Richard Hall has posted an excellent piece on the relationship between technology and education prompted by a reflection on the student demonstration on the 10th of November in London. As Richard points out, this was about much more than the cuts and the increased fees. Most of the demonstrators would not be immediately affected by these anyway. What is now being questioned is the whole nature and purpose of higher education at a time when the government and its corporate backers are steering it remorselessly towards a privatised consumerist market driven institution in the service of the economy and GDP growth.
This is a debate I am intensely interested in for a number of reasons, political, moral, ethical and personal. My ideas are nowhere as advanced as those of Richard’s or of Mike Neary (cited in Richard’s post) and I am learning a lot from them. My take on this will probably build on the ideas of Bourdieu on education and Zygmunt Bauman’s views on the contribution sociology could make to a general process of reinvigorating public discourse and democratic engagement. This also chimes in with a variety of writers and thinkers who are seeking to defend and extend democratic processes where privatisation, managerialism and forms of social and political exclusion have significantly reduced them. This, I think, chimes in well with the thrust of ideas like ‘social knowing’ and ‘mass intellectuality’.