Education, Work and Life
Heikkinen, H. L. (2018). Education, Work and Life. In C. Edwards-Groves, P. Grootenboer, & J. Wilkinson (Eds.), Education in an Era of Schooling : Critical perspectives of Educational Practice and Action Research. A Festschrift for Stephen Kemmis (pp. 79-90). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-2053-8_6
In this chapter, I will study the relationship between education and working life from a few viewpoints. First, I will examine how everyday working life has changed and how education has to change. Second, I will depict how the practices of both education and the working world can and should be researched in terms of the theory of practice architectures. Third, I will come back to reflect on the relationships between work, education and life. The work that people do has increasingly been immaterialized. Working life has been detached from material production which is more and more automated and robotically driven. According to a Swiss professor Schwab (2015, 2016), we have already moved into a new era that can be called the fourth industrial revolution . The emerging and partially ongoing new revolution is speeded up by new technological breakthroughs in quantum computing , nano-technology , gene-technology , additive manufacturing (AM), Internet of things (IoT) and synthetic biology. All these innovations, mingled with each other, fundamentally change our lives on Earth. At the core of the fourth industrial revolution and society are the cognitive skills of humans. This new order of economy can called cognitive capitalism or cognitive economy . Consequently, cognitive work is ever present in our lives. The work we do every day is technically with us everywhere, so we can colloquially call it anyplace working . Because cognitive work is essentially learning, we may say that learning also becomes anyplace learning . In other words, the development of cognitive skills is actively supported not only in formal education but also in nonformal and informal settings. This scenario leads to societal polarization : the divide into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. As the borders between professions fade away, new jobs are created. These new kinds of jobs are hybrid jobs. Thus, we may find an ongoing process of hybridization in working life. The group of short-term workers, some doing fairly demanding assignments, have received the unifying title of the precariat. It is an ironic play on words, combining the old working class-term, proletariat with the French word précarité (Eng. precarious), that signifies uncertainty, instability and a high risk factor. In other work, working life today is becoming precarisized. To summarize, the ongoing tendencies of work and working life can be fused into nine intertwined core concepts. Firstly, the processes of work have undergone processes of immaterialization, digization , robotization and globalization . Secondly, and partially as a consequence of the previous processes, the processes of learning at work and for work have undergone elliptical processes of formalization of informal learning and informalization of formal education. All these have consequences for the work force in the forms of polarization , hybridization and precarization . These tendencies can be labelled under the umbrella term of new work . The practices of working life have dramatically merged, and new kinds of research are needed so as to better understand reasons why practices are as they are. In order to understand practices of new work, we need knowledge about: (1) economic resources or physical and material routines, habits of action and activities which prefigure social practices; (2) how practices of new work are understood and discursively formed by using cultural symbols, words, concepts and discourses; and (3) social and political relations which are prefigured through power and solidarity as well as processes of indoctrination, oppression and emancipation from coercive power. To put it briefly, in order to understand how practices are possible and how it is possible to change practices, we need research on (1) material-economic (2) cultural-discursive as semantic, as well as (3) social-political prerequisites of practices. ...
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