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On Education: Conversations with Riccardo Mazzeo

ISBN: 978-0-7456-6156-8
100 pages
June 2012, Polity
On Education: Conversations with Riccardo Mazzeo (0745661564) cover image
What is the role of education in a world where we no longer have a clear vision of the future and where the idea of a single, universal model of humanity seems like the residue of a bygone age? What role should educators play in a world where young people find themselves faced with deep uncertainty about their future, where the prospects of securing a stable, long-term career seem increasingly remote and where intensified population movements have created more diverse communities in which different cultures find themselves living side by side, no longer bound together by the belief that the other would eventually be assimilated into ‘our' culture?

Faced with the bewildering features of our liquid modern world, many young people are inclined to withdraw - in some cases into the online world of games and virtual relationships, in other cases into anorexia, depression, alcohol or even drug abuse, hoping to find shelter from a world perceived as more and more dangerous. Others launch into more violent forms of behaviour, like street gangs and the looting carried out by young people who have been excluded from the temples of consumption but are eager to participate in the ceremony. And all this happens while our politicians look on, uncomprehending and indifferent.

In this short book Zygmunt Bauman - the leading social theorist of our liquid modern world, here in conversation with Riccardo Mazzeo - reflects on the predicament of young people today and on the role of education and the educator in a world where the certainties of our predecessors can no longer be taken for granted.

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1. The crisis of contemporary education between mixophilia and mixophobia

2. José Saramago:"There are ways of being happy that are simply hateful"

3. Gregory Bateson and his third level of education

4. From ballistic missiles to the smart ones: from closure of mind to "permanent revolution"

5. The hundred years oak trees have grown from ridiculously minute acorns

6. Looking for a genuine "cultural revolution"

7. Depravation is the cleverest strategy of deprivation

8. It takes but a few minutes and a couple of signatures to destroy what took thousands of brains and twice as many hands and lots of years to build

9. The youth as a disposal tip for the excesses of consumer industry

10. The effort to improve mutual understanding is a prolific source of human creativity

11. The unemployed may always play lotto, don't they?

12. Disability, abnormality and minority as a political problem: the examples by Wells and Saramago

13. Being indignant is not enough for swarm-like ephemeral political groupings

14. The riots of defective consumers and the never-ending minefields

15. Richard Sennett: "Informal, open-ended cooperation is how best to experience difference"

16. From the Lacanian "discourse of the capitalist" to the Baumanian "discourse of consumerism"

17. Zizek and Morin: does religion necessarily have a monotheistic nature?

18. If even Proust's pétite madeleine is exploited as the last resort for consumerism

19. On fuels, sparks and fires

20. On globalization coming of age

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Zygmunt Bauman is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Leeds

Riccardo Mazzeo is editor at the Italian publisher Edizioni Erickson

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  • This is an engaging new book from one of the most influential and widely read sociologists in the world today.
  • Bauman, in conversation with Riccardo Mazzeo, reflects on nature and role of education and on the predicament of young people in our contemporary, liquid-modern world.
  • What role should educators play in a world where young people find themselves faced with deep uncertainty about their future, where the prospects of securing a stable, long-term career seem increasingly remote and where intensified population movements have created more diverse communities in which different cultures find themselves living side by side?
  • This book will appeal to anyone involved in teaching and education and to a a wide audience of general readers interested in current affairs.
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"Bauman's knack for placing things in context and accounting for that uneasy feeling you get from this or that current development makes [On Education] stimulating."
Inside Higher Ed

"When graduates can't find jobs, the bargain of commercialised education – take out enormous student loans that will be repaid by your supposedly high salary later on – breaks down. So worries the sociologist Bauman, in a perky and colourful written interview with the Italian publisher Mazzeo. Even so, Bauman remains hopeful about the 'openness' of mind ideally encouraged by schooling – indeed, as he points out sharply, it is not 'practical' otherwise."
Steven Poole, The Guardian
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