International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

The Fetishism of Understanding in History Teaching: Consumerist Dogmas and Historical Education
Anthony L. Smyrnaios

This paper examines the prerequisites of the contemporary education, and especially history teaching, in which innovation, experience, empathy and understanding are included into and also express the prevailing spirit of consumerism. Nowadays the main target of teaching history is to effectively catch school and generally public fascination, overcome boredom and routine that by and large characterizes global education, through the devices of always innovative methods and the rhetoric of an ever-increasing, better and deeper understanding of historical process. Thus pupils absorb and encapsulate the values of contemporary society and the managerial ethos of entrepreneurship, which chase after the interest of its clients aiming always at profit. This enormous and unending quest for meaning has the characteristics of a fetishism of understanding, a really itching of understanding, that is the enigmatical meaning of an obsessive fascination with one’s own capacity and potentiality of experiencing. This political and economic agency of legitimizing the multiplicity of historical approaches, representations and interpretations makes the historical field a consumerist palimpsest that intensifies the rather metaphysical doubt about how much sense makes sense in history. At last, the article expresses the writer’s doubt of the contemporary romanticization and aestheticization in education, history, and history teaching, and proposes a counter-power, a critical ethos of philistinism, which simply seeks to destruct the often tragic complication of modern life and understanding of our society, though such concepts and tools seem gradually to disappear.

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