Younis, R. A. (2013). On Thinking (and Measurement). Measuring Up in Education: Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia Conference, 43.
We do indeed “live and work in a time when the issues facing education, many of which have been with us for a considerable period, are being approached primarilythrough measurement – classroom assessment, research methods, standardized testing, international comparisons”. It is also true that “we do not often stop to consider what counts – and alternatively, what doesn’t count – in a climate where measuring up to a standard is the name of the game. At a deeper level, we rarely raise questions about measurement itself.” Heidegger argued that what is “most thought provoking [in this ‘thought provoking age’] is that we are still not thinking,” in What is called thinking? (Was Heisst Denken? 1954, p.4). This somewhat startling assertion deserves careful attention especially in relation to the quote above (“we do not often stop to consider what counts – and alternatively, what doesn’t count – in a climate where measuring up to a standard is the name of the game”). Heidegger’s assertion is pertinent for a number of reasons: he associated this “not thinking” with a “critical moment in history”(p.57), with a “call”, and with a “miscalculation”. I will argue that it is important (again?) to reflect on a number of questions: what is thinking, especially in relation to measurement? Was Heidegger correct in arguing that we have “miscalculated” in so far as we have sought “the safety of the mere drive for calculation” (The End of Philosophy, p. 106)? And how does the desire for a higher form of “representational thinking” (in Heidegger’s words; EOP, p. 110) in these contexts serve and promote a number of aims in higher education, such as (“student-centred”) learning and even “flourishing”? I will attempt to provide answers to a number of these questions by reflecting on the broad but fundamentally important question of measurement and its limits.
metrics, philosophy, evaluation, measuring, education