Limits of Competence
Knowledge, Higher Education and Society. Society for Research into Higher Education S.
Competence is a term which is making its entrance in the university. How might it be understood at this level? "The Limits of Competence" takes an uncompromising line, providing a sustained critique of the notion of competence as wholly inadequate for higher education. Currently, we are seeing the displacement of one limited version of competence by another even more limited interpretation. In the older definition - one of academic competence - notions of disciplines, objectivity and truth have been central. In the new version, competence is given an operational twist and is marked out by know-how, competence and skills. In this operationalism, the key question is not 'What do students understand?' but 'What can students do?' The book develops an alternative view, suggesting that, for our universities, a third and heretical conception of human being is worth considering. Our curricula might, instead, offer an education for life.
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"This is an extremely informative and challenging book which will interest a wide audience. It is a must for educators and professional colleagues who have an interest in or input into professional development." - British Journal of Occupational Therapy "...a stimulating source for those who need to break out ofthe struggle of forces that have been locked in combat for the last half-century...I hope that the dialogue started by this book continues and...becomes transferred from thought to action in new teaching groups, newdepartments and even new universities. It is certainly Barnett's intention to light the blue touchpapers and not stand back." - Studies in Higher Education "There is much in thisbook to admire. It is well written, well argued and deals with contemporary issues. It has much to offer in promoting a sensible and sensitive debate around the future direction of higher education and its curriculum." - Quality Assurance in Education "This book will be a useful addition to the libraries of philosophers and academics whoare interested in a detailed and theoretical exploration of the rolesof higher education in society." - Open Learning "If asked to recommend one book to a busy academicinvolved in professional training, I would have to choose Barnett's...powerfully argued...the pressure of events makes Barnett's learned and provocative polemic more immediately attractive." - Teaching in Higher Education "...a useful addition to the libraries of philosophers and academics who are interested in a detailed and theoretical exploration of the roles of higher education insociety." - Open Learning "...deserves to bewidely read by those with an interest in the future of higher education in our society." -Educational Review