La revue Jahrbuch für Historische Bildungsforschung, Vol. 20 (2014) (Yearbook for History of Education) lance un appel à contribution sur le thème “Machines and Mechanization in the History of Education: Devices, Myths, and Processes“, sous la direction de Christian Kassung et Marcelo Caruso
Machines have a life of their own: They have power units, and they are programmed to perform certain tasks. The more autonomously they act, the more radically they question the line between nature and culture. This is why they are so ambivalent: both fascinating and disturbing. The fascination of machines is closely connected to their growing sophistication and the extension and transformation of their applications. At the same time, however, this also poses a threat to human autonomy, for the existence of machines always defines man in technical terms as well.
When Wolfgang Hochheimer, a Professor at the now dissolved Berlin teachers college, argued for the extensive use of teaching machines in the 1960s, he referred to a colleague who contended that those machines helped to achieve democracy, which was one of the central ends of education at that time, much better than in the past.
Moreover, Hochheimer argued that teaching machines were “consistently patient” and “consistently open” towards everybody – from “highly educated” to “underdeveloped” individuals (W. Hochheimer, “Erziehung durch Maschinen?”, in: Der Spiegel 30/1963, 24 July 1963). In the context of unconditional democratization during the post--WW II era, the promise and the threat of machines culminated in the fallibility of the teacher: “Every teacher who can be replaced by a machine deserves to be
replaced,” Ken Komoski argued (“Lehrautomaten. Der Tod des Paukers”, in: Der Spiegel 29/1961, 12 July 1961). Back then, Komoski was a machine programmer from the circle around Burrhus Frederic Skinner. He later became a professor at Columbia University and a UNESCO consultant. Since 1967, he has been running the Educational Products Information Exchange, substantially supported by private foundations. In the heat of these post--war debates one often forgot or ignored the fact that machines of various kinds had been used for conveying knowledge already since antiquity and that, more broadly, they had already always been used as “extensions of man.”
As machines have increasingly been permeating modern societies, it is hardly possible anymore to draw a clear line between technology and nature. At the same time, in the course of the institutionalization of modern education, a growing aversion against the world of machines and mechanization has been taking roots. Machines are soulless, the argument goes, when it comes to pedagogic relationships, for real education begins where unpedagogical drill always ends: with man. However, in the 21st century, “man” as such possibly does not exist anymore: Current communicative environments and the proliferation of “artificial life” – cf. the socializing effects of tamagotchis or Japanese nursing homes replacing human beings with robots – have intensified the question of the place of machines in education and socialization.
The Jahrbuch für Historische Bildungsforschung dedicates its 20th volume to machines and mechanization in the history of education. This concerns, on the one hand, “interfaces” of human beings and increasingly complex networks of machines, objects and media. On the other hand, it also concerns education towards machine-- adapted values and representations or socialization “for a life in the context of technical constructing and organizing” (von Hermann & Velminski, Maschinentheorien /
Theoriemaschinen. Frankfurt am Main, 2012, p. 12). Against this backdrop, articles may tackle not only questions of how to teach the artes mechanicae as well as the evolution of these teaching modes. Rather, drawing on analyses of machines and machine--inspired ways of thinking, they may also problematize the implicit knowledge of things, concepts of social transformation, pedagogic semantics, agency in educational processes as well as the historical materiality of individual devices.
Deadline for proposals: 31 August 2013
Notification of acceptance / rejection of proposals by 30 September
2013 Deadline for articles: 15 March 2014
Please e--mail your proposal to Prof. Dr. Marcelo Caruso, Humboldt--Universität zu Berlin: marcelo.caruso[ at] hu-berlin.de.