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ISSN 0281-9864 

Do the Humanities Contribute 
to Education ? 

Inger Bierschenk 

2000 No. 75 

Cognitive Science Research 

Lund University 
University of Copenhagen 

Editorial board 

Bernhard Bierschenk (editor), Lund University 
Inger Bierschenk (co-editor), University of Copenhagen 
Ole Elstrup Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen 
Helge Helmersson (adm. editor), Lund University 
J0rgen Aage Jensen, Danish University of Education 

Cognitive Science Research Adm. editor 

Copenhagen Competence Helge Helmersson 

Research Center Dep. of Business Adm. 

University of Copenhagen Lund University 

Njalsgade 88 P.O. Box 7080 

DK-2300 Copenhagen S S-220 07 Lund 

Denmark Sweden 


The focus of this article is on the question whether pure literature can 
contribute to education. As a portion of modern literature study in Swedish upper 
secondary level, novels about the future were examined, especially some, which take 
a critical position toward modern civilisation. In an experiment using Perspective Text 
Analysis, a master text has shown the theoretically rooted dimensionality of 
'futurism' as a socially valid concept. 18 year-olds got the task to write about a novel 
by using concepts taken from the master structure, of which 'public morality' was 
selected for the analysis. The hypothesis tested was that a novel writer contributes to 
the edification of a public only if he/she translates some structural dimension in an 
ongoing civilisation process. To this translation belongs a sense of public morality. 
The study concludes that when the students' responses were matched against the 
master structure, only one novel meets the criterion of being educative with respect to 
futurism. It is Huxley's "Brave New World", which contributes to education by 
mediating an ideology behind a civilisation process with a sense of morality. 

Science as Subject for Education 

When Jean Jacques Rousseau was confronted with the question: "Has the 
progress of arts and sciences contributed to the edification of our moral values?" he 
answered it by an emphatic no. He argued for the refinement to which the pure nature 
alone contributes and thus against the degeneration of the senses and morals, which 
will be the inevitable consequence of civilisation. This kind of idealistic and Utopian 
debater has always existed, but it seems to take up a great deal of space in times of 
unrest. Such a period was the Age of Enlightenment. The upheaval was caused by the 
technical and mercantile revolution in Europe, whose ideas Rousseau contrasted 
against the human and democratic values. Today, more than two centuries later, the 
technical development has reached a level, which the contemporaries of Rousseau 
could not even imagine, and in some sense I think Rousseau was right: Mankind has 
not been refined. Why should it? 

From time to time, the humanities have been in great repute. A main argument 
in favour of humanistic studies has been the import of reading the classic texts in 
order to keep up with high ideals. However, there is no evidence that whether classic 
nor scientific and technical education per se would foster maturity and humanism. 
Many of us may testify that the conditions at the academic institutions are not more 
human than at other work places. Maybe the grounding philosophy of today has 
become directed solely toward training and instruction but not toward education. 

The concept of education in the classical sense has shown up in the debate 
again, in particular as a consequence of the crisis of the instruction of science in 
school. To get young people interested in the edification of natural science and 
technology, various measures has been taken. In the first place, efforts have been 
made to increase the recruitment to industry and high technology research. Later on, 
the focus has been broadened and now the discussion concerns natural science as 
educating subject. In addition, ideas on democratic co-operation and the role of 
science in everyday culture is put forward (e.g. in the steering documents for natural 
science training at the Swedish upper secondary level). Behind this lies the idea that 
people cannot be collaborating in the democratic processes without knowledge of 
natural science in everyday life. To this view also belongs the opinion that natural 
science is itself producing culture (Sj0berg, 1999). 

The overall question of interest to the society is: Why are young people 
developing negative attitudes toward science and technology and positive ones toward 
more quasi- scientific alternatives like occultism and new age? There is further a focus 
on the low proportion of girls within science studies, something that worries both 
local school politicians and university governors (as seen from a Scandinavian front). 

