Social Acceleration Theory

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On beasts, teachers and classics (or the aftermath of a course)

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enter image description hereThis small article comes many months since the last one in this blog. I have thus not obeyed the basic advice for a good blog: publish regularly. Despite that fact, I will post today (and try to continue in the future) because a course that I shared with a group of classics teachers last week gave me much food for thought. And here we go!

I recall the advertisement of an energy drink, some years ago, which used the slogan “bring out the beast”. What a saying! What a declaration! Maybe, the ultimate expression of the philosophy of a whole era. Maybe the notion of the purpose of the modern civilization that pushes us to become superhumans before becoming humans.

Superman is not merely a comic hero; it is what you are called to become, in order to run faster and to achieve more. And if you cannot become that (and clearly you cannot as you do not have the physical force, the natural capacity to fulfill that) don’t worry. Drink the magical drink and you will fly. The superdrink will release in you your superpowers (and not necessarily the good ones), it will help you “bring out the beast”.

Modern marketing, as the real child of our epoch, is in a hurry. It wants to sell here and now and to achieve that it pushes people too much. And it forgets that humanity and civilization have struggled during thousands of years to bring the beast back, to put it in the cage at least, to control it that is.

Humans do have inner power; many powers. But if these powers are not controlled they will be used for destruction. Our modern civilization, supported by the accelerated technology and globalization, has deified money as the final idol. Profit (in cash) is the ideal for anyone now: individuals, nations, countries. And the system is in desperate need of consumers. This is why it pushes people to look down, to look to the earth, to the soil and mud rather than up, to the spiritual, to the heaven. It underlines the passions and their satisfaction rather than your ability to learn, to criticize, to think, to love.

To teachers: do not expect a system that worships material life to give nice advice to students. It only wants to produce practically dead, in mind and spirit, consumers not thinking, live, responsible citizens. Use technology at school but also draw on the wealth of the classic past. Teach with technology but be also inspirational to your students and teach them urgently beauty, poetry, philosophy, creativity for a better future locally and globally.

All the above ideas come from the experience of our ERASMUS+ KA1 courses.

Technological Innovation in Education

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It is true that ICT technologies have given us impressive educational tools during the last three decades but the problem is that more impressive technologies come all too often. How can an educational system incorporate all these changes in such an accelerated mode?

The Social Acceleration Theory of prof. Hartmut Rosa identifies the economic motor as the main external factor that sets technological innovation into motion. Capitalist economy needs growth in order to exist. And in order to have more growth i.e. more production, more consumption etc., the capitalist economy demands for more capable technologies. Technological innovation really creates a competitive advantage for some time for those who have, understand and use the newest technologies and faster production, cheaper products, more consumption etc are achieved under the motto “time is money”.

These are not the values of education though. A school is not a factory; a teacher is not a production engineer; a school principal is not a marketing manager to push for more consumption. Teaching methods of course need renewal and using ICT tools can mean more effective methods but still we cannot convert the use of technology to a goal by itself.

We lately witness a real effort to catch up with new technologies in the European educational system. Still it would be nice to initiate a parallel action of similar effort in order to define again the terms education, school, pedagogy in other worlds “paideia-παιδεία”. Finally redefining the teacher’s role in this new technological society would be of particular importance as teachers are the key persons in the era of technology.

These ideas are incorporated into our ERASMUS+ KA1 courses that we organize in Paphos, Cyprus.

The Social Acceleration Theory

- Posted in Social Acceleration Theory by

enter image description hereThe main subject of our seminar “Managing the fast technological change, for all educators” is the speed by which the technology develops. Referring to technology we refer of course to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which has given us so many and so impressive possibilities that we have to stop to think about them. Exactly due to the speed of change we do not have the time to reflect on the use of technology. New hardware, software and ideas come in such a high rhythm that reflecting on their use is kind of a luxury today.

Using ICT in education has to take into account that the accelerated technology does not only affect the school but the society as a whole. Thus it is of vital importance to see the changes of ICT in the broader context where the school functions.

In order to better understand these phenomena I have used the Social Acceleration theory of prof. Hartmut Rosa which provides for a suitable framework into which to explore what happens in the modern and postmodern world. This theory may not be the absolute tool to understand our situation but working with it during the last three years I have really gained many insights into the complex world of contemporary education which I would like to share with you. More to come…