ENQA report Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area describes the common basic principles, procedures and guidelines for quality assurance . These aim to stress “the interests of students as well as employers and the society in more generally in good quality higher education” (ENQA 2009, p.10). The ENQA report demands the HEIs to organise their activities in such a way that they can demonstrate how they are assuring the quality of the academic programmes and how they are efficiently supported by the organisation. The general standard and guideline on the policy and procedures prescribes that the quality assurance procedures will cover all levels of the organisation. In Finland this has been described as criterion for an advanced quality system: “The quality system covers all of the basic duties of the HEI and provides excellent support for the institution’s overall strategy and the development of the entire institution’s operations.”(FINHEEC 2012, p.12).
According to Carl Mitcham engineering differs from professions, where the first-order ends are described by the vocabulary of the profession itself. These first order ends are public goods. In engineering, however, the first-order technical end is conceived as subordinate to a second-order end that is not operative in the profession itself. (Mitcham 2009). The point Mitcham is making emphasis that the quality of the quality systems cannot be judged within the system. Instead the question is how well it enables HEIs to fulfill their academic responsibilities.
Even if EU standards and guidelines point out that the quality assurance procedures should not place excessive burden on institutions, it is common for academic staff to express concern on this. This is partly linked with the actual amount of work caused by quality assurance activities and documentation, but deeper reason can be associated with the tension between how an expert of teaching conceives and describes the educational practice and how it must be translated to the technical quality language. If an essential part of teaching work seems to be omitted from the operations, it is understandable to attempt to translate this part to the management vocabulary. In some cases this may lead into quite esoteric use of language. This tension between points of view is well exemplified in Wittgenstein’s famous passage: “Suppose that, instead of saying "Bring me the broom", you said "Bring me the broomstick and the brush which is fitted on to it."!-Isn't the answer: "Do you want the broom? Why do you put it so oddly?" (Wittgenstein, 1997, §60).
ENQA, Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area, 3rd edition, European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, Helsinki 2009, http://www.enqa.eu/files/ESG_3edition%20%282%29.pdf FINHEEC, Audit manual for the quality systems of higher education institutions 2011–2017 (2nd edition), 15:2012. http://www.finheec.fi/files/1780/KKA_1512.pdf Heidegger, Martin 1977. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Translated by William Lovitt. New York: Harper & Row. Kiilakoski, Tomi 2012. Kasvatus teknologisessa maailmassa. [Education in the Technological World]. Helsinki: Finnish Youth Research society, publications 132. Mitcham, Carl 2009. A Philosophical Inadequacy of Engineering. The Monist, vol. 92(3) pp. 339-356.. Smith, Adam, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 6th edition, Liberty Fund Inc, 2000 (1790). http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smMSCover.html Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Philosophical investigations. Blackwell, Oxford 1997 (1953).
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