Page 1

VOX voxjournal.co.uk

The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

Published termly by the Club of PEP at the University of York

Issue XI- Spring 2010


VOX

voxjournal.co.uk

The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

The Club of

PEP Journal

ISSUE XI - Spring 2010

Education

ESSAY

PAGE

Education as a Carrier of Ideology By Adam Czopp

6

Another Brick in the Wall By Roy Moore

10

Global Citizenship Education: Politics, Problems and Prospects By Professor Michael A. Peters

15

myths of our time By Professor James Avis

20

EDUCATION FOR CULTURE By Clement Wee

24

Capability and Educational Equality By Dr Lorella Terzi

28

THE VALUE OF EDUCATION IN A CHANGING SOCIETY By Associate Professor Ana Ferrer

32

Photo credit: fotolia.com


At an early stage of human life, education is realised within the family, with the main aim being to learn codes, language, signs and desirable behaviours. Adam Czopp on education and ideology

by Leonie Gavria


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

VOX

The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

EDITORIAL

N

“ __________________ VOX is a student journal that serves as a platform for insight into topics relating to Politics, Economics and Philosophy (PEP). The essence of VOX is its interdisciplinary approach to each edition’s issue. VOX is published triannually by the Club of PEP at the University of York and distributed on York’s campus as well as other universities in the UK. __________________ Thanks to: Elena Villarreal Adam Czopp Luke Smalley Spencer Thompson Fay Farstad Simon Fuchs Magda Assanowicz Alexandra Aninoiu Christina Dimakoulea



OW, WHAT I WANT IS, FACTS. Teach these boys and girls nothing but facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.” So spoke Mr Gradgrind, the infamous headmaster in Charles Dickens’s Hard Times. Of course education is far more than the acquisition of information and this edition’s authors, like Dickens himself, are very aware of this. Malcolm Forbes declared the purpose of education is replacing “…an empty mind with an open one.” I hope that the issue lives up to this goal and that you enjoy reading it. This term’s theme for VOX is ‘Education’ and its contents broadly fall into three categories. First, three articles explore the unrecognised content and goals of schooling systems. One article provides exploration of how ideologies are supported by education (p.6) and another argues for the importance of teaching cultural and ethical values (p.24). Then there is an essay portraying education as a means of promoting conformity (p.10). The next category concerns the requirements imposed on education when promoting equality (p.28) and global citizenship (p.15). Lastly, there are articles looking at the economics of education (p.20 and p.32). This will be my last issue as editor. Elena and Adam will take over as editor and co-editor respectively. I’d like to wish them all the best. So the only job that remains is to thank everyone who has worked on VOX with me over the year, whether in the committee, the Club of PEP or simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s been great fun and I couldn’t have done it without your help. Thank you very much. If you would like to get involved in producing VOX, by helping with production or by submitting an article, please contact us at vox@clubofpep.org. Further details on the back cover. Cameron Dwyer Editor


Issue XI - Spring 2010

Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another. Gilbert K. Chesterton

An education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on. Terry Pratchett

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten. B. F. Skinner

Education is like a double-edged sword. It may be turned to dangerous uses if it is not properly handled. 

Wu Ting-Fang


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

Education as a Carrier of Ideology By Adam Czopp To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks. A. A. Milne

M

ilne’s quote contains some fundamental TRUTH – WHAT

we perceive is only an interpretation of reality, the interpretation we were all taught in the process of a multi-layered education. When one thinks of education, things like lifting people out of poverty, better job prospects technology improving our everyday lives, and countless other benefits instantly spring to mind. I will try to highlight what is, for many, an unknown aspect of education: that it serves as a car

rier of the prevailing ideology, defined as a broad category of social beliefs and desires, in the context of a given historical period (Harcourt, Edward et al, 2001). I have outlined, according to my opinion, the three main functions by which education realises itself as the carrier of ideology: it is a means to sustain and reproduce the conditions necessary for continuity of ideology, to protect from counter-ideological elements and to enable the transmission of ideology.


