Military Education Reconsidered: A Postmodern Update

Author: Anders Sookermany

Abstract: It is commonly accepted that the nature of military operations is one of such character that no matter how well you prepare there will still be an expectation of having to deal with the unknown and unforeseen. Accordingly, there seem to be reasons for arguing that preparations for the unpredictable should play a critical role in military education. Yet, military education as we know it seems to be characterized by a rather classic modernist view on education, which promotes an environment of learning that embraces uniformity and enhances scenario based pre-planned drills as ways of conducting military operations.

In this paper I will argue an alternative perspective, one that embraces difference rather than uniformity as a means of developing military units and their soldiers. In doing so I will ground my argument in the academic discourse on postmodern education. It is my understanding that educational practices prone to postmodern thinking are embedded in narratives sensitive to constructivism, complexity and contextualism, and thus use emancipation, deconstruction, vocabulary, dialogue, diversity and aesthetics as pedagogical strategies in their creation of ‘new’ meaning. A discussion of these strategies in relation to the topic of ‘the unpredictable’ constitutes the main body of this paper.

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