The reason for profiling classic education is the idea that the humanities will 
enrich the science and technology subjects in school (and possibly also the idea that 
these values would attract girls to a higher extent). Of course there is much to the fact 
that natural science and technology alone do not suffice as a basis forjudging matters 
of energy, environmental care and city planning, for instance. With a cultural and 
democratic perspective put into the curriculum, the science subjects would get a new 
status as educating subjects. So far the lower secondary school has been unsuccessful 
in giving the students a reasonable all-round education in science and technology, 
according to chemistry professor Sven Engstrom (1999). 

The answer to the question about young peoples' choice may be found in the 
scientific conduct toward the environment, which especially the natural sciences have 

to maintain. The scholarly manner concerns among other things, autonomy, 
objectivity, systematic observations and the demand for empirical evidence. To that 
must be added a secularised attitude toward reality, free from myths. Against this 
mode of thinking often a set of opposites are put forward, which will introduce a 
holistic, humanistic view of reality, which may even be called unscientific for the 
sake of the good name. Certain natural scientists with a gentle appearance are acting 
as lures, as for example a female technologist at the Institute of Science and 
Technology at Lund, Sweden, who is invited to TV programs to talk about physics for 
girls. When Nobel price holder Ilya Prigogine talks about the important stimulation 
between disciplines of science and humanities for the understanding of the world, he 
will be cited (Katz, 1996). But nobody would ever think of these persons in terms of 
unscientific behaviour vis-a-vis their academic subjects. The feminine outlook and 
gentle appearance is attracting students, because it is supposed that the scientist and 
the private person are identical. The ideal personality is not the cool and rational 
observer at least in the eyes of female students, seems to be the policy. But if we 
could get researchers appear amiable and like people in common, then natural science 
will loose its unpleasant image. However, reality is more differentiated than that, 
because when the young people have started their natural science program, they will 
discover that strictness, objectivity and systematic observation are required of them. 
And when they have stayed in the program for a while, they may be able to keep apart 
the person from the subject, especially since they will meet a large number of female 
teachers in science and technology. 

Education as Matter of Democracy 

The scientific conception of the world has changed man's world picture and 
his own place in it. The history of science therefore is closely connected with the 
material, philosophical and artistic development. The ideals of natural science are 
close to the democratic, e.g. the respect of arguments and evidence. Autonomy, 
objectivity and rationality are central to both science and democracy (Sj0berg, 1999 p 
17). These concepts are often put in relation to the concept of education. To be able to 
talk about education as a result of training in natural science subjects integrated with 
the humanities, we have to be careful in selecting the humanistic aspects. The 
classical texts are reflecting the educational - or ideational - development. In this 
sense an educated person is one who can take part in the open discussion of a society 
with reason and sentiment. 

Since it is the pure literature that forms the basis of the humanities, it is this 
literature that is the starting-point of the integration efforts. But we have to keep in 
mind that the pure literature in many respects is an artistic expression and as such it 
has no scientific pretensions. Even though the modernists claimed to transform the 
new findings in literary form, the way e.g. the theories of Freud and Einstein has 
taken form in Durrell's "The Alexandria Quartet" (Hakansson, 1999), this 
transformation can only be a personally held formation. It may be very skilful and 
contribute to the perspectivation of humans and their world. But it may be myth 
creating as well and in this case it contributes rather to the picture of single human 
beings than of their world, which forms a reliability problem. 

Over and above the personal features of the artistic design it is incontestably 
so, at least in the Swedish pure literature of today, that the political residence of the 
author is permeating the work. This fact will be a dilemma from a democratic point of 
view, especially because this residence is being exploited so one-sidedly and is so 
dominating in our textbooks. As opposed to the natural scientists the authors of pure 

literature and fiction do not want to make any difference between their person and 
their work but instead they seem to mean that they are deeply involved. It becomes 
really problematic when young readers cannot see through the political propaganda. 
The ideal of humanism is said to be the understanding of the single human beings' 
dignity (Kj0rup, 1999). When thinking about humanism today being put forward in 
public by "proletarius", who makes human dignity a matter of class, one has to accept 
that "classicus" should not bother. 