Issue XI - Spring 2010

Intergenerational Sustainability Sustainability of the state’s ideology requires a reproduction of the labour force, subordinated to the rules of the system, and possessing the required qualifications (Althussere, 1976). Humans, from the very moment of conception, become subjects of social categories and the projects of others, e.g. name, nationality, gender, and race. They enter the world, not as tabula rasa, but as objects of the pre-paved cultural world, being prescribed certain attributes and expectations, crucial to operate within the existing social order. As Althussere claims, individuals do not make the world they live in, they are born into it and from birth they reproduce the patterns of long-existing thoughts and customs (cited in Mannheim, 1936). At an early stage of human life, education is realised within the family, with the main aim being to learn codes, language, signs and desirable behaviours. This is where the submission to the rules starts and is further developed by educational institutions, where the reproduction of qualifications accompanies it. Since this reproduction takes place from generation to generation in a spirit of solidarity of attitudes and beliefs, deeply entrenched from childhood, the ideological state apparatus can be sustained. In a capitalist state ideology development is being realised by technological progress. A basic assumption of modern economics, taught to prob-

ably every social science student, is that when needs are endless, education is the guarantee of continuous progress. Education makes production more efficient, as higher order needs are satisfied in a shorter time. The backbone of this progress is educational institutions that equip students with skills tailored to current market needs in the spirit of Smith’s concept of benefits of specialisation. Knowledge becomes merely a means to achieve ideology’s objectives, and subjects are treated instrumentally – a philosophy which ancient Greeks considered as a worthy end itself (their “love of wisdom”), in modern times usually plays an instrumental role to develop “marketable skills” (e.g. soughtafter analytical thinking) to benefit an individual’s future career. Educational establishments now resemble firms selling products (skills) rather than the fertile grounds for thriving ideas that they used to be. World War II provides a very vivid illustration of the importance of education in the sustainment of an ideological state apparatus. Communists strived to completely eradicate intelligence on occupied territories and destroy educational establishments. They introduced programs of intensified russification, censorship and forbade lectures in the languages of conquered countries. The objective of these actions was to discontinue the reproduction of unwanted ideology, and once that was achieved, replace it with the communist ideology. Soviets 


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

were aware that education serves as a matrix for the production of adherents to ideology, and the best way to conquer an enemy is to convert him to your side – the whole Communist Block, spreading over 22 mln km2 of land inhabited by 290 mln people, was based on this idea. Defence Against Counter Elements The educational carrier of ideology has superseded violence and repression so prevalent in the old ideological systems. In place of physical repression came symbolic violence, which is the act of instruction, which dictates the desired cultural scheme to students (Rothstein, 1991). Obedience to instructions is internalized by students and thus there is little or no rebellion against the imposed ideology in comparison to the old systems of physical repression. Rothstein (1991, vii) writes: “ … the schools that capitalism establishes have a primary interest: the development of an ideology and culture that make it natural for students to accept proletarianization.” Lack of education in the prevailing ideology is punished by a whole spectrum of social repressions, from mockery to exclusion from the community. Education teaches that one has to play according to the rules to get respect and cooperation, which are indispensable for survival. Education has also proved to be the best defence against counterideologies. In Medieval history, the 

Christian Church defended its ideological apparatus by preventing access to any alternative world views - the index of forbidden books is an example of such a practice. Those who were preaching anything incompatible with the Church’s teachings were proclaimed heretics and burned on pyres. The capitalist ideology learned from these mistakes and adopted education as a means to integrate any counter-elements into the ideology itself. The elements that, at first glance, may pose a risk to the system, such as spiritualism, metaphysics or alternative ways of life, are no longer contradictory to the prevailing ideology, and as Marcuse (1964) puts it: “They are rather the ceremonial part of practical behaviourism, its harmless negation, and are quickly digested by the status quo as part of its healthy diet.” Education about those seemingly dangerous elements has managed to internalize them, and since all of those ‘contradictions’ are within the ideology, they do not pose any risk and are rather treated like exotic curiosities. Transmission of Ideology History shows that adherents to any ideology tried to spread it over as many people as possible. Education seemed to be a natural choice, as extermination is not the means to reproduce necessary elements for the continuity of ideology: extermination erases adherents to old beliefs, and at the same time, eliminates the potential transmitters


