What does non-school education look like

RESEARCH


Education today is a manifestation of uneducation

It is said that knowledge and education are the most important resources in a resource-poor Europe. And it could seem as if the supposed Enlightenment dream of a fully educated person in a well-informed society is finally becoming a reality.
A mistake, according to the Viennese philosopher Konrad Paul Liessmann in his book

Liessmann, K.P .: Theory of Uneducation. The errors of the knowledge society. 175 S., Ln., 2006, € 17.90, Zsolnay, Vienna,

Because the current situation is extremely sobering: Much of what is propagated and proclaimed under the title knowledge society turns out to be a rhetorical gesture on closer inspection, which is less due to an idea of ​​education than to solid political and economic interests. The reforms of the education system aim at the industrialization and economization of knowledge, which turns the ideas of classical educational theories into their opposite.

With everything that people today need to know and can know (and that is not a little), this knowledge lacks the synthesizing power. It remains what it should be: piecemeal - quick to produce, quick to acquire and easy to forget again. Therefore, according to Liessmann's thesis, education appears today as a manifestation of uneducation. Uneducation means the intensive use of knowledge beyond the idea of ​​education. It is the fate of all of us because it is the necessary consequence of the capitalization of the mind.

Theodor W. Adorno once tried to use Spinoza's ethics to demonstrate what true education was: it is not just about knowing and reading the book, but also about Cartesian philosophy and its systematic and historical contexts, without Spinoza can be reasonably understood. Education, according to Liessmann, is the right to adequate understanding. For the semi-educated person who lacks the prerequisites for this, Spinoza's ethics therefore becomes a bundle of logically incomprehensible assertions from which he can just cite details as frozen material. Such an educational claim is shattered by a procedure that, like the knowledge shows on television, at best asks whether the Ethica, ordine geometrico demonstrata was written by Descartes, Spinoza, Kant or Hobbes.

Today there are no longer any preferred disciplines and areas of knowledge, and a canon is no longer queried anywhere. Knowledge has become an entertainment industry moment. Most science shows are highly interested in technology because it addresses a key motive of all knowledge: curiosity. Curiosity is one of the decisive driving forces behind the cognitive process. At the same time, she was always suspected of getting lost in the arbitrary, the individual, the extraordinary, the unnecessary and thereby overlooking the fundamental connections and truths.
For Liessmann, one of the paradoxes of the knowledge society is that nobody learns in it to know something, but for the sake of learning itself. Because all knowledge, of all things the creed of the knowledge society, quickly becomes obsolete and loses its value. If you check the countless pieces of information that are consumed under the heading of “news”, you can see that those who actually have something to say are rare and first have to be laboriously filtered out of the flood of data. And when it comes to the television news every evening, there is only one report that will make a difference for almost every viewer in the near future and which therefore actually has a meaning: the weather report. Everything else is usually entertainment. According to Liessmann, knowledge, in contrast to information, is an interpretation of data in terms of its causal relationship and internal consistency. Without working through it and understanding it, most of the information remains simply external. Not only students are increasingly confusing the mechanical copying of a term paper from the Internet with the independent writing of such a paper. We do not find knowledge in any database, in any medium that accumulates unstructured data. Knowledge always means being able to give an answer to the question of what and why something is. Knowledge cannot therefore be consumed, educational institutions cannot be service companies, and the acquisition of knowledge cannot be playful because it simply cannot be done without the effort of thinking.

Little more has remained of the utopia of free and individual access to the resources of knowledge than the ideology of lifelong learning. Liessmann sees this as an instrument with which an adjustment to the real property structure can be requested at any time. The ideology of lifelong learning has made the means itself an end.

A common mistake, especially in basic education, is to believe that you can throw away unnecessary ballast of knowledge by simply limiting yourself to learning how to learn. The something that the concept of learning always presupposes is kept open as a permanent blank space for the rapidly changing requirements of the markets. Liessmann sees this as the expression of a fundamental inability to state at all what is actually to be learned. And the fatal thing is that this practical pedagogical nihilism no longer frightens anyone today. Truth as the goal of science is only spoken of on Sundays.

Much of what is being undertaken to reform the education system under the heading of increasing efficiency simply obeys the principle of industrialization. The much-vaunted modularization of studies, for example, represents the transfer of the principle of functionally differentiated production halls to the acquisition of knowledge: bit by bit, courses and learning units are assembled to the degrees and universities are transformed into companies. It is interesting that people who have long researched and taught under the premises of sovereignty and freedom - and as civil servant professors even with a state guarantee - accept their inclusion in a hybrid production and control concept relatively easily: "Every craftsman who wistfully , Anger and injured pride had to swap his workbench for a job in a factory, had perhaps developed more sensitivity to social change than a once free spirit who now proudly proclaims that it will do everything to achieve the target and the goals of his company 'to meet. "

And the fact that the former centers of knowledge, the universities, are increasingly turning to management consultancies to accompany and structure their reform processes, testifies to Liessmann's blindness to an ideology whose critical dismantling used to be part of the tasks of social science knowledge.

