Late modernity, education and journalism

29 03 2009

According to Zygmunt Bauman, we are living in a state of permanent impermanence. The social forms and institutions which organize human experience, are losing their referential frame. In Education and the press, the same struggle, Roland Legrand sees an interesting parallel between education and journalism which bears directly on Bauman’s theory of  liquid modernity.

The learners – consumers and producers of knowledge and skills – are getting used to free learning and knowledge. Just as is the case for news, it will become increasingly difficult to make people pay for courses and workshops.

Professional teachers and professors will be confronted with teachers and facilitators from outside the profession. Many of those newcomers will be amateurs, but some will be recognized specialists in their own professional networks who have other and possibly more interesting things to teach than the professors in the established educational institutions.

I think that many debates about news gathering – can bloggers be trusted, how to determine whether information is trustworthy, how to earn a living as a professional journalist etc – will run along the same lines for the educators.

This is a debate that institutions of higher learning should be having. As far as I can tell, Flemish tertiary education is not. On the academic agenda in Flanders are concerns about institutional concentration, ‘output financing’, tenure tracks and productivity demands (publish, or else!). All these topics seem but small piece meals compared to the all-you-can-eat buffet of a de-professionalized arena of higher learning.

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