In order for humanistic subjects to contribute to education, the study of pure 
literature should come closer to the scientific conduct. An educated individual should 
be able to take part in the argumentation processes of democracy (Kalleberg, 1999). It 
will require ethics in both science and communication by those who are forming our 
educational history in literature and by those, who are transferring it over to younger 
generations. Thus the scientific conduct is central to school too. It would for example 
mean that we study the literary Gestalt formation in such a way that we understand 
something basic in the text. Not the artistic expression and not the personal 
standpoints, but what the text expresses when seen as part of our educational history. 
By this the student gets concrete knowledge but also general insights into e.g. human 
rights or the complexity in a civilisation process. In this way literature study will be a 
democratic project. Of utmost importance then will be the selection of representative 
texts. I will give some examples: The scientifically working authors of the so called 
naturalistic era toward the late 19 th century wrote in both an objective an a subjective 
manner. Against the background just sketched I would prefer reading "Therese 
Raquin" than "Germinal" (by Zola) in my class, and sooner "Froken Julie" (Miss 
Julie) than "Tjanstekvinnans son" (Son of a servant woman) (by Strindberg). 

In the tradition from the Age of Enlightenment, society has built up 
institutions, whose task it is to do research on nature, society, and culture. This task 
has implied a specialisation, which in turn has called for democracy in the form of 
"translation" to the public. In this process only educated people can take part. The 
translation mission rests on the authors of pure literature. The development of 
knowledge and ideas is steadily changing and the task of the author is to give form to 
it in a comprehensible way to the public. The scientific way of approaching the task 
makes the author a modern "classicus". Other approaches may serve other purposes 
but not the purpose of democratic education, which the representatives of the science 
subjects wish and intend by the new order. With this outlook, democracy will be 
connected to education, and also to competence (I. Bierschenk, 1998b). A democratic 
mind has always been a guarantor for the single person being met in a dignified 
manner. I do not believe that Rousseau had argued against this thesis. But for sure he 
would have had difficulties to find some equivalent to the Robinson character in 
today's literary shipwreck. 

Science of Materials in Theory and Practice 

Depending on the way the institutions of a society and its citizens maintain the 
dialogue about the ongoing progress, the social climate is created in which the public 
life shall grow. One of the modernistic movements of the 20 th century is called the 
"futurism", because it occurred in a time (the First World War) of scientific and 
industrial progress. As an artistic concept, the futurism implies among other things the 
cult of various forms of purity and hardness, the machinelike functioning within 
humans and objects, movement, and a forward look. The artistic design may be read 
from out of the surface of paintings, illustrations, decorations and similar products. 

Also the futurism has produced some classic texts, most of them poems, which may 
be incorporated into the European cultural heritage (e.g. by Majakovskij, Diktonius, 

In order for this knowledge in our civilisation history to have an educating 
effect, the concept of futurism must be understood in its social function. When the 
leaders of a society will embrace the scientific and industrial optimism, these ideas 
will permeate significant social functions and give rise to a climate or atmosphere. 
Thus a vital and democratic civil dialogue is required to make both the representatives 
and the public conscious of which structures are developed by the time and which 
their consequences are. 

In an earlier made study of a subject matter, whose structural relations 
represent the theoretical concept behaviourism, I have discussed the consequences 
that this knowledge of materials may have in guiding students into literary paths (I. 
Bierschenk, 1999b). Having knowledge of behaviourism as scientific idea is, 
however, not enough for recognising it when transformed into a narrative about 
society, as for example in the dystopian novel "1984". With reference to the 
discussion above it may be said that one needs to have a certain amount of education 
to be able to apprehend the behaviourism in a structural sense. 

In the article mentioned above, I put forward the idea that the materials have 
to be governing, if our purpose is that teaching shall be raising the level of 
competence. But, surely, this requires knowledge of which structure there is to 
apprehend in a certain subject matter. In the present study I take my point of departure 
in a text, which is suitable for the problem just sketched, that is a text representing the 
futurism in a social sense. This time I would like to know the extent to which some 
novels would best be characterised as being educating. How well do the writers 
present this important subject, that is, "translate" it to the public? Can young readers 
apprehend the basics of futurism as social idea or will it be hidden behind an author's 
political message? 