It is not about education, but about knowledge that is produced, traded, bought, managed and disposed of like a raw material. And while knowledge is being sold as the rapidly increasing resource of the future, general knowledge is declining at a breakneck pace. The educational gaps of the so-called political elites in the simplest historical or cultural-historical questions are glaring, and in the triumph of opinion journalism Liessmann sees the downside of the fact that nobody knows anything anymore. “Education” has become a diffuse term in the knowledge and information society, with which the acquisition and transfer of different knowledge and qualifications can be named as well as the associated institutions and procedures. Education, based on the ancient ideal and the humanistic concept, was primarily seen as a program of human self-education, a formation and development of body, mind and soul, of talents and gifts that made the individual a developed individuality and a self-confident participant should lead to the community and its culture. In the knowledge society, only shrinkage levels of this concept are noticeable. The excitement about the results of brain research feeds off the program of self-knowledge, and at least as an ideology, no technical innovation can do without the indication that it increases people's options and potential for action.
Liessmann describes the status of education policy in one sentence: It exhausts itself by squinting at the rankings. He interprets the almost neurotic fixation on ranking lists of all kinds as the revenge of modern media society on the egalitarian principles of democracy. And as the most obvious example of replacing thinking by counting a ranking list, he cites PISA. "Ambition", wrote Wittgenstein, "is the death of thinking".

By referring to a ranking position that one has missed or that one would like to achieve, there is usually no need for any further argument. Anyone who is able to avoid any discussion with the sentence “I only say PISA!” Would have been hopelessly embarrassed in a world that has retained only a spark of reflection. Today he is considered an expert. And the more there is talk of quality assurance at a university or school, the less it is about qualities, but simply about breaking down qualities into quantities. Liessmann sees rankings as rather primitive, but highly effective steering and control measures, which are supposed to drive out the last bit of freedom from the educational sector that has remained to it as a relic of humanistic ideals.

If you look back on Kant's academic career, you have to come to the conclusion that he would not have had a chance in today's academic life. That starts with its proverbial immobility. No sooner has he been appointed professor than he confirms the worst prejudices that one has against civil servants: he stops publishing and ten years of silence follow. These years were probably among the most productive of his life, but in our age of monstrous project proposals and hectic publishing, who would dare to qualify years of consistent and singular reflection as a research achievement? And when his main work finally appeared, Kant suffered the next blow: The scientific community ignored that
Work, then she made fun of it. With this, Kant would have gambled away his last credit in an exploitation-oriented society: incomprehensible, too difficult, not customer-friendly, ultimately useless - such attributions would neither raise third-party funds nor mobilize a wider public. According to Liessmann, no one comes up with the idea that research should in principle be valued more highly than research financed by third parties within the framework of the individual freedom of university research, because it is not subordinate to the external interests of various clients and financiers. It turns out that the concept of science itself has become standardized and transformable through rather arbitrary setting of supposed standards. The differences between different cultures of knowledge are usually ignored, as is the question of the actual content of scientific achievements. And above all: evaluations are carried out according to relatively arbitrary, but predetermined criteria, so they are in principle “blind to the new”. Especially the extraordinary, original, creative and innovative, which supposedly represent such great value in a knowledge society, are in principle ignored by conventional evaluation procedures. For these reasons alone, “excellence projects” mediated through evaluation are highly likely mediocrity.

The widespread introduction of professionally oriented short courses will change the image of the university more sustainably than any other reform before it. To put it polemically: the bachelor's degree is the degree for dropouts. Those who failed to complete a thesis due to a lack of qualifications are now promoted to academics. Short courses that are structured, standardized and schooled accordingly will turn universities into technical colleges in the medium term. Liessmann wonders whether such short studies can even be useful if they are geared towards those fashions that see the salvation of the humanities in combination with business, media and biotechnology. He sees freedom of teaching and research as the first victim of the Bologna process. While it was previously free to determine the topic and method yourself, at the latest in the doctoral program and especially in the habilitation, the networked colleges and prescribed doctoral programs lead to an understanding of science that is characterized by the parameters of predictability, networking, standardization and control. One could, Liessmann scoffs, come to the conclusion that modern universities only know one real enemy: the spirit of independent research that eludes their ideas of structured and controlled science. And as far as teaching is concerned, the focus is no longer on the subject, but on credit points, module affiliation and credit options. Under these conditions little will be felt of curiosity or even enthusiasm for science.