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The Humanities in a University of Technology

By John McLaren

Abstract

Contains a study on the humanities as a set of academic disciplines and the role they fulfil in the universities of technology. 'The idea of a university of technology seems to link two otherwise incompatible terms. Technology has come to refer to the way we do things, while the traditional pursuit of a university is the search for reasons for doing anything. The first is concerned with skills, the second with knowledge or understanding. This simple distinction however obscures reality. Knowledge and skill are intertwined, and in learning how to do something we learn also something about why we might want to do it. Similarly, all learning involves some exercise and development of skills. When we learn about the history of cities, we may not learn how to build walls and lay roads, but we do have to learn about the principles which govern both of these activities. On the other hand, if we learn how to make things, we must learn also about their functions and relationships — that is, about the principles that govern their construction. The question of whether principles or practice comes first is a matter of pedagogy, not of function, although it can easily be erected into a matter of ideology.

Topics: 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy, 1608 Sociology, McLaren Papers, social sciences, academia, scholars, academics, teaching, knowledge, students, staff, education, business, industry, technological development, economy, society, Marx, Freud, MCLAREN-BOXB1-DOC7
Year: 1989
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.vu.edu.au:17043

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