Do We Ever Learn From History?

14 08 2004

womenwar2-thumb.jpgThe last couple of months I have been analyzing the rhetorics in a governmental report on correspondence education. The report was published in 1961, and is really a fascinating time machine.

I find it very intriguing that discourses in the texts from the 1950’s use the same arguments to support correspondence education in the 1950’s that are used today to advocate broadband access and computers in every home. Naturally there are differences in language and in ways of expression – but you tell me – is this the type of argument that you thought was used in the 1950’s?

Increased education and research is a requirement for a continued significant increase of our standard of living in the widest sense. Both the development of our businesses and our society’s adaptation to changing conditions is dependant on it. For people to be able to master in an increasingly complex society, an increased level of education and knowledgeability is a requirement.

Korrespondensundervisningen i skolväsendet, 1962, p. 74

The main strands of argument goes like this: education –> knowledge –> development. Development is the goal of society. Development is good. Not developing is bad. Not developing means falling behind, scientifically, economically and socially. Knowledge is the key to development. In order for development we must have knowledge – preferably scientific, objective knowledge. To create knowledge we must educate the people. But not once and for all. We must educate the people continuously, rapidly and in the right type of knowledge.

On the individual level there is a similar argumentation both today and in the 1950’s, this rhetoric is focused on the concept of lifelong learning, and is really just an instantiation of the larger “knowledge society” discourse above on an individual plane: education -> knowledge -> development. If you get an education, you will know stuff. If you know stuff you’ll get a good job.

The rapid pace of development in our society demands expeditive roads to education as well as educational forms that effortlessly can be adapted to shifting needs. Correspondence education has proven a completely satisfactory and inexpensive method in the service of education. An education that builds on correspondence education combined with concentrated oral studies makes it possible for students to deepen their insights into a subject or to acquire merit for another position, alongside their regular employment.

Korrespondensundervisningen, 1962, p.73

Jeez if there is somebody out there watching, s/he must be a little tired of the reiterations.

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