Medieval Sickness and Modern Education

Education Matters
Mar 24, 2020 · 1 min read

During a recent visit to the AGORA research centre at the University of Helsinki, Ansgar Allen explored contrasts between medieval Christian conceptions of sickness as education and modern conceptions of education and health.

Ansgar argued that education, in modernity, functions as a synonym for health. In the modern period, our period, sickness has no positive, productive role in education. It is assumed that education is allied with health to such an extent that good education is what combats ill-health in all its forms; individual, social, political and economic.

In the medieval context, by contrast, sickness had an explicit educational function. Sickness provided opportunities to learn about the fallen condition of humanity. It performed a positive role in the education of the individual as a form of divine intervention and tutelage.

From the perspective of our present, this could not be more alien. Sickness has lost its educative function. It has become something education must inevitably oppose.

Ansgar argued that this assumption conditions educational critique. It operates as a fundamental constraint, making it difficult for us to place education in question. Moving beyond conventional modes of analysis, he argued that other approaches will be necessary, drawing from genealogy, literary theory and experiments in post-critical analysis.

Dr Ansgar Allen is a lecturer and PhD Programme Director at the School of Education.


Research at the School of Education, University of…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store