There is certainly no shortage of educational reform advocates rightly criticising the many flawed aspects of the current educational system. Whilst many of their suggestions are moving in the right direction, the changes proposed often stop short of questioning the underlying reason for why the education system is structured the way it is to begin with.
In today’s society you must find a job to meet your life needs, regardless of whether it is something you enjoy or serves any meaningful social contribution. Work is effectively a dictatorship the minute you punch the time clock and school mirrors this dictatorial approach perfectly. Regardless of whether or not you enjoy the subject in question, you must attend or face some form of punitive measure from an authority figure for any such transgression.
Whilst you may be able to change your job or school, the limit to which your socio-economic situation will allow you to do so along with the overarching presence of hierarchy and coercion present in the socio-economic system remain in effect.
This coercion does not end when the student gets home either as Children are then forced to put in a second shift in the form of homework.
This not only adds to the toxic effect that extrinsic motivators have on the development of an intrinsic love of learning (for more information on this subject please see the article ‘A change in educational incentives’) but it has also been shown to have no significantly positive correlation in learning outcomes.
These points are made in the following talk by Alfie Kohn:
And in his book ‘The homework myth’, which is available from his website:
A letter template on this research as well as the studies into the toxic effect of punishment and rewards in teaching is included in the ‘Action in Education’ section for you to send to your local educational institutions.
The history of coercive education
Such similarities between our socio-economic, and educational system are more than mere coincidence. One cannot survive without the other and neither exists inside a vacuum. The history of modern schooling shows the intent regarding the shaping of the educational system to reflect the needs of industry.
The following video by John Taylor Gatto describes how the seeds of the current educational paradigm were intentionally devised in the Prussian educational system in the early part of the 18th century. This model was adopted by many governments around the world and many of it’s integral attributes still persist to this day:
This point regarding the servicing of the needs of industry through educational approach throughout the era of the industrial revolution and the enlightenment is summed up in the following video animation by Ken Robinson:
These overarching points are outlined in a more general fashion in the following talk by James Phillips:
Over the course of the industrial revolution, industrial requirements have been to put an emphasis on streamlining people for specific, specialised job roles. This was formalized by early operant conditioning tactics and techniques, outlined in the following documentary series ‘A century of self’:
This emphasis on extrinsic motivation via operant conditioning is emphasised in modern schooling methods in the form of grades, praise and punishment. This subject is outlined in more detail in the article ‘How do we learn?’.
One could perhaps take a cynical perspective and ask why, given the coercive nature of our current socio-economic system, would the idea of a truly autonomous education based on logic, reason and critical thinking be reinforced, when to do so would give the population the intellectual tools to question the illegitimate authority which underpins such control?
A point made by George Carlin in the following excellent clip of social commentary on the educational system and wider society in general:
Time for a change
A factor which will likely push this industrial, economic and educational outlook toward the need for some sort of change is exponential technological advancement and the subsequent replacement of human labour that goes with it.
It seems that even if you are not in favour of an NLRBE, then in any successful free market people would need to have purchasing power by being employed, and so a change in educational and business approach of the sorts recommended in the articles on this website would still surely make sense to adopt would they not? This line of argumentation is further expanded upon in the article ‘The ‘Trojan horse’ arguments for an NLRBE’.
Why radical change is needed
In a world where the 85 richest members of humanity have more money than the bottom 3.5 billion, and the entire edifice of our so called ‘economic health’ is predicated on an ever increasing rate of consumption then we must take it upon ourselves to stop elevating the narcissistic, vain and egotistical pursuit of prestige and power that pervade modern life. Furthermore we must also endevour that the next generations do not grow up to venerate the same destructive tendencies.
By making the argument for the educational and social changes detailed in the articles on this website and actively promoting these changes in our local communities and schools, we will be doing precisely this, by shifting the cultural zeitgeist away from its current destructive patterns of thought and into a more positive and sustainable direction.
If culture does reflect education and education reflects culture, then both must undergo radical change if we are to make the future a positive one for all the world people.
This is what the articles in this section will attempt to outline and what the ‘Action in Education’ section of this site will enable you to start to do.
So please do take the time to visit the ‘Action in Education’ section of this site, and join in this global initiative to go into your local schools and universities, to communicate these ideas to future generations.