Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
Programmed Instruction for the Engineering of a Soviet Polytechnohuman
Viktoria Boretska

Última modificación: 2017-07-17


During the 1960s programmed instruction (PI) was believed to be one of the ultimate ‘scientific’ methods of teaching. This method entered the Soviet Union in the times of its search for the long-desired positivist truths about educational processes and for its scientific grounding in educational scholarship – developments that took place on both sides of the Iron Curtain. In this paper and using the example of PI’s translation to the USSR, I would like to problematize the promise of liberation that it was believed to fulfill: the teacher’s emancipation from the ‘boring’, mechanize-able part of the profession, the student’s liberation through individualization, and the liberation of the entire human species from the human, i.e. everything that is inefficient and faulted. The imperative of efficiency brought Soviet scholars to imagine the ‘ideal model of thought’ in an analytic-synthetic mind, and to transfer the logic of technology onto the one of human thinking. Such imagination was in curious ways incorporated into Nikita Khrushchev’s project of making the New Soviet Man, a polytechnical and independent human being that would bring about the ‘final stage of communism’. While challenging the emancipatory promise of PI, I would also like to consider its colonizing premise: The technology, meant to liberate the human that it was inspired by, gained epistemological authority in defining what this human actually was. Moreover, technology turned the human mind into its field of competence and concern. The sources used for this paper cover a selection of Soviet educational journals publications, as well as the private collections of the American psychologist B. F. Skinner and the Soviet cybernetician Aksel Berg.