Why education matters

I’m interested in how significant shifts in social life take place, often expressed through theoretical terms such as individualisation, acceleration and digitalisation. These concepts often have limitations but, in so far as they participate in what Wolfram Eilenberger describes as “the adventure of providing a relevant contribution to the understanding of its own age”, I think these limitations should be forgiven. They attempt to diagnose epochal shifts in social life, with the obvious corollary that how we live changes under these changing conditions (even if the failure to unpack the ‘we’ is a chronic shortcoming of these accounts).

Education matters (to me) because it mediates this relationship by shaping how people are prepared for changing conditions, as well as itself being a vector through which those changes take place. For example digital literacy becomes a formal aspiration of educational systems at the same time as their operations are themselves becoming digitalised, shaping the kinds of digital literacy which become possible as an educational outcome. It’s this reflexive moment in education, in which stances are taken towards social change in a manner which is itself part of those changes, which fascinates me.

2 thoughts on “Why education matters

  1. Two other theoretical terms also relevant to current shifts both in education and in wider society are financialisation and militarisation – which in some instances are combining – see for example the formation and emergence of ‘Darktrace’. These shifts are difficult to either oppose or influence, because of their isomorphic nature.

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