Context of the Study 

One part of the study of language and literature in upper secondary school has 
consisted in reading some 20 th century novels intended to criticise modern 
civilisation. The work was accounted for in various ways. One of the ways of interest 
here is the individual writing account. I was interested in the way in which the 
students would explain "their" novel in case they quite unprepared would be given 
some words/concepts to base their essay on. Three novels are included in this study, 
"Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley (1932), "En levande sjal" (A Living Soul) by 
P C Jersild (1980), and "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood (1985). The 
premise is that these novels are critical fictions, located in a future in which the 
technological growth has special consequences for the society that man builds. 

In an earlier reported study of upper secondary students' literary 
comprehension (I. Bierschenk, 1997) I have not found any differences between 
natural science, social science and aesthetics classes. The classes therefore have no 
significance this time. Two classes (18 year-olds) have participated, one from the 
natural science program, and one from the business program. The theoretical 
concepts, to which they were presented, were taken from the text described below. 

Selection of Futuristic Text 

The selection of test for this study is the result of a careful preparation in the 
form of a study of sources as well as experiments. In connection with a course in 

modern literature I prepared a test, which was aimed to measure the comprehension of 
modern concepts and "isms" (I. Bierschenk, 1997). I refer to, for example, the cultural 
and literary concepts of expressionism, futurism and surrealism. I went through the 
textbooks in question and collected concepts and descriptions of ideas about 
authorship and literary works. By means of a clustering technique (described in the 
article referred to) the concepts and descriptions were refined in relation to similarity. 
In this way I created an empirical definition of the ideational sphere of modern 
literature. However, I went further to more scientific writings, such as handbooks in 
psychology, to get definitions of concepts like behaviourism, functionalism and 
magical realism. In this way the meaning of the concepts grew in clarity, as did also 
their demarcations vis-a-vis each other. By an experiment I carried out as part of my 
teaching, I could show the social science roots of the concepts and relation to 
competence development. 

The test contains fifteen texts, each one is a description of a modern concept in 
function. Some of the texts are constructions, some are taken directly from a 
handbook or the empirical reality, but with a certain modification. The text used here 
to get at the social structure of futurism belongs to the last category. It may be seen as 
an utterance, made by a person in a responsible position, which has been translated to 
the public with the purpose to explain a position taken in a present scientific matter of 
debate. The text is worded: 

The minister of agriculture puts forward the import of genetic 
modification in solving severe medical problems, but expresses a hesitation vis-a- 
vis a non-regularised application within agriculture and breeding of domestic 
animals. The task of politicians, the minister means, is to see, in close 
collaboration with the scientific community, that rules and regulations are "in 
pace with the development". 

Presentation of the Text Analysis 

To analyse the text I have used Perspective Text Analysis, a method for 
measuring the dynamics in text production. The method is founded on the hypothesis 
that there exists unity and continuity in a text, which has no direct relation to the way 
in which the text has been composed on the surface. For the readers who are 
interested in the main features of the method, such as the underlying theory, I refer to 
"The Essence of Text" (I. Bierschenk, 1999a). In this article I have listed references to 
theory, methodological development, and applications. In this connection it is not 
very meaningful to describe the functioning of the method, whether linguistically or 
topologically. However, a few words about the topographical presentation would not 
be out of place (see e.g. Bierschenk & Bierschenk, 1993; Bierschenk, Bierschenk & 
Helmersson, 1996; B. Bierschenk, 1997). 

It may be easiest to imagine a spherical, biological organisation, e.g. a snake, 
which by its rhythmical movements develops the structural coherence of the text. This 
snake has two parts, the body and the head. To symbolise the smallest possible unity 
that can be present in a natural text, the logotype of a snake biting itself in the tail is 
most often used (Spencer-Brown, 1969). In this way a spherical form is generated, 
which essentially is helical. In Figure 1, Ethics, transformed by Adjustment, 
represents such a smallest unity. The result of the transformation leads to the first 
topological invariant, Responsibility, which in the figure is depicted as the least 
possible bodily development. Now, the development of the body and the path of the 
snake coincide. But the head will move in various directions, which gives the specific 

orientation to the path. By the vertical lines we may read out the extent to which the 
changes of direction are reflecting the deformations of the text. They are termed 
topological dimensions and are well suited as basis for conceptual comparisons. 

