Look carefully at the picture below. In what different ways could this be interpreted? Education and Ideology An Introduction David Hicks Formerly Professor at Bath Spa University Some purposes of education Knowledge ~ to pass on subject-based knowledge Reproduction ~ to ensure continuity of societal norms Workforce ~ to create a globally competitive workforce Religious ~ to adhere to a particular religious tradition Individual ~ to bring out the best in every person Global ~ to understand local-global interdependence Better world ~ to help change society for the better The concept of ideology ‘Ideology is defined as a broad interlocked set of ideas and beliefs about the world held by a group of people that they demonstrate in both behaviour and conversation to various audiences. These systems of belief are usually seen as ‘the way things really are’ by the groups holding them, and they become the taken-for-granted ways of making sense of the world.’ Meighan, R. & Harber, C. (2007) A Sociology of Educating, Continuum (p.212) Some types of ideology Government ~ e.g. democratic, one-party rule Political ~ e.g. conservative, liberal, socialist Religious ~ e.g. Christian, Islam, atheist Economic ~ e.g. capitalist, neo-liberal, green Educational ~ e.g. market driven, child-centred Dominant ideologies ‘A softer form of legitimation is in the use of major institutions, such as education, mass media, religion, law and the economy, to put over a ‘consensus’, ‘common-sense’ or ‘sensible person’s’ point of view as against the ‘lunatic fringe’ view, which turns out to be almost any view inconvenient to the group with the dominant ideology.’ Meighan, R. & Harber, C. (2007) A Sociology of Educating, Continuum (p.215) Neo-liberal ideology Human dignity and individual freedom are seen as the central values of civilisation Human nature is seen as being basically competitive and thus how the world works It is therefore rational for each person to maximise their own personal benefits Economic rationality, i.e. competition, will bring appropriate material benefits to all The state should accordingly be ‘weak’ and not interfere with the free market process Therefore what is ‘private’ is best and what is ‘public’ (i.e. state led) is to be avoided Results in a market driven view of education Impact on education Conservatives in 80s (Thatcher) and Labour in 90s (Blair) wanted greater control of education and privatisation within it. Money spent on education a waste of time unless it helps the country compete efficiently and effectively in the global market place. Stress on competition by results, e.g. SATs and league tables; focus on ‘surface’ learning, i.e. knowing how to pass exams. Market metaphors: parents as consumers, business model for education, competition brings out best in individuals and schools. Education based on a technocratic, managerial and performance driven view of teaching and learning. Example: Academies & Free Schools State education – government funds national school system through Local Authorities Funding – this used to be disbursed to all schools via Local Authorities Academies – New Labour idea to help improve failing schools via private funding The Coalition – as many schools as possible should aim to become academies Funding – goes directly to schools instead of via the Local Authority Control – Head and governors, i.e. free from control by Local Authority Staffing – Set teachers’ salaries and can hire non-qualified teachers Curriculum – Set their own curriculum and buy in services as they choose Free schools – by parents, teachers or faith groups, same freedom as academies Purpose – greater freedom and choice for schools to follow their own preferences Free-market - privatised view of education v. collegiality of state led initiatives Opposition – comes from teachers’ unions and academics, low take-up by schools ‘Welfare state’ ideology Stresses the importance of cooperation and responsibility for welfare of others esp. the less fortunate. Argues that the state/ government has a key role to play in promoting the welfare of all society. A quite different view of society and thus education. Education thus importantly seen as a service offered by professionals (teachers) to the community – not as a commodity to be sold. Education seen as having important role to play in exploring self and society. In particular in questioning issues of inequality and injustice in the local and global community. Neoliberals are opposed to this progressive notion of education and have thus strenuously opposed it so that from the 80s onwards the neoliberal view of education has become predominant in the west. Examples of two educational ideologies reflecting such values follow. Learner-centred education Based on the work of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, pioneers in developing the field of humanistic psychology in mid-C20th Stresses importance of helping each and every learner develop their full potential in life, whatever that may be Fundamental belief in innate ‘goodness’ of human beings and the possibility of achieving self-realisation Focuses on positive sense of self-worth and developing a wide range of interpersonal skills These include: self-reflection, active listening, emotional