Edev_502 response wk9_1

Those questions posed by Rita are invaluable as they capture the essence of the debates not only in this week but for the foreseeable future in global education. I’d like to comment on one question and its immediate relevance to my situation in Japan and how that feeds into Mohamed’s ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ views on education.

Rita wrote;

“Should the combination of research and teaching in their faculty provide its students with a critical eye on the world in which they live and work?”

An “Archimedean point” (Oxford Reference, n.d.) is the notion that someone can move outside of their subjective position and adopt an objective view of reality. Even though Kuhn (1963) showed that accessing this point is impossible, what is important is not the philosophical existence or not of the point but the attempt to understand it. Critical inquiry is predicated on this Archimedean point, and to deny access to it is a political move that “has negative consequences for ethicised groups in the working class in that it limits access to a powerful class resource” (Rata, 2012, p. 107).

Hard science should understand its intellectual roots but often fails to do so (Pigliucci, 2014). Humanities, therefore, become the main vehicle for maintaining the inquiry. Rata (2012) clearly describes the dangers of localising knowledge and not realising the universality of science. ‘Traditional’ views of education may ultimately fail the student by withholding access to universal knowledge.

Here in Japan, an unbelievable incident has just occurred. Picked up by just one English newspaper, this event has such wide ranging consequences that I am, for once, lost for words. Of the 60 national universities (the prestigious ones), half will abolish their humanities departments next year (News on Japan, 2015)!


Archimedean point – Oxford Reference. (n.d.). Retrieved September 8, 2015, from http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095422175

Kuhn, T. S. (1963). The function of dogma in scientific research. In A. C. Crombie (Ed.), Scientific change (Symposium on the history of science) (pp. 347–369). New York and London: Basic Books and Heinemann.

News on Japan. (2015). 26 natl universities to abolish humanities, social sciences. Retrieved September 8, 2015, from http://newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/113496.php

Pigliucci, M. (2014). Neil deGrasse Tyson and the value of philosophy | Scientia Salon on WordPress.com. Retrieved September 8, 2015, from https://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/neil-degrasse-tyson-and-the-value-of-philosophy/

Rata, E. (2012). The politics of knowledge in education. British Educational Research Journal, 38(1), 103–124. doi:10.1080/01411926.2011.615388

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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