Sunday, May 13, 2012

Education ltd

The key to education is limits.

First off, it's a limited social situation. Not everyone gets in, and those who are in are usually determined beforehand. The participants are either enrolled, self-selected, enlisted, drafted or outright coerced - in either case, there is a boundary between participants and nonparticipants. Which might be for reasons of learning - for example when the course proceeds along some thematical line where you have to have been there from the beginning to get it - or for reasons other than learning - which oh so many pupils can tell you all about if given half a chance.

Given that education is a social situation, it is a limited one. It's something that happens only there and then, and after that you are just going about learning things.

Secondly, the goal of this social situation is to limit what you can do. You have to read these specific texts, do these specific things, achieve these specific goals - is short, make a predetermined list of things happen. It may or may not be up to you exactly how these things are done, but done they must be when the deadline rolls around.

The key point is not that these limits exist. They do, by default and design. What's important is where these limits are placed, and what you learn while doing the things that you do within them.

Since I understood this, participating in various form of educational activities have become so much easier. That, and planning them.

Thirdly, it defines limits in terms of who's gone through a specific education and who hasn't. Especially when it comes to those educations who confer degrees on people. Ontologically nothing changes with the degreed person in question (they still have a beating heart, two arms, two legs and so on), but socially it's a different story. One might hear stories about how degrees are getting worth less and less for each year, which may or may not be true - but the social difference between having one and not having one remains.

Limits. Limiting.

Fourthly, you get all kinds of benefits from being a student. To use and abuse, within limits. One is, as Bourdieu said, put in social stasis for the time being, temporally placed outside the field of the social. For a limited time, some boundaries are lifted while others are imposed.

Pro tip: abuse your library privileges. Especially the digital ones.

Hmm. This might be a good place to draw a line of conclusion. Can't let these meanderings go on into an unlimited (albeit slightly educational) rant, now can we? -

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