literacy, clear communication and conflict resolution skills Each individual is thus better able to contribute to the well-being of society Impact on students/schools Self-esteem ~ pupils that are happier and more confident in themselves Behaviour ~ lower levels of bad and inappropriate behaviour in the classroom and playground Learning ~ more competent, interested and capable learners Attendance ~ more regular and higher levels of attendance Standards ~ raised levels of achievement across all areas of the curriculum School ethos ~ a happier, more supportive and efficient educational community Pride ~ a school in which all pupils, teachers and parents can contribute and be heard Example: responding to bullying Bullying generally has the following features: i) it is repetitive and persistent; ii) it is intentionally hurtful; iii) it involves an imbalance in power, leaving someone feeling helpless to stop it; iv) it causes feelings of distress, fear, loneliness and lack of confidence. Teachers respond in four main ways: i) dismissive: making light of the incident and thereby condoning the behaviour; ii) punitive: punishment without any explanation of why bullying is wrong; iii) corrective: saying it’s wrong and filling in the forms; iv) restorative and transformative: enabling offenders to take active responsibility for their actions. ‘Global citizenship’ education It is impossible to make sense of life in our own communities unless we understand the wider context of local-global interdependence How does the wider world affect life in your own community? How is your community related to the rest of the world? Importance of exploring issues to do with inequality, human rights, sustainable futures In particular climate change, energy issues, resource depletion and ecological damage Informed citizens need to understand these issues and how to prepared for a future that will be very different from today This long-standing tradition is based on the belief that education has a crucial role to play in the improvement of society Impact on students/schools Local community ~ greater interest in, awareness of and participation in issues relating to the school and community Global community ~ greater interest in, awareness of and participation in issues relating to the international community Links and learning ~ more direct involvement with other schools and communities around the world Knowledge and understanding ~ confidence in understanding issues in the news and how they relate to everyday life Responsible citizenship ~ willingness to play a part in helping to resolve issues in the local-global community School ethos ~ a school and community which knows its worth and that it is helping to create a better society Example: Education for sustainability All global issues transcend subject boundaries but all subject areas can contribute in different ways to their resolution The overarching local-global problem today is that of unsustainability, i.e. human lifestyle choices which cause damage to both people and the biosphere Your future will be very different from today as a result of the impacts of climate change, peak oil and resource depletion on the local and global community Government Chief Scientist warned of ‘perfect storm’ of problems by 2030: food shortages, water scarcity, insufficient energy resources leading to public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration Learning to think critically and creatively about the future and how to shift from a high to low carbon future is the most vital issue facing society and educators today Changing self, changing society Robin Richardson reminds us of the importance of these two latter traditions, one focusing on self and the other on society ~ ‘Both traditions are concerned with wholeness and holistic thinking, but neither, arguably, is complete without the other. There cannot be wholeness in individuals independently of strenuous attempts to heal rifts and contradictions in wider society and in the education system. Conversely, political struggle to create wholeness in society – that is, equality and justice in dealings and relationships between social classes, between countries, between ethnic groups, between women and men – is doomed to no more than partial success and hollow victories, at best, if it is not accompanied by, and if it does not in its turn strengthen and sustain, the search for wholeness and integration in individuals.’ Richardson, R. (1991) Daring to be a Teacher, Trentham Books Where do you stand? All human action is underpinned by conscious or unconscious beliefs about human nature and how the world works Such beliefs are shared by large groups of people and dominant ideologies become seen as simply ‘normal’ or just ‘obvious’ This applies to society generally as well as specific areas of society such as economics or education Two competing ideologies and their influence on schools introduced, with examples of their differing focus and impact Is the main purpose of education to create i) willing consumers; ii) well-balanced individuals; iii) a more sustainable future; iii) other? How has this session affected your view of education? How may it affect your future professional studies? Where do you stand?