This morning, on the bus, I finished Chapter 9 of Hogan’s New Significance of Learning, which draws together the arguments developed in previous chapters for education as a practice and tradition in its own right. It firmly sets Hogan’s view apart from that of MacIntyre’s, and identifies strongly with the practices and convictions of Socrates.
I agreed very strongly with all of it. But perhaps that is because Hogan’s view validates my own role as a teacher of teaching. The majority of the teachers I work with are employed – with varying degrees of explicitness – to prepare students for a specific career, practice or industry; sports journalism, fashion textiles & print, digital marketing. For a lot of them, this aspect of their role is their primary concern, as indicated by their practitioner research projects and dissertations; ‘What specific screen print techniques are demanded of graduates?’ ‘How prepared are my students for work in the PR industry?’ I found it useful to read the examples from secondary teaching of literature that demonstrated what a ‘collateral’ (Dewey) engagement of attitudes and beliefs might look like in practice, and I recognise this as what I am attempting to achieve in my own teaching. However, I wonder what my own students think of education being a practice and tradition in its own right, rather than existing in the service of a secondary discipline and/or tradition.
Higher education is, these days, very focused on preparation for employment. Should it be? How does the blend of vocational (training?) and academic education vary across courses, disciplines and institutions, and why? How does this affect the status of education as a practice in its own right?
As a first port of call I am going to revisit the Dearing report with these questions in mind, and also the paper on HE Governance in Scotland that Ferdinand Von Prondsynski sent me via twitter, alongside Hogan’s next chapter on the teaching of teachers.