Thursday, 30 August 2012

A Critical Pedagogy
Education as Schooling.

In the future, there will be increasing demands for different priorities to rule social life and economies across the globe. For example, the search for oil has to be controlled and required to take account of local conditions. It is no longer acceptable for oil companies to move into an area and drill, and let the oil-water waste to leach into the soil and the rivers. Nor for exploration companies to ‘frack’ oil sands and oil shales…..that is, inject water into strata and set off explosions, and cause quakes!  Rich countries, such as Saudi Arabia or South Korea or China will not be allowed to move into other lands and buy up farm lands for crops for their own home populations. In these situations local communities will be advised to find out how to stop exploitation. This will need opportunities for education and learning.

As someone who worked in the education industry in the UK for forty years, I have to accept that many debates about education are rooted in the societies of Western Europe and the USA, where schools and colleges have been built, pupils are waiting to go to school, and teachers have been trained, and are ready to teach.
The conventional views in these societies are that ‘schooling’ is the most effective way of either maintaining standards or improving standards of performance, or skill levels; or bringing about changes in social attitudes; monitoring the values of pupils and bringing about changes in behaviour. ‘Schooling’ involves teachers directing pupils to behave in acceptable, approved, legal ways: the standards are set by the officers of the government, and applied by the school system under the rules of a National Curriculum. ‘Schooling’ does not involve the pupils making choices nor exercising preferences. It is based on pupils doing as they are told, and being punished if they do not. The long term effect of this approach is that we are all conditioned to behave according to the rules when in the presence of ‘authority’, and behaving differently when amongst our families and friends or colleagues. Such inconsistencies are totally unacceptable in a world in which social changes are the keystone to ‘a better world’. It follows that ‘schooling’ is not an effective way of educating our citizens.

Ivan Illich wanted to de-school society,1971, and did not identify 'learning' with 'schooling'. In fact he saw the reverse. By being forced to go to school, the pupil is thereby "schooled"; the pupil confuses teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to repeat something. His imagination is "schooled" to accept service in place of value. Schooling - the production of prescribed knowledge, the marketing of knowledge, which is what the school amounts to, draws society into the trap of thinking that knowledge is hygienic, pure, respectable, deodorized, produced by human heads and amassed in making school compulsory, [people] are schooled to believe that the self-taught individual is to be discriminated against; that learning and the growth of cognitive capacity require a process of consumption of services presented in an industrial, a planned, a professional form;... that learning is a thing rather than an activity. A thing that can be amassed and measured, the possession of which is a measure of the productivity of the individual within the society, that is: of his social value.            
The vast majority of people who are demanding ‘an education’, today, as well as social changes, live in the ‘developing world’ and are poor, trying to survive on less than $10 a day and more likely $1 a day. The debates should be about, what are the relevant forms of educational provision for over 6 billion people; including 2.4 billion children; 1 billion starving, and 2.6 billion without secure water supplies?
Should these peoples be schooled? Or educated? And by whom?
Their prime concerns will be survival, day to day?  But as more and more international corporations and government agencies penetrate the lands of the Amazon,  the Yangtze,  the Nile,  the Ganges,  the Andes,  the tundra of Canada and Russia, the hot deserts of the Sahara, and Australia, and the steppes of Russia, China, and Africa, and the cold lands of Greenland, in search of more and more resources, the concerns of the indigenous peoples, and the poor majority, will be security and protection, human rights, property rights, alternative agricultures, alternative land exploitation, water use and sanitation, medical services, finances, and education.  The indigenous peoples of the world can no longer live in isolation. They are being invaded by multi-national corporations and government sponsored projects for energy and minerals and foods. They need help to enable them to fight exploitation, and to preserve their sustainable lives, as well as to develop other systems of farming. They need to be ‘educated’ and liberated! Not schooled and dominated.

We have to think about the pedagogy of the poor, and the indigenous peoples across the globe. What will be the best provision?
Problems emerge from the start. The officers of governments, and members of ruling families, have almost certainly benefited from the education services of western democracies, attended private schools, and gone to University in the west. Their models of best practices will be based on the formal institutions of the UK, France, Germany, the old colonial countries, and the USA or Russia. When faced with the tasks of establishing a national education service they will utilize the systems of the developed world, with their national curricula, formal exams, and educational meritocracies supported by examinations and recognized qualifications. They will introduce and develop systems of schooling that are not particularly relevant to their home countries.
When we think about these characteristics of government education services, it becomes clear that they are irrelevant to many learners in the ‘developed world’ too, and totally irrelevant to the poor communities across the world. In fact, the  education services that are currently in operation are best seen as systems of control and schooling.
The pedagogy of the poor will require different ways of thinking about education and learning.

Confucius [450BC] stated: Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember.
 Involve me and I will understand.

No comments:

Post a Comment