The Objectification of Professional Knowledge
In this paper I identify a number of fundamental assumptions about professional knowledge which have come to characterise educational provision in the UK and, increasingly, elsewhere in Europe and throughout the world. I show that these assumptions - which underpin all strategies purportedly aimed at promoting competences and other predefined educational 'outcomes' - are philosophically untenable and can be seen to reflect certain identifiable socio-political predispositions. My critique centres on assumptions relating to the use of language in the construction of educational specifications and demonstrates that the demand for clarity in the use of such specifications causes an 'ontological shift' towards 'objective' features of reality. I conclude that such strategies are socially divisive, are of serious detriment to the educational enterprise, and profoundly damaging to our conception of professional integrity and capability. Alternative strategies are proposed which, it is argued, would remedy the defects which increasingly characterise educational provision in Europe.
Keywords: Epistemology, Ontology, Language, Professional Knowledge, Class, Competence, Objectification, Education, Skills
Dr. Gerard Lum
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, School of Social Sciences, University of Northampton