In this connection I will not discuss the conceptual structure but instead the 
dimensionality in the text. We have here four dimensions, which are depicted on the 
vertical axis. The first dimension is formed by the concepts Systematising, Control, 
Leadership and Responsibility. It seems to represent something that comprises 
something long-term, which is designed with an overview and under special leading 
responsibility. Thus I call it Social Planning. This conceptual structure is a matter of 
a political structure in a broad sense, which is stressed by the second dimension, 
namely Anchorage, denoting that the actual policy or politics should make Measures 
of Acceptance. 

Figure 1. 

Futurism in a Social Structure 

(3) Ethics 

(4) Adjustment 

(1) Manipulation 

(6) Processing 

(7) Application 


(11) Adaptation 
(12) Progress 


(8) Processing Industry 

(9) Steering 

(10) Legitimation 

(2) Conscience 

Mov zment 

(5) Generalisation 

Note: (1)- (12) = Surface Concepts 
In italics = Structural Concepts 

The concepts Conviction, Organisation and Lobbyism form the dimension that 
denotes the conditions and prerequisites of acceptance making and the way this is 
channelled. The society can only be formed by the convicted people, who have a 
central organisation to their disposal to smoothly form a lobby for various purposes. 
This dimension thus expresses an aspect that concerns Influence. The three 
dimensions point at the working of a political system. Public Morality, Movement and 
Corporation together indicate a Social Climate or atmosphere. A corporate 
organisation does not always work in public. 

According to the way, in which I have discussed the problem, the fourth 
dimension is the most important one to apprehend in order to say that the citizens 
have an understanding of the society they live in. I encircled it by picking out the 
concepts Public Morality and Union (alternative to Corporation). However - as we 
know - for a synthesis to be formed we need a third point, and thus I selected 
Responsibility, which is the first structural concept formed and therefore may be said 
to be a connector between the social planners and the resulting spirit. The second and 
third dimension denote that the citizen is involved as a political co-creator (the 
structure at the base of the Figure). The question is whether the novel writer is using 
this dimensionality. It is also evident from the surface concepts where the natural 
scientists have their input in the process, namely as morality component within the 
government dimension and as the societal component that may be called strategy of 
ethical communication (upper entries of the Figure). 

I conceive of the public morality, publicly declared or non-declared norms, as 
the point of the structure, which concerns the single citizen the most. It follows that I 
take my point of departure in the concept Public Morality for this study. By means of 
the students' descriptive explanation of the novel it will be clear whether the author 
has an educating effect or whether the emphasis of the novel is within the political 

Marking Procedure 

The marking of an essay task always has to be a matter of an "analysis by 
synthesis". But compared to other situations, in which the teacher puts together 
questions to the content or form of a subject, this task is founded on theory. The 
marking is a matter of relating the responses to the conceptual relations expressed in 
Figure 1. 

The marking procedure was the following: I compared the students' 
statements with what I judged that they explain of the structure in the Figure. I have 
tried to treat the responses in an absolute way, that is, they either meet the criterion to 
be registered under a heading, or they do not meet this criterion. There is an obvious 
advantage to this procedure, for example when used for grading (I. Bierschenk, 
1998a). In some cases I have been helped by the fact that the same concepts as the 
surface concepts of the Figure has been chosen by the students. This gave a key to the 
closest structural concept and dimension. But most often I have judged an expression 
equal to the Figure concepts. In cases where I could not judge any similarity, nothing 
has been registered. 

