Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A Rational Curriculum (We don't need no education.)

What is education for? What a crap question.

Education's purpose: the perpetuation of power?
Education isn't for anything but survival.  Education isn't an outcome or a product; it's a tool whose only purpose is to enable individuals and cultures to self-perpetuate and to grow.  It isn't the sum of all that can be learned, but the process of learning itself.  It isn't the communication or acquisition of a defined set of facts, but the development of language and skills needed to solve problems.

Education is amoral and impersonal.  It is a tool just as well suited to the building as to the knocking down of walls, and especially adept at maintaining a wall's strength.

To say that someone has had a good or a poor education isn't a judgment of their ability to answer decontextualised questions in a test, pub quiz or game show.  Too often it is a simple shorthand for what school a person went to, and not what they learned there.

To make a statement about the quality of someone's education is to judge their ability to navigate the world they live in, from achieving economic independence to projecting authority, from holding a conversation with a stranger, to making sense of who they are and how they fit in.

Education is the ability to solve problems: academic and practical, personal and social.  To mistake education for the acquired ability to engage in powerful discourse is to accept and acquiesce to the legitimacy of that discourse and of those who have the luxury to partake in it, those whose survival is all but guaranteed, not by education but by power itself (seldom earned, often inherited, always guarded).

Education happens in and out of school, with and despite school, and in the end, regardless of school.

To pontificate on what education is for is really to do a disservice to schools.  It is the most shameless way to pull up the ladder behind you when you get over the wall, and those particularly guilty of it tend to be those most likely to be called well educated.  In fact, they are not the educated but the powerful, and the pontification serves only to protect that power, be they the People's Capitalist and his disruptors, the Knight Errant of Creativity, or the members of the Education Select Committee.

What is school for?  Now that's a good question.

If any part of the answer is to impart social justice and a fairer distribution of power in a modern democracy, then we must rid ourselves of the tyranny of the global language of education, and re-focus our attentions on our local schools.

Then, perhaps, we can assail the wall with as many ladders as will make it irrelevant, or knock it down altogether.

Then, perhaps we can begin to move away from a national curriculum towards a rational one.

Until then, sing it with me, teachers.  You know the chorus.

All in all
we are all
just bricks in the wall.

(That's how it went, isn't it?)

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