The question of authority in education : The willingness to take responsibility for the world as a constitutive part of education

jeudi 12 novembre 2015, par Igor Bijuklič

According to Arendt (1954), the disappearance of authority in politics is followed also in other spheres of human affairs, education is no exception here. This phenomenon results in the following paradox : Because education is the activity where new generations are gradually introduced into the existing, old world, this activity cannot take place without authority and tradition, but nevertheless education nowadays takes place in conditions where both are disappearing. This “introduction” of new generations is always determined with the fact that they are introduced in a world that is always older than they are. So, education and teaching is “inevitably looking back into the past, no matter how life is taking place in the present”. We could consider modern trends of introducing entrepreneurship (as “looking forward” and “permanent innovation”) in all levels of education as a systematical disruption of its role. The qualification of those who run the educational process consists in knowing the world and its past and being able to instruct others about it, but their authority rests on the assumption of responsibility for that world. In front of those who are to be educated, teachers are the first representatives of the world of adults. This task requires a conservative posture rather than an innovative or revolutionary one, because it has to conserves both the world as it is—insofar as he teaches the child what is rather than what should be or what will be—and the newcomer in his/her newness—by allowing them the possibility to take action in the future, when they will take their own political responsibility and thus the possibility to begin something new/anew and different from the existing. To renounce to authority on the side of teachers is highly relevant in the ESL question, because it is on this point that becomes almost impossible to actualise the role of education as a connecting path by which new generations can step out of privacy and intimacy of the family and enter into the world of adults as adults and prepare themselves to take up political responsibility and concern for it from previous generations.