Issue XI - Spring 2010

of new beliefs. In the past, there was the example of the USSR, trying to paint the world map red, spreading its ideology to every country to make it permanent and ubiquitous, and thus the most powerful. In the modern world, capitalist ideology is sprawling everywhere. China, being educated about the importance of economic success, gradually shakes off the artefacts of the old system and turns towards liberalism and market economy. Our education also entered Ethiopia, reducing mortality, increasing life expectancy, and stimulating GDP growth, which in 2008 was an impressive 11.6% (CIA, 2009). The price of these achievements is adopting capitalist ideology and abandonment of the traditional style of living and values associated with it. In the past Romans referred to countries with different ideology as ‘barbarians’, as the wild and uneducated in the wonders and virtues of (according to the Roman Empire) the supreme ideology. In the modern world, countries that did not adapt capitalist ideology and retained their traditional ideology (often based on the nomadic style of living of our ancestors) were until recently called ‘The Third World’. Conclusion Being aware of the past abuses of education for often harmful ideological purposes, one might be tempted to question the need for education altogether. However, education is in-

dispensable: transfer of skills from generation to generation enabled small hunter-gatherer communities to survive and evolve. Animals teach their offspring basic skills such as food gathering or recognising predators to ensure the continuity of the species. Education is undoubtedly at the core of survival for living beings. Rothstein (1991:1) said: “… To think of schools as centres of instruction and rationalism is to ignore their ideological basis. Educational systems cannot exist in a vacuum …” This underlines the importance of the influence that ideology has on education and the fact that education itself is nothing but a carrier. The content of this carrier is what really matters, and what makes education a blessing or a curse. Bibliography: Althussere, L. (1969) “Ideologies and Ideological State Apparatuses”. Positions, Editions sociales. Harcourt, Edward et al (2000) ‘Morality, Reflection, and Ideology’. Oxford University Press Marcuse, H. (1964) “One-dimensional Man”. T.J. Press Rothstein, S.W. (1991) “Identity and Ideology: Sociocultural Theories of Schooling”. Greenwood Publishing Group Inc. The World Factbook (2009), CIA ( https:// www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-worldfactbook, accessed 14/12/2009 )

_____________________________ Adam Czopp is a second year undergraduate reading Economics and Philosophy at the University of York. 


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

Another Brick in the Wall

drawing by Christian Edler

By Roy Moore

I

t is often assumed that the purpose of education is to learn.

Another popular justification is to pro10

vide practical skills for a person’s chosen career, and therefore it is considered justifiable to coerce people into


Issue XI - Spring 2010

schooling from early childhood. As many people fought hard for the right to education, particularly free education, there is an attachment to (and hope placed in) the school system. It seems, however, that what people learn sometimes goes beyond any stated curriculum or subject taught in school. The biggest and most lasting lessons are those of discipline and control; normalised values which are suitable for later jobs. Class reunions and experiments in which adults play the role of students again consistently lead to a regression displaying those well-learned lessons. If the particulars of Science, Maths and English have been forgotten, the lessons of punctuality, wearing the uniform, and other similar measures of conformity have not been. In this vein, sociologist Audrey Devine-Eller of Rutgers University described how the theory of the panopticon can be applied to education. Originally Jeremy Bentham’s design for a prison, the panopticon, has a guard tower with 360-degree vision in the middle of circular prison cells and works on the idea of each prisoner believing they are being surveyed at all times. Devine-Eller notes that even in the architecture of the school there is a symbolic panopticon, seen both in the headmaster’s place at the centre and in the manner in which all students must face the teacher. Though co-operative learning and other such concepts involve the students group-

ing together, and have been shown to enhance learning, memory and similar skills, such methods make it harder to control students and their learning, perhaps explaining why these methods have not been adopted more. What has been standardised, however, are exams, values and judgements. It is the normalisation of such things which results in education looking more like a method of control and standardisation of students, rather than as a genuine attempt to impart knowledge. Audrey Devine-Eller brings out these issues further, noting that “elementary school education coincides with a developmental stage at approximately 6-10 years when children learn the value of rules” (DevineEller pp.3). Essentially this seems to show that “the skills students acquire through discipline in the school are central to becoming ‘productive’ participants in the labour force. Modern workers must know the timetable, for instance, and their bodies must be trained to respect the 8-hour, 5-day workweek... [and they are rewarded or punished] according to the quality or level of their production.” (Ibid. pp. 9) This aspect of reward and punishment is crucial to understanding the aspects of control elicited at school. A person is only accepted within the classroom if they exhibit the behaviours demanded by the teacher, namely being “docile and respectful... [showing a] deference to authority” and similar passive characteristics. Previously, more coercive 11


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

elements such as corporal punishment were common, but as public opinion evolves, so do the practices of the school to some extent. Therefore, the education system has a very influential element of control attached to it, existing as a tool of those running such institutions to propagate the values they desire. Those children who submit, obey, or otherwise appear cooperative are rewarded with praise from the teacher, certificates, qualifications, and being recognised as the ‘brightest’ students, they belong to the higher sets. Those who rebel against the system itself usually belong to the lower sets, are identified as such, and are eventually classed as failures. Such a classification appeals directly to the self-esteem of the child in rewarding and punishing behaviour, not their ability, thus being methods of control rather than of learning. If children are a tabula rasa, such social inclusion, rewards from a perceived authority, and their status according to their performance at school appear not only normal, but desirable, despite the deeper appearance of control. In such a false consciousness, there is a Gramscian style of mixing coercion and consent. Control has extended to the school as an institution; indeed this deference to authority seems to be the most fundamental aspect taught, and the most remembered lesson (Gramsci 1971). Devine-Eller notes that with the standardisation of tests, classrooms 12

and teaching styles, it becomes easier to rank students, and thus easier to decide between potential applicants for jobs. If producing such workers is the purpose of education, then such measures of control and discipline make sense; but this does not sit well with the proclaimed goals of education, and coercing people to live through 16 years or more of such education suddenly appears unjust. If education is to remain a moral institution then this should be recognised as a negative consequence. Such methods of standardisation do not increase learning itself, but rather serve as a method “to make each student visible to power as the object of power” (Ibid. pp.11).

Those students who wish to do well, then, must conform; As such, each student “can see their position in the hierarchy at a glance, without a teacher-judge to place them in that rank. The operation of power thus becomes ever more invisible and efficient; it appears to individuals that they place themselves in the hierarchy”, and most importantly, then, “individuals to some extent also remediate themselves” if they do not rank highly (Ibid. pp.13-14). On the scale of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, such self-identification and self-realisation is the highest of psychological needs a person has, and so it is no surprise that so many believe themselves to be more


Issue XI - Spring 2010

intelligent based on the results of such exams (Maslow 1943). Those students who wish to do well, then, must conform; believing that to attain success, to find a good job, or whatever their goal, they must conform to the examination procedure. Such rankings appear to show the extent to which a person has conformed rather than the innate intelligence of the student. That so many people who are considered so important, such as Albert Einstein, rejected standardised education as stifling creativity attests to the conclusion that exams do not show a level of learning, intelligence or creativity, which are perhaps the more ideal and abstract goals of education, but rather how obedient and suitable for particular jobs a certain person is - a goal preferable to those with power in the struggle between capital and labour. There are, however, those who rebel against the system. Many of those are deemed as failures and as such achieve little influence with which to effect change. But before giving up on students who may be bright but disobedient, there are plenty of methods to remediate the student: “[the] bad behaviour of the student is a legitimate reason for the questioning of the parents and of the neighbours, thus extending the school’s power of surveillance far outside the school” (Ibid. pp.11). They will thus be rewarded for their ability but disciplined for their

behaviour. The standardisation of norms is consolidated and the eventual chastisement of the pupil serves as a deterrent for others, whether it is in reduced grades, demoted sets or (most extremely) expulsion - all meaThe Club of PEP Journal sures affecting the very psychology of the child. With the school, friends and parents pressuring each child to conform, it comes as little surprise that few people effectively rebel against this system and that few challenges against it exist. In the centralisation of policymaking, government has standardised not only classrooms and exams, but the students and their judgements and values too. One piece of work receives an ‘A’ if that person deems it worthy, and the standardisation of exams, grades, and therefore the ranking of students, has “thus extended the reach of power into the minute place of individuals’ lives that law left untouched, by making everything – or almost everything – punishable.” (Ibid. pp.12) Those who do criticise such standardisation often do so from a highly creative form; films, art, and particularly music do so regularly. However, when you analyse the purpose of anything from its design, daily activity and results (for education this being the architecture, tests and standardised rankings of students) it becomes clear what the real motives are. The dull repetition and learning from rote appear more as an end than as a 13


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

method of learning. The rise of Fordian systems of manufacture coinciding with the universality and standardisation of education perhaps inevitably evolves into schools training workers rather than students. Although there are many more effective techniques of learning, including creative methods of visualisation, and peg or loci systems of memory, such creativity and effectiveness is ignored in favour of methods which get a person used to dull, repetitive tasks, which they are really being trained for. Of course education is useful for many people, and there are plenty of people worldwide who walk miles to school every day and feel privileged to do so because of the poverty of their situation. Such qualifications do improve the lives of many, and seeing this first hand in the Philippines and Kenya it becomes obvious that education is a real way of improving the lives of many people. The problem is that the poverty exists not because of the ignorance of the people, but the bad governance of current and past leaders, including, and perhaps most importantly, former European or American colonial and postcolonial masters. Education provided by such powers will not bring about improvement for everyone, as that is not their motive. If we agree that school should ideally be geared towards producing creativity and knowledge, rather than people trained for specific jobs, then it is possible, if not necessary, to improve 14

the education system. As a tool of government, education is incredibly powerful in shaping judgements and values, while leaving the decision-makers invisible. With more power to teachers and students, reducing government to its proper place of funder and investor, it will become possible for education to stimulate creative discourse and progress. Perhaps this is necessary to solve many of the current problems caused by the hierarchically compliant system in which we find ourselves. Bibliography: Audrey Devine-Eller 2004 Applying Foucault to Education, available at: http://www.eden.rutgers.edu/~auderey/Apply ing%20Foucault%20to%20Education.pdf, last accessed 04:06 6/1/2010 Antonio Gramsci Prison Notebooks copyright Geoffrey Nowell Smith and Quintin Hoare 1971 A.H. Maslow, A Theory of Human Motivation, Psychological Review 50(4) (1943):370-96.

_____________________________ Roy Moore is a third year undergraduate student reading PPE at the University of York


Issue XI - Spring 2010

Global Citizenship Education: Politics, Problems and Prospects By Professor Michael A. Peters

I

n Global Citizenship cation (Peters et al,

Edu-

2008) I noted that the modern concept of citizenship, a recent concept historically, implies the existence of a civil or political community, a set of rights and obligations ascribed to citizens by virtue of their membership in that community, and an ethic of participation and solidarity needed to sustain it. Most traditional accounts of citizenship begin with the assertion of basic civil, political and social rights of individuals and note the way in which the modern concept, as inherently egalitarian, took on a universal appeal with the development of the liberal tradition, which is often understood as synonymous with modernity. Yet the concept has appealed to both conservatives and radical democrats: the former emphasize individual freedom at the expense of equality and see state intervention as an intolerable and unwarranted violation of the freedom of the individual while the latter stress the democratic potential of citizenship. Increasingly, on the left the concept has been seen as a means to control the injustices of capitalism. For the left, the most

pressing question has been the status of citizenship in the modern state and what kind of political community best promotes it.

Global citizenship education requires an understanding of citizenship and human rights (...) In relation to these issues there are a set of pressing philosophical and conceptual problems at the heart of the philosophy, theory, and pedagogy of global citizenship education that require investigation. I do not have the time to dwell on them here but can at least mention them. Global citizenship education (GCE) requires an understanding of citizenship and human rights as ‘international norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, and social abuses’ (Nickle, 2006). GCE therefore requires an understanding of ‘The philosophy of human rights addresses questions about the existence, content, nature, universality, justification, and legal status of human rights’ (Nickle, 2006) 15


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

together with the history of struggle and international human rights law and organizations. What are rights? What are human rights? How do we distinguish between different kinds of rights—civil and political rights, social rights, minority and group rights, environment rights? These philosophical questions are important and students at all levels need to be taught the main approaches and theories of rights. They also need to understand the historical specificity of the struggle for rights as well as the global significance of the Black struggle for equality and civil rights in the U.S., the importance of the struggle for indigenous rights, women’s rights, cultural rights and children’s rights—what Norberto Bobbio (1989), the late Italian professor of jurisprudence called The Age of Rights. We might also inquire with Jacques Rancière (2004) ‘Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man?’ i In addition, GCE might also begin to foreground the development of international organizations associated with the development of human rights including the UN and its agencies and the International Court of Criminal Justice, a European initiative established in 2002 that does not yet carry the signatures of USA and China. ii In Global Citizenship Education (Peters et al, 2008) I noted that at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the world experiences processes of both integration and disintegration. 16

The expansion of world markets as a form of economic globalization can be understood as a process of integration composed of international flows of capital, goods, information, and people. The same process is both a form of economical integration and a polarization of wealth that exacerbates existing tendencies toward greater global inequalities between rich and poor countries and regions. It also accentuates the need for reviewing the templates of the global system of governance that emerged with the Bretton Woods agreement, which founded many of the world institutions that comprised the architecture of the postwar world system. Now, more than at any time in the past, with the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet system, the consolidation of the EU, the entry of China into the WTO, and the growth of India, we are witnessing an accelerated set of changes – economic, cultural, technological and political – that impinge on one another in novel ways and create new possibilities and dangers both for the democratic state and the notions of citizenship and national identity that underpin it. In the U.S. under the neocons, and the U.K. under the so-called Third Way, a mantle inherited by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, there has been a shift from the concept of rights to responsibilities and a move away from state intervention towards the market and the construction of ‘consumer-


Issue XI - Spring 2010

citizens’ who are increasingly forced to invest in themselves at critical points in their life-cycle (education, work, retirement) or go into debt. At the same time there has been a shift to the third sector with community and church involvement in the definition of social welfare policy and an emphasis on giving, gifting and voluntary work often thinly disguising a moral re-regulation of social life, especially of single women and their children. Increasingly, with the development of information and communications technologies, there has been a rise in state surveillance and, especially after 9/11, an erosion of liberal rights and a shift from active political citizenship to passive political literacy; concomitantly, the same technologies have supported new public spaces and civil networks that are interest-based and transcend the geography of face-to-face communities and even larger collectivities like states.

I have come to think that the new movement referred to as Open Education Resources, what I prefer to call simply Open Education, has the potential to encourage and shape global civil society. I am currently at work on a book with Peter Roberts, called The Virtues of Openness (Paradigm, 2010). iii At one point I had conceived a book project with the title Old America, New Europe, inverting Rumsfield’s notorious comment, because what I perceived was an old style defensive modernity developing strongly under the US neoconservatives—with the largest reorganization of several government departments as Homeland Security that focused on surveillance, constant war alert, strengthening borders, etc. Even the preemptive first strike doctrine was in defense of American values and American identity, if the neoconservative play on 17


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

Leo Strauss is to be believed—both the ‘war on terror’ abroad and the ‘war on culture’ at home. I think these two are systematically linked and show, for instance, the transparent and openly ideological nature of Lynne Cheney’s attack on the History Standards and on, (dare I say it?) ‘postmodernism’ or ‘Foucault’ as the source of the value crisis that confronted America. Remember that Strauss, at one time a student of Heidegger, whom he regarded very highly, perceived the crisis of modernity as predominantly a crisis of values. The three waves of modernity symbolized in Hobbes, Rousseau and Nietzsche had led, respectively, to liberalism, socialism and fascism. Only liberalism could be rescued from the relativism and historicism of modern philosophy by a return to classical political philosophy (basically in the form of Plato) and the eternal values inherent in what he calls the ‘theological-philosophical problem’ that begins with Athens and Jerusalem, reason and faith. I have since become more skeptical about the promise of Europe and the kind of claims made by Habermas and Derrida in 2003, especially a mere sixty years after Auschwitz and the recent ethnic cleansing in Kosovo involving war crimes committed by Serbian forces, including summary execution, burning of homes, and forcible displacement of Kosovar Albanians. iv 18

Perhaps, more than ever before the question of globalization and citizenship revolves around the free movement of peoples. By this I mean not only the modern diaspora, or the planned colonial migrations, or the more recent global mobility of highly skilled labour that is rewarded by citizenship. But more importantly, I mean refugees of all kinds and asylum-seekers and all that that entails – enforced border crossings, ethnic cleansing policies, the huge illegal movement of so-called ‘aliens’ or the ‘undocumented’, detention camps the likes of Woomera in Australia and even Guantanamo Bay, where the concept of rights is fragile or has entirely disappeared. Derrida (2001) argues for a form of cosmopolitanism that entails the right to asylum while Dummett (2001) focuses on refugee and immigration policy, increasingly a defining policy issue for the U.S., France, and the U.K. I am interested in how central ‘the camp’, rather the prison, is to contemporary society remembering Giorgi Agamben’s (1998) reworking of Foucault’s biopolitics based on the model of the prison in ‘Discipline and Punish’.v Not only Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (the Baghdad Correctional Facility) or Guantanamo Bay detention camp but also immigration detention camps like Woomera in Australia and across the western world and a variety of concentration, detention and refu-


Issue XI - Spring 2010

gee camps in Serbia, Asia and Africa. I note that in 2006 one of Halliburton’s subsidiaries was awarded a $385 million dollar contract by Homeland Security to construct detention and processing facilities in the event of a national emergency. vi The terms ‘globalization’ and ‘citizenship’ are not normally juxtaposed in social and political analysis. They tend to appear as contradictory or, at least, conflicting: the former points to a set of economic and cultural processes of unequal and uneven world integration, based on the unregulated flows of capital and underwritten by developments in new information and communications technologies, while the latter serves mainly as a metaphor for political community or solidarity. To what extent does globalization (as financialization) threaten the sovereignty of the nation-state and with it the notion of citizenship that developed during the modern era? To what extent can citizenship be severed from questions of national identity? Within the context of globalization, how can we maintain or develop a sense of community and local identity to establish or defend the hard-won entitlements of social citizenship? What possibilities are there for developing genuine transnational alliances and defining entirely new sets of rights within supranational political arenas? To what extent can the movement of individuals and peoples come

to be regarded as genuinely free within states, regions, and continents; and how might states that encourage the free-floating ‘globally integrated enterprise’ also extend universal and lawful protections to migrants, refugees and those seeking asylum? These are critical questions that ought to inform a democratic response to citizenship and to the question of citizenship education. (notes available online) Bibliography: Agamben, G. (1998) Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. tr. Daniel Heller-Roazen, Stanford University Press, Stanford. Bobbio, N. (1996) The Age of Rights. London, Polity. Derrida, J. (2001) On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. London: Routledge. Dummett, M. (2001) On Immigration and Refugees. New York: Routledge. Nickle, J. (2006) Human Rights, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights-human/. Peters, M.A. (2008) Citizenship in the Age of Globalization, global-e – a global studies journal, at http://www.global-ejournal.org/index. php/global-e/article/view/20/62. Peters, M.A., Blee, H. & Britton, A. (Eds.) Global Citizenship Education: Philosophy, Theory and Pedagogy. Rotterdam, Sense Publishers. Ranciere, J. (2004) ‘Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man?’ South Atlantic Quarterly 103.2/3: pp. 297-310.

