Humanities, Education, and the Cultivation of Inner Depth: Against the Cult of Quantification

By Jeff Noonan.

Published by The International Journal of Humanities Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 19, 2015 $US5.00

We live in the age where quality of education is being reduced to the satisfaction of quantified learning outcomes. These outcomes are supposed to serve student’s educational needs and better prepare them for life-long challenges in modern society. I will argue that there is a contradiction at the heart of learning outcomes—to the extent that they measure anything, it is rote performance in a temporally closed environment. Thus, there is no way to measure whether or not a course cultivates in students the disposition toward critical engagement with the world that proponents of learning outcomes claim to value. That disposition, I will argue, is better cultivated through traditional, discipline-centred humanistic education. Learning outcomes mistake measurable performance with the inner ethical and political depth required for critical engagement with the world because they commit what McMurtry calls “the externalist fallacy.”

Keywords: Education, Humanities, Learning Outcomes, Life Requirements, Externalist Fallacy

The International Journal of Humanities Education, Volume 13, Issue 3, September 2015, pp.31-41. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 19, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 312.286KB)).

Dr. Jeff Noonan

Professor, Philosophy, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada