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Philosophy of Education

The Technical Improvement Of Education As A Philosophical Problem

A. Tsooker
Novokuznetsk Institute of Qualification Improvement

ABSTRACT: What follows considers the problem of technical improvement as one of the main problems in the philosophy of education. I consider technology in connection with transferring from substantial comprehension to comprehension of the process itself. The creation of educational technologies is the expansion of educational freedom, from freedom inside action to freedom inside reflection. The connection between education and technology ensures creating and modifying a particular, non-formal, and humane pedagogy.

Profound comprehension of different tendencies and processes in contemporary education is one of the main problems of the recently appeared and developing philosophy of education. Intensifying technological inclinations in up-to-date pedagogical theory and practice must be subject to understanding first of all, to my mind. Not long ago the application of the tecnological approach to education was impossible. The very phrase 'teaching or educational technology' seemed absurd. For a very long time pedagogy has been considered the field absolutely contrary to technical or mechanical kinds of activity. People always thought that profession of a teacher was connected with creation, intuition, unique and unpredictable person communication. The whole history of pedagogy, examining different kinds of educational process, has always been giving a teacher the leading role. Any programs, systems, methods should only support a teacher in order to expose his own potential, they should not substitute the teacher's place, not determine studies.

However, the experience of the recent years has shown that any reinforcement of external formal pressure directed to limitation of creative freedom of a teacher leads to the crisis in education. 'The freedom - noted Max Sheler - as an eternally existing personal spontaneousness of spiritual centre in an ind ividual is the most fundamentel and the first condition of any possibility of education and enlightenment'.

Yet, education does not only exist independently as an essence, it is also a social institution which is subordinate. Owing to its social development it is becoming less and less free. The modern society needs the education to give a certain, guaranteed, easily and constantly reproducing result. As far as we know, the only known in history mechanism which provides reproduction of a certain result is a technology. That is the reason of demands to bring technologies into education. Educational technologies stipulate the creation of a lot of methods providing the effectiveness of studying by a strict definition of aims, content, forms and ways of teaching, as well as internal essence of all educational processes in their intercommunication. Philosophy sees those aspects of educational technologies that don't allow to identify this process with a strict determination and hard limitation of frame given outwardly. Technologies influence greatly the fate of pedagogical freedom, contain the possibility of transformation its image into both, negative and positive forms. The aim of this article is to define the novelty which is being brought by educational technologies into pedagogy in the whole, to determine arising problems that demand philosophi cal understanding. To achieve this aim is necessary to examine the notion 'technology', its origin and formation.

The history of the notion 'technology' in the West-European philosophy is connected with the transition from the dogmatic supposition of the universe to a reflection on the process of this supposition. This transition was provided by the turn of philosophy to a person, discovery of a 'phenomenon of vitality' as the only authentic unique thing in the universal supposition from Dekart's cogito ergo sum through Leibnitz's perception to a Berkley's concentration on subjectivity of emotional experience.

The idea of emotional experience, its objectification and fixation as an objective fact, but experienced independently, formed in the category of experience, is a "metaphysical basis" of the German classics (Gadamer). The experience in the German classical philosophy is becoming a criterion and the limited field of truth; only the emotional experience can be the truth (Kant, Fikhte); the experience is the sphere of removal of every next step of experience with the help of a priori mechanisms is the funda mental unit of development (Gegel). Cogito, monad, experience are landmarks in the formation of category of activity, which was dominant in the West-European philosophy.

The final formation of the active approach has become an important step in the development of the human self-consciousness. The activity has been understood as a special active transforming attitude to the world and as a primary point in the explanation of distinctive human traits. The activity itself has become the source of any processual experiences and any appearance of a human personality. To provide for safety and development of any humanity the activity should be reproduced and therefore be described. This normative description of activity necessary for reproduction is a technology. So we define technology as a description of means and ways of gradual achievement of the aim within the theory of activity.

A technology seems to be a special textual reality which belongs to an unstable moving world. Technology doesn't deal with the substance. It catches the very process. The mechanism of the process in a pure sight understandable only as instability, single moment and inimitability, isn't totally reproduced. Technology is being born when there is the necessity of reproduction and it is the only real possibility of direct universal transmission of any process through its ontological supposition. Therefore technology with its structure and functions is similar to any genetic code or chemical matrix, because it is presented as universal bearer of information for possibility of renewal of determined process, contains mechanisms of copying and guaranteed achieving the same results.

In its origin "technology" is a born thing, it wasn't given by nature. It refers to over natural being. Antiquity uses 2 terms with the same meaning: techne and physis. Physis means a passive natural outcome, based on general independent on us laws that we didn't create. Techne is an active outcome organized by a man and dependent on a man. Technology provides for a human action and its possible repetition. Human actions are not mainly regular and thus acquire their own unnatural character. There are re gularities not depending on us, but human wills performed into the category of the law in its basis. Therefore technology is, first of all, a normative text, which lies within hard artificial human space.