In the following I give some examples of student responses together with the 
marking. The first example concerns Huxley's "Brave New World": 

"In the brave new world the family, as we know it today, does not exist any longer. Instead humans 
have chosen to propagate themselves by the 'Dokanovsky method'. As to the upbringing, it means, in 
the child's first years, nursery rhymes, with which the child is fed. /— -/" 


From this text I have marked Processing Industry and Manipulation, and 
because of the last one's placement as surface concept (1) in the structure, the first 
one has to be considered equal to surface concept (6). Structurally, these sentences are 
closest equivalent to Leadership, that is the first dimension Social Planning. 

The next example comes from an explanation of Jersild's "A Living Soul": 

"Is it right just because a union of peoples /— / think it's right? The book's answer to this question 
according to me is a clear no: One can see clearly how the medical doctor P C Jersild is opposing the 
modern research in biology and anatomy because of the nearly absence of ethics and responsibility 
within today's research l—l" 

From this text I have registered the deep concept of Corporation (union). 
Therefore I have associated 'the modern research' with Processing Industry as entry 
(8). In this case the fourth dimension Social Climate appears. But the student also 
discusses Social Planning by directly mention ethics (3) and the structural concept 
Responsibility, which was the third concept given. 

The third example concerns Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale": 

"By the shift of power one should transit to 'the old values. The actual morality did not permit different 
attitudes or actions. Even if it was forced on certain persons it should be valid for all, and the rules it 
implied must be followed. To 'ordinary' people it was in fact so. They were punished mercilessly if 
they did something prohibited, but this was evidently only a public morality, which was available and 
real to the public. I—I" 

A concept clearly present under the surface is Control. Further, Steering (9) 
and rules for the public are mentioned. Once again we have an explanation denoting 
the dimension of Social Planning. But also the dimension I called Measures of 
Acceptance. Because, as another student wrote, "many people are suffering in silence 
because of this realisation - way of reaching the goal". What the students apprehend 
is the methodical, functional in this society. The method of creating an Anchorage 
needs not be accepted by the citizens, in this case the women. 

Each text has been marked in this manner, provided that it has been clear that 
the response concerned the concept of 'Public Morality' (most frequently denoted by 
the title). The number of texts possible to mark has been for "Brave New World" 
(=6), "A Living Soul" (=5) and "The Handmaid's Tale" (=5). The maximum number 
of texts per book was 6. 

Education in Futurism 

In Figure 2, 1 present the dimensionality in the three novels, the way the 
students have written down their opinions in departing from Public Morality. I 
indicate the concepts in the structure to which the works have been related. The works 
are represented by the author's initial (A=Atwood, H=Huxley, J= Jersild). In case a 
concept is marked by two initials, this means that the first one got more observations. 

The result shows a very obvious pattern. Huxley's novel is the one, which 
most significantly describes a public morality by concepts of social planning. Huxley 
is clearly rooted there, both when it comes to give a picture of the role of natural 
science in leading a society as well as incorporating a morality component. 
Concerning Jersild, he contributes in connection with some ethical standpoint, but the 
responsibility is not quite as valid. Atwood describes a society in its controlling 
function. According to the students' apprehension, it is not so much a matter of 


natural science control but rather the political control of the citizens, in particular the 
reproductive function of the women. This is also confirmed through Atwood's roots 
in the dimension which concerns political acceptance, that is a method function, 
which her novel alone is carrying. Jersild shows an individual pattern in being 
represented at every surface concept pointing at those dimensions that denote 
influence and social climate. It seems that he stands for communicational ethics and 
seeks to represent the conscience of the public. He further seems to be in command of 
corporativism, possibly due to insider knowledge of medical engineering. Some 
understanding of society is hardly given by his novel, for it has too few concepts 
belonging to the first dimension. 

The deep concept movement as part of a social climate has only been marked 
as present in Huxley. This means that only in his novel there are cues to the 
comprehension of the effects of a civilisation ideology at some deeper level. In 
Jersild' s novel the personal outlooks blur the deeper civilisation problems and 
Atwood puts forward an horror vision of the methods that does not give enough 
scientific reliability. 

Figure 2. 

