Overview and biography

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Michael Young Biography
Michael Young is Emeritus Professor of Education with the School of Lifelong Education &
International Development at the Institute of Education, University of London. His main
research interests are in the sociology of knowledge and its application to the curriculum with
particular reference to the post compulsory phase of education and training. He has a
continuing interest in the role of qualifications and is a Research Advisor/Consultant to the
City and Guilds of London Institute, the OECD and the Centre for Educational Sociology,
University of Edinburgh.
Seminar Overview:
Powerful Knowledge
This seminar will focus on Michael's concept of Powerful Knowledge.
“At best, we still only educate between 40% and 50% of each cohort of young people.
From the age of 14, the remainder are allowed to drift onto courses that lead them nowhere –
neither to jobs nor to further study. We assume but do not admit that they are, to various
degrees, uneducable, and so we don’t care that the courses they take, often carrying a
spurious vocational label, are worthless. We also assume that they are incapable of
benefiting from continuing their general education. No countries have solved this
problem. Some, such as the Nordic, German as well as some Asian countries, achieve more
than we do. Such inequalities are ultimately a political issue lying deep in the way most
societies have developed. We are not powerless. Schooling is a universal right and this
means much more than attendance. It is about the right of all young people to have access to
‘powerful knowledge’ – the knowledge that takes them beyond their experience and enables
them to imagine alternatives.”
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