Meanwhile technology can't be artificial for a man, it must be as much as possible natural for him. When a man perceives technology as something unnatural, he either can't act on its basis or his actions will be not quite of full value and will not satisfy the human nature. Actually, technology as a thing created artificially and separately existing one, must create the possibility of actions on its own basis. However artificial technological laws dictate actions without their internal reception. In this case a technology turns into dictate and a man becomes a unit or a robot. That's why we insist that a technology really becomes a technology when it becomes naturally necessary and significant for a man. Without this moment we lose a human specific character of a technology which means creativity.

A technology being accepted and comprehended by a man is represented as a result of creative free set of an aim. An aim is a primary, the most abstract type of a standard. To accept action means to include it in the structure of universal thing, to forecast its predestination before the action takes place. Otherwise any human activity is getting to be a set of hard functions. The result of a set of an aim is the beginning of a technology, but not the technology itself. The aim doesn't give the possibility to produce action. The aim as an ideal presentation gives the chance to act, but it doesn't give any guarantees for its making. A man who has an aim, only knows what he must get as a result, but he doesn't know if there is a way to get it, and if there are a few ways, he doesn't know which the best is. To set an aim doesn't mean to guarantee its achievement. To realize his ow n will a man should enter the field of his own limitation. The logic of movement to the aim demands our submission to the logic of a thing.

Having an aim, we can formulate demands to the object of our activity and begin to search it. Our activity can be called expedient only when we'll be able to see a necessary result yet in an undeveloped condition in the object. And then we'll build a trajectory of transformation of this object as a constant development of the result. This trajectory of constant transformations of an object is a plan. A plan in the activity creates on the one hand, a confidence to achieve an aim, on the other hand, dictates strict succession of actions.

So, technology proceeds from an aim and a plan of activity. But it's not enough to reproduce and act. A plan is a normative description of a trajectory of an object, but it doesn't describe an creator, giving him an absolute freedom. An object can't be changed itself. If it could it would belong to the world of physis, world of nature objects. In the world of activity only a man can change anything. In what way a man will change an object, transform it from the primary condition into the second one, and then into the final condition, that is, the whole field of the activity of a man will be examined.

A sphere of activity, a technological world as a sphere of transformation of an object demands specific means to be realized. A means can be anything that transforms an object but is left unchangeable itself. Thus, a substantial constant condition of means with the constant fluidity of conditions of a transforming object lets make an activity reproduced. The mystery of any transformation of an object within the frame of activity is that an object is getting dependent on means and subordinate to the laws of means, changes its own laws. Therefore, the aim needs specific means. Anytime the interaction of an object and means should achieve a necessary result.

However, the use of means in the technology doesn't determine it yet. Any cultural means has a general functional nature. On the one hand, means is always unchangeable, on the other hand. It is multifunctional, and thus, can achieve many aims. A concrete description of means doesn't guarantee a necessary result. That's why a technology includes not only a description of means, but a description of ways of their use to achieve an aim as well.

The category of the way of activity is a spontaneous synthetic unity of three logic, describing above: a logic of an aim, a logic of an object, a logic of means. They are present in every unit of activity. Means must lead to the realization of the set of an aim, take into account peculiarities of an object for the possibility to influence it and keep it unchangeable. Only the description of a way provides for making activity of full value and makes it possible to guarantee reproduction of each action. Only when reproduction, technical spreading and normative things in the education are used roughly they resist creativity and freedom. To the mind of some modern philosophers such as M. Khaidegger, K.Yaspers, L.Mamford and others, the crisis of our civilization and the whole mankind is connected with technique and its gradual expansion in all spheres of our cultural and everyday existence. A technical spreading enslaves, makes every man its servant, deprives him of his own self valuable being. However, our analysis of the notion technology shows us that such leveling of a human specification is a privately limited, but not typical version of a technology realization. This leveling happens because a man is caught by a total absorption in mechanical content in all three technological logic of existence. This very substantial submersion creates, to my mind, a mechanistic kind of modern being which threatens a man.

A technology is a text which guarantees reproduction of any action by a fixed reservation of the method to realize this action. And it depends on us whether it will guarantee free or fixed, preserving or destroying actions. From this point of view, technologies coming into education don't look like ordinary everyday academic and practical problems any more. The process of technological improvement of education, as a matter of fact, includes a possibility to escape the modern mechanistic development of our life. The creation of pedagogical technologies is extension of borders of pedagogical freedom, beginning from the freedom inside action to the freedom inside reflection. It can turn into the process of realizing and search of human goals of education, personal approaches to a pupil, humane and eternal means of his development. The union of technology and education gives a possibility to create an form an other anti mechanistic, humane way of being. Its implementation demands not only practical and theoretical, but also philosophical knowledge.


(1) Sheler M. Forms of Knowledge and Education, Gnosis, 1994

(2) Dmitrienko V., Lyurya N. Education as a Social Institution, 1989.

(3) Bespalko B. Items of a Pedagogical Technology, M., 1989.

(4) Vartofsky M. Art and a Technology are opposite models of Education? M., 1988.

(5) Vodopyanova E. Prospects of the Future Education, "Education in Siberia", 1994.

(6) Anisimov O. Notional Means of the Theory of Activity and Thinking, M., 1991.

(7) Rozin V. Philosophy of a Technique and Cultural and Historical Reconstruction of a Technical Development, "Questions of Philosophy", N3, 1996.

(8) A New Technocratic Wave in the West, M., 1986.


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