Modern pedagogy, as distinguished particularly from Enlightenment theories, is characterized by an effort to reconnect the content of education (what is taught) to the particular experience of individuals who learn. From Dilthey to Dewey, the notion of experience (Erlebnis) has become the core of pedagogy, which tends increasingly to become a theory of self-education. However, pedagogues rarely question the notion of experience itself. Walter Benjamin has engaged with this question in various ways throughout his career. In his view, it is precisely the inadequacy of traditional notions of experience to account for the individual’s relation to the world in modernity that blocks any theory of self-education and leads to cultural reification.

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