9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN10 Sociology of Education

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Structural Conditions of Education I Building I, 2E6

Europe´s challenges in education and culture in 21st century: Consulting Theodor W. Adorno

In August 2009 it will be 40 years that Theodor W. Adorno died. His thoughts shaped discussions in social science as well as in whole post-war society in the second half of the past century and were debated as fervid as controversial. Adorno radically stressed the importance of maturity, responsibility and critical thinking, of an extensive critical awareness of the present and also referred emphatically on the role of education and culture. Our days, modern democracies not only in Europe pretend to offer best conditions to live in freedom and emancipation and to allow their citizens individual selfhood, fulfilment and autonomy. In this context, education is emphasized regularly being one crucial factor for Europe's welfare now and in the future. At first glance, Adornos demands often seem to be fulfilled, his pessimism is called to be disproved by recent history. But are his thoughts really those of the past and not useful getting insights in problems of our societies these days? Could our view on variant tasks in education and its systems be enriched by studying Adorno?
In order to figure out selected dimensions including maturity, autonomy, emancipation, culture and education and their impact on subject and society, this contribution turns towards an extract of Adornos works, "Theory of `half-education´" and "Education to Maturity". The explanations are based on Adornos general way of thinking which is to be briefly presented as well. Thereupon it will be asked whether, how far and why implications could be derived considering urgent educational challenges. This is accomplished exemplarily by discussing some current issues of vocational education in Germany. It will be shown that Adornos statements can give fruitful impulses and that they do matter just now. This paper shall provide a basis to discuss social challenges in Europe of 21st century in a constructive way as well as in critical awareness - inspired by Adorno.