For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Heidegger and the technology of further education"

by Standish, Paul (1997)


The new further education, characterised by managerialism, accounting systems and the packaging of learning, has brought about far-reaching changes for staff and students, changes that can broadly be understood in terms of technology. This paper seeks to gain a new perspective on this through a consideration of Heidegger?s exploration of techne and of the pathologies of technology. The various responses that Heidegger advocates in the face of technology are then related to possibilities of good practice in technical and further education. The discussion involves questions concerning work and language, especially as these arise in conditions of postmodernity.

Key Passage

Rational accounting and evaluation [within educational institutions], it is claimed, demonstrate value for money and the quality of the service. But these factors bring with them the impoverishments of distantiality, averageness and levelling down (which Heidegger subsumes under the category of publicness - Die Offentlichkeit). Accessibility and efficiency seem to serve the customer yet staff and students become subservient to the system. Within this regime of efficiency, the idealisation of work and the worker takes on a new style. As obsolete workshops are refurnished and carpeted, the noise of heavy machinery is replaced by the soft clatter of keyboards. A new aestheticisation extends throughout the new further education with its shiny prospectuses, logos and mission statements. It is there in the presentation skills of the smart-suited managers - working long hours, keeping things moving, carrying the college forward, anxious to make their mark. A cult of busyness extends inexorably through the institution absorbing staff into the system. Demands on staff increase and staff work longer hours. There is a gradual habituation to the regime of the institution's language with its `critical paths', `deadlines', and its codes of initials and acronyms. It is difficult authentically to think beyond the world-in-itself (the unworld, Heidegger might say) that the institution becomes: absorbed into the They, teachers and managers are either carried along in a kind of frenetic excitement or slowly ground down - with the ensuing bewilderment and breakdowns. (p.453)


Heidegger, Technology, Education, Techne, Pathology, Postmodernity


Technology, On Heidegger

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