Hannah ArendtSeptember 9, 2013
I recently learnt on Twitter (from @Melissa_Benn as it happens) that there is a film due to be released in the UK later this month about the philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt.
The trailer below actually makes it look pretty terrible:
Regardless, any excuse is worth it to draw people’s attention to Arendt’s wonderful essay “The Crisis in Education”, a copy of which can be found here. Although written over 50 years ago about American education, it applies perfectly to contemporary education debate and in particular its analysis of the ideology of progressive education has never been beaten.
What proves that it is particularly insightful is the prediction that, despite a backlash at the time, progressive education would not disappear:
…wherever the crisis has occurred in the modern world, one cannot simply go on nor yet simply turn back. Such a reversal will never bring us anywhere except to the same situation out of which the crisis has just arisen. The return would simply be a repeat performance–though perhaps different in form, since there are no limits to the possibilities of nonsense and capricious notions that can be decked out as the last word in science
This is something I think of whenever I hear yet another elaborate justification based on technology, social theories or neuroscience for the same practices that have already done decades of harm. If you haven’t already read it, please find the time.