Futurism in Civilisation Novels 

Adjustment (H) 

Manipulation (H) 

Processing (H)(A) 



Ethics (J) 


Progress (J) 

Processing Industry (J) 
orporation (J) 

Steering (A) 


Mov ?ment (H) 

Conscience (J) 

Generalisation (J) 



Huxley writes in his preface 15 years later that "Brave New World" is lacking 
artistic unification but that a book about future can, irrespective of its artistic or 
philosophical qualities, interest us only if its prophecies seem to probably come true 
(1967, s 9,). I think it is this view on the writing task, which gives a higher 
trustworthiness to Huxley's novel, as "translation" of social matters, than to the other 
two. With this point of departure Huxley's scientific schooling becomes evident, 
without which the morality problem would not get the same sharpness. 

Jersild is placing warning flags and uses humour and satire as his means. But 
despite the medical laboratory environment the trustworthiness is lacking. The entire 
story becomes science fiction although without its ambition. Atwood is the one 
among these authors who has a humanistic schooling. She has further become known 
as a feminist. Her story is a future vision of our times, the way it would look if our 
reproduction ability would be strongly reduced. This idea becomes a functionalistic 
exaggeration, which may be an explanation to the fact that any morality component 
has not been apprehended. 

Education means that some constructive activity takes place. If as a teacher 
one wishes to mediate some constructive knowledge to students about how thoughts 
and courses of events in our history of ideas are reflected in society and which their 
consequences are or might be, literary texts play an obvious role, although not 
unreservedly. The comparison between the three novels has shown that futurism in a 
structural sense will best be apprehended through Huxley's story. He makes clear the 
way in which the natural sciences may be a means to deliberate humanity, for good 
and evil. There lies the possibility to comprehend the dimensionality or disparity 
between responsibility and systematising. This is what the movement is sensing. Or, 
as one of the students, finally, puts it: 

"Just think if, as a matter of fact, he isn't critical or moral but is suggesting 
a solution to a world wide problem?" 

A Pretentious Proposal 

The quality of teaching at various levels is a matter of controlling the structure 
characterising a subject matter or material. It is important to distinguish between 
content, which one can read out from surface features, and structure, which is the 
inner properties of a material (I. Bierschenk, 1999b). In the same way as in physics 
we can talk of a material in terms of density, firmness, and tension, similar properties 
may be attributed to a text material. Therefore, not all texts within a subject area are 
equally suitable as basis for analysis and synthesis of structural relations. 

As we see in Figure 1, a text material may be described by sub structures, 
which may be more or less nested and cover several dimensions. Futurism as social 
concept, for example, is in the deepest sense a matter of organisation - in the field of 
strain between the popular movement and an active political system. A person who 
does not apprehend the futuristic text (p. 7) as an expression of organisation does not 
have the insights required for fully accounting for the concept futurism in his/her 
teaching or examination. The teacher who is in command over the materials thus has 
the possibility to illustrate the concepts from various angles in a conscious way and 
make clear to the student the way the structure is interconnected. 

My study shows that Huxley's novel better than Atwood' s and Jersild' s 
corresponds to the concept futurism in a social sense. If we primarily assume that the 
author's intention was to construct his material in such a way that the structurally 


deep relations will emerge, then he has almost succeeded. The students have 
apprehended both systematising and movement. A perspective text analysis of the 
novel would be necessary, however, to elucidate whether the organisation concept is 
structurally rooted. 

The referred result shows what an educational situation should be: A 
consciousness from the part of the teacher about which structure will be conveyed and 
a possibility to select the material/s corresponding to it. It is far from sure that 
educators and educational materials meet each other at the right conceptual level 
today. My suggestion therefore is that the primary component for the planners of 
teaching be the science of materials construction for both natural sciences and 
humanities. With this guiding line education becomes productive. 


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Author's Note 

This article has been produced with financial support from the Danish Research 
Councils. Correspondence should be sent to Inger Bierschenk, Copenhagen 
Competence Research Centre, Copenhagen University, Njalsgade 88, DK-2300 
Copenhagen S, Denmark or via E-mail to