Being and Education

In his PhD research project, Jan Varpanen explores the purpose of education from an existential perspective. In a close dialogue with the work of the prominent theorist of education Gert Biesta, Varpanen examines the tensions, paradoxes and possibilities that emerge for education in encounters between societal demands and the irreplaceability of the Being of each person. Drawing on existential and post-structural philosophies, the study aims at two things. First, to create a properly educational concept of growing-up which is not reducible to biological growth or psychological development. Second, building on the concept of growing-up, to open the possibility for a curriculum where this key aspect of education is included.

The study contributes in particular to the development of Biesta’s concept of subject-ness, which has exposed the limitations of the contemporary tendency of understanding education mainly as a question of learning. Through the two research goals, the project aims at strengthening Biesta’s concept both at the theoretical and the practical level, which increases the concept’s potential for acting as a point of resistance against the mechanization of education.