Should contentment be a key aim in higher education?

Gibbs, Paul ORCID logoORCID: (2017) Should contentment be a key aim in higher education? Educational Philosophy and Theory, 49 (3) . pp. 242-252. ISSN 0013-1857 [Article] (doi:10.1080/00131857.2016.1214898)

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Higher education institutions are major concentrations of political, social, economic, intellectual and communicative resources. They reach freely across populations and cultures, and connect to government, professions, industry and the arts. The neo-liberal logic of markets has entered the realm of (higher) education. Marketing functions centre on the creation, codification and transmission of knowledge, and the certification of graduates and the nature of education are commercialised, both in provision and in curriculum content. This leads to discourse on the benefits of education being positioned almost exclusively in terms of their effect on income.

The perspective taken in the paper is the development of a happiness motive which asks education to challenge what it is to be a member of society: what moral and ontological stance one will seek to take in developing one’s future. The satisfied student perpetuates the current lifeworld in which they find themselves, seeking to improve the quality of the services provided. It is proposed that an overly-emphasised desire-satisfaction culture inhibits the edifying mission of universities. This is not to argue against high quality service provision but to differentiate it from the edifying role of personal challenge, determination and social responsibility conceptualised here as profound happiness or contentment, and the university’s role in its development. It calls for a different and more refreshing approach to higher education, which is losing its shape and ‘morphing’ into socially-experienced training provision.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Centre for Education Research and Scholarship (CERS)
Item ID: 19087
Notes on copyright: Attached full text: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Educational Philosophy and Theory on 10/08/2016, available online:
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Depositing User: Paul Gibbs
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2016 11:28
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 21:11

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