Chomsky on the Purpose of Education

Jen Asimow found this video of Noam Chomsky and sent it along.

You may not agree with the rather sharp and (too?) cleanly cut dichotomy that he suggests divides educational institutions (and policy), but I don’t think anyone could watch this and not find it thought provoking.

The video is described by Learning Without Frontiers (the host site) this way (the quote is Chomsky (obviously)):

“Education is discussed in terms of whether it’s a worthwhile investment. ‘Does it create human capital that can be used for economic growth?’ It’s a very distorted way to pose the question. Do we want to have a society of free, creative, independent individuals able to appreciate and gain from culture achievements of the past and add to them, or do we want people who can increase GDP. These are not the same thing.”

Noam Chomsky discusses the purpose of education, impact of technology, whether education should be perceived as a cost or an investment and the value of standardised assessment. Presented at the Learning Without Frontiers Conference – Jan 25th 2012- London (LWF 12)

Click HERE for the video. My favorite section is the last section (“Assessment vs. Autonomy”); it starts at 15:45. “You’ll remember what you discover,” he says.  “Education is really aimed at just helping students get to the point where they can learn on their own. Because that’s what they’re going to do for the rest of their life, not just absorb materials given to them from the outside and then repeat it.”

So freakin’ true.

h/t to Jen for the pointer!

Today’s Key Note Speaker: Robert Pippin

Like my colleague Kamran, I am a bit puzzled and tickled to see that the big Kahuna coming to speak to us on the first day of DWFDW, Higher Education Day no less, is a Philosopher (who says Philosophy is dead?). Though I wish it were Martha Nussbaum (no offense to Professor Pippin), I understand how her message might not have been such a great fit for the “new vision”; regardless, I’m excited to hear Professor Pippin speak.

Maybe you don’t know him? Check out his web site here and poke around a bit. He’s a philosophical rock star of sorts who does work on some of the most challenging (and influential) philosophers of modernity (Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche), especially regarding the psychological and political ideas and implications of these giants, and a thinker who is doing really interesting contemporary work in the areas of philosophy (political, in particular) and film, as well as philosophy and literature.  He’s written 15 books and hundreds of articles and given lectures around the world. He’s the real deal. Check out this or this or this or this or this or this for some accessible (i.e., not overly technical) examples.

So, what will he say to us? Well, that is something of a puzzle. I’m guessing that it will have something to do with “Conceptual Change” with the administrative idea being that we are all about to undergo one (or maybe need to?) and so will benefit from an understanding of the way our concepts form and limit our knowledge (and, by extension, how our old knowledge will lead us to resist new concepts). But I’m not really sure. I couldn’t find anything in a quick perusal of his writings regarding his thoughts on conceptual change.

I am most curious…