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Values Education and Technology

Values Education and Technology: The Ideology of Dispossession

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 456
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  • Book Info
    Values Education and Technology
    Book Description:

    For decades, values education has been one of the most hotly contested areas of reappraisal in school curricula. This book contributes to the debate with the controversial proposition that the current modes of values education are not cultivating the qualities associated with moral judgment and character, that they are in fact producing a consciousness which merely reinforces some of the potentially destructive tendencies of modern technology.

    Emberley sets the stage for his argument with an examination of the progressive initiatives in education since the 1960s. He discusses the expectations which arose with the proposals to teach values as an explicit component of the curriculum, and reveals a hidden agenda which undermines their explicit objectives. He goes on to explore the relation between values education and technology, building on the thought of Hannah Arendt and Eric Voegelin. Technology, according to Emberley, is becoming the entire context for our understanding of reason, politics, and the intellectual or spiritual life. The question is raised whether technology has become the ontology of our age, as George Grant suggested, and whether it has eclipsed essential relations and experiences which have traditionally defined our humanity. Emberley depicts technological development as proceeding through three historical phases which he characterizes as a mechanical order, an organic order, and an electric field. By the third phase, he proposes, traditional humanism has nearly disappeared.

    Emberley offers a systematic analysis of three of the dominant models of values education and suggests that they bolster this deconstruction of humanism by playing out the philosophic relation between Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche. His analysis also indicates how these models replicate the structure of each of the technological phases. The consequence of this collusion between values education and technological consciousness is a person who cannot be critical of technology, one who cannot recognize any limits to our technological prowess. Whether this collusion is intentional or inadvertent is one of the many issues Emberley pursues. He proposes pedagogical options which revive the spirit (though not the letter) of the `traditional curriculum.' He argues that the aim of education is to produce a character that does not allow reason to become merely a faculty of shrewd calculation and technical expertise.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8301-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    For over thirty years there have been major upheavals in and experimentation with the school curriculum and pedagogical technique. Values education is recurringly the most visible and most hotly contested area of reappraisal. For some, the schools – by promoting new values or new modes of re-evaluating old values – are seen to embark on an attack on the core of traditional morality. Others see the curriculum changes as merely making the practices and reasoning covered under the terms ‘ethics’ and ‘morals’ more explicit, consistent, and rational. Some embrace the new progressivism with enthusiasm and relief, and see the efforts in the...

  5. 1 Values and Values Education: Towards a New Regime
    (pp. 13-56)

    The persistent presence of a phenomenon can finally make us impervious to its significance. Where once it disturbed what was, and broke like a flash, beginning a whole new trajectory of effects, if that same phenomenon repeats its silent murmur, moment after moment, we take it as self-evident and as second-nature. The sleep of forgetfulness soon covers over the novelty that accompanied its birth.

    It is nearly impossible to feel strange about identifying our mutual presence to one another with regards to what we permit ourselves to say and to do to another or with respect to visions of our...

  6. 2 The World and Spirit as Possession
    (pp. 57-93)

    Although most of our lives is spent in the commonplace, quotidian rhythms of the everyday – acting by habit, interacting civilly, judging what appears, obeying authority, expressing anger, forgiving, fearing disease and death, resisting but accepting imperfection – and although the traditional understandings of ethics and morality have taken the everyday as the point of departure for a discussion of how to order human longing, a great denial characterizes the dominant discourse of our society, refusing to believe that the everyday is the source of important truths about ourselves. Indeed, the most significant philosophic voices of this century, Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin...

  7. 3 Values Education: Three Models
    (pp. 94-124)

    Despite a popular view that the schools have abdicated their responsibility to provide a place in the curriculum for morality and are fostering a general climate indifferent to moral phenomena, the classroom has been in the last thirty years, and nothing indicates that it will not continue to be, an active site of pedagogical practice and knowledge in numerous experimental efforts to put ‘Values’ at the centre of concern.¹ In the next three chapters, from the great variety of such models, I extract the three dominant models and examine them, measuring their value against the composite sketch of the human...

  8. 4 Values Development: The Hegelian Experiment
    (pp. 125-158)

    Lawrence Kohlberg echoes the familiar refrain that ‘character education for a set of virtues’ is based on an unjustifiable ‘hidden process based on authority.’ But Kohlberg’s opposition is not limited to principled objections to authority. According to Kohlberg, more simply, that process did not work. Drawing on the Hartshore-May study of habit and character formation, and its finding that the consistency and persistence of moral characteristics were not guaranteed by traditional educational approaches, Kohlberg holds that the classical habituation to virtue is empirically demonstrated to be conducive to only short-term, situation-specific, and reversible moral conduct. Kohlberg therefore looks elsewhere. He...

  9. 5 Values Clarification: The Nietzschean Experiment
    (pp. 159-181)

    The values clarification technique is associated with Louis Raths, Sidney Simon, Merrill Harmin, and Howard Kirschenbaum.¹ In both Canada and the United States programs like the Human Development Program kit, the Magic Circle, the Dell Home Series, and others employ the values clarification techniques. It is the method probably best known of the values education programs, both for its notoriety and for its uncanny ability to reproduce itself and appear in countless social situations – ice-breakers, initiation rites, management seminars, catechetic training, social work therapy, and university residence counselling to name a few.

    Like the other models values clarification (VC) takes...

  10. 6 The Technological Environment
    (pp. 182-224)

    It is now, at last, time to introduce the second term of my analysis. I would like to situate the discussion of the preceding three chapters – specifically my detection of those destabilizing factors which in a series form an ineluctable chain of self-overcomings culminating in the frivolous nihilism and dispossession of values clarification – against the backdrop of technology. It is not self-evident that an analysis of values education should intersect with a discussion of technology. Beyond the obvious points that certain technological advances have raised unprecedented moral dilemmas, and that successful technological development depends on skills and attitudes which appear...

  11. 7 From Dispossession to Possession
    (pp. 225-265)

    Values education swept in with the promise of revitalizing flagging moral spirits, overcoming conformity, and enriching the place of humans in a world increasingly dominated by technological planning. In contrast to the objectifying imperatives of technology, values education was going to renew human subjectivity and to provide measures with which to steer our way around the new powers which were making it possible to manage, control, and optimalize all facets of life.

    My argument is that the dominant models achieve none of these aims and that at the deepest level the metaphysic underlying them colludes with and reinforces key aspects...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 266-276)

    The spiritual condition under which I have analysed the values education models is ‘loss of balance.’ That loss manifests itself particularly in the rejection of the view that what is ‘first and foremost’ – that is, the forms of the everyday – should inform our judgments. The metaphor I have used to express the disentanglement from the world, and the attitude of disposability and superfluity regarding the facts of the everyday, is ‘dispossession.’ Arendt and Voegelin warn of the great danger which follows from abstracting questions of human possibilities and limits from the comprehensive reality in which we participate. These thinkers remind...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 277-278)

    Intellectual sophistry, in the final instance, rarely prevails over the common-sense and everyday judgments which will exist wherever humans come together and circumstances have not made the environment of such coming together one of total domination. Testing the heady promises and dreams of values education against the concrete particulars of human reality will likely lead students, in their maturity, to wholesale rejection of the ideological programs to which they were exposed.

    What is unfortunate, of course, and what will lead to inevitable confusions and disappointments, is how poorly the authorized vocabulary of public life will permit such rejection to be...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 279-300)
  15. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 301-320)
  16. Index
    (pp. 321-330)