Dissertation, The Hague University of Applied Sciences (2015)

Henrietta Joosten
Erasmus University Rotterdam (PhD)
Professional higher education is expected to educate large numbers of students to become innovative professionals within a time frame of three or four years. A mission impossible? Not necessarily, according to Henriëtta Joosten who is a philosopher as well as a teacher. She uses the experimental, liberating, but also dangerous ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche to rethink contemporary higher professional education. What does it mean to teach students to strive for better in a professional world where horizons tend to disperse and the possibility of long-term orientation is disappearing? Following Nietzsche, five key elements of striving for better are explored: uncertainty, excellence, critical thinking, truth seeking friendship, and learning through ups and downs. From these five perspectives, Joosten scrutinises existing educational discourses on professional higher education in search for openings to transform these discourses into new, more appropriate ones. Understanding excellence as rising above oneself, she argues for a learning environment in which all students are encouraged to excel. Such an environment allows for uncertainty and learning through ups and downs. Furthermore, teachers are prepared to risk their certainties in order to let a joined quest - that is, a quest of students and teacher - for better truths arise. Using the Nietzschean-inspired notions which have been developed in the study, Joosten describes two factual cases. One case relates to a course in close reading: first-year students jointly read philosophical and scientific texts. The second case involves a group of eleven senior students developing a course in project management. These descriptions and the recommendations serve as a catalyst for constructive debate on the question of how all students can be equipped for a dynamic professional world.
Keywords Nietzsche  Professional  Higher education  Uncertainty  Excellence  Critical thinking
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