University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > RS Peters Memorial Lecture Series - Unsettling knowledge: irony and education

RS Peters Memorial Lecture Series - Unsettling knowledge: irony and education

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The Faculty of Education is proud to host the second lecture in the prestigious RS Peters Memorial Lecture Series, with Professor Richard Smith.

It was one of Richard Peters’ principal achievements to give a sophisticated account of the distinctive nature of education: as something other than training, or the accumulation of qualifications or the passing of exams, or even the development and flourishing of the child. On his analysis education is good in and for itself, rather than for the sake of particular benefits that can be independently and conclusively specified. Our understanding of it is accordingly always partial and revisable. In the terms that I shall develop here, education is always unsettled, despite the settlements that are offered from time to time – for instance that international league tables will establish its quality, or that neuroscience or information technology or empirical research on what makes people happy will supply educational solutions. There is a proper irony in being committed to the idea of education without having answers at our fingertips: an irony displayed to fine effect in many of Plato’s dialogues, where intellectual and moral progress appear less a matter of acquiring knowledge than of experiencing its unsettlement.

Richard Smith is Professor of Education at the University of Durham. He was editor of the Journal of Philosophy of Education, 1991-2001, and founding editor of Ethics and Education, 2006-2013. His principal research interests are in the philosophy of education and the philosophy of social science. His most recent book is the edited collection, Education Policy: Philosophical Critique (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). Understanding Education and Educational Research, co-written with Paul Smeyers, will be published by Cambridge University Press later in 2014.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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