_____________________________ Michael A. Peters is a professor of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois 19


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

myths of our time By Professor James Avis

“Education plays a key role in the perpetuation of the capital relation; this is the skeleton in capitalist education’s dank basement. It is just one of the many reasons why, in contemporary capitalist society, education assumes a grotesque and perverted form. It links the chains that bind our souls to capital.” -- Allman, et al, 2003, p149-150 “[The Prime Minister] has put fairness at the heart of his agenda… This is not just a moral imperative but an economic one too. Britain in 2008 is very different to 1997 and will be more so by 2020. We have seen rapid and radical changes in the global economy. To succeed in this new economic climate Britain must be one of the world’s highest skilled economies. We must ensure all in our workforce are ready for the jobs of the future.” -- Ministerial foreword, Cabinet Office Strategy Unit, 2008, p3

A

T A TIME OF RECESSION AND ECONOMIC CRISIS THE

education system has increasingly been called upon by the state to develop the skills and knowledge required by capital. Further Education (FE) is deemed to play an important role in this process through developing human capital and the reservoir of skill available to the social formation. By doing so, FE is thought to support a social justice agenda by contributing towards social inclusion and consequently, societal cohesion. This article comments upon a number of issues facing FE, vocationalisation, performativity and questions of social justice. In order to do so it is necessary to locate it within its 20

socio-economic context. There are a plethora of terms used to describe FE - the FE system, FE sector, post compulsory education and training, and the learning and skills sector. These terms reflect the ambiguities of the sector as well as its increasingly fluid and blurred boundaries (Allen and Ainley, 2007). Historically, FE has nestled between the end of compulsory schooling and advanced (degree) level study. It has been orientated towards the provision of non-advanced vocational/technical and general education as well as adult education. Kenneth Baker (1989), a former Conservative Secretary of State for Education referred to it as the


Issue XI - Spring 2010

‘Cinderella’ service. However, it is important to acknowledge that English FE has never been an easily definable sector, being marked by diversity, shifting boundaries and delivered not just in colleges of further education but by a variety of organisations including private training providers. Currently, provision can range from basic skills, vocational diplomas for 14-16 year olds, to degree level work. Colleges are marked by their particular histories as well as by the local and regional contexts in which they operate. A key tenet of the state’s ‘competitiveness settlement’ is the notion that through the development of human capital, society’s skills base will be enhanced leading to the development of a world class economy that will ensure economic success (Avis, 2009). Educational strategies orientated towards this goal not only offer economic, but also societal well-being. The argument is that in order to pursue this economic goal it is necessary to mobilise the talents of all. It is thus important that disadvantaged and marginalised groups are able to avail themselves of educational opportunities. By doing so, they contribute towards the economic vibrancy of society whilst simultaneously addressing New Labour’s social inclusion and cohesion agenda - a win-win situation for all. However, there are a number of difficulties with such arguments. There is a presumption that the logic of up-skilling is, or will, become

ubiquitous throughout the social formation. The notion of skill is fraught with ambiguities which include ‘hard’ skills emphasising technical performance, ‘soft’ skills including problem solving and the ability to work within a group, as well as its aestheticisation, embodied in the sexualisation of workers in fashionable bars and shops. Notwithstanding this, there are two points to be made about skill and the English economy. Firstly, there is a polarisation of skill with the majority of jobs requiring limited levels of skill, set against a much smaller high skills sector (Brown, et al, (2001).

... the rhetoric of social inclusion can be used to assess state policy and can be played back on itself Secondly, Brown et al, (2010) anticipate the development of a high skill, low wage nexus, a process which is aligned with globalisation as well as with digital Taylorism. Thus digital technologies can be used to standardise formerly skilled occupations, leading to a further polarisation within high waged employment and the development therein of a growing low waged sector. The point is that the pursuit of competitiveness will not necessarily deliver a high skilled, high waged economy characterised by steadily increasing standards of living. Such a strategy as a route to social justice is 21


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

seriously compromised. Nevertheless, economism informs the state’s responses to education. This can be seen in the vocationalisation of education and the manner in which this is wedded to the pursuit of competitiveness. Education is to become business, with FE and Higher Education seen as having a pivotal economic role. In the case of FE this is set at the regional and local level, as is the case with some recruiting universities. However, the danger is that such a strategy results in an impoverished conception of education which, cleansed of its criticality, becomes merely a form of capitalist education. Such an education seeks to construct 22

in its charges forms of subjectivity that align with the needs of capital. In addition, locally orientated FE, by attempting to serve the labour requirements of local employers, may inadvertently reproduce regionally based patterns of class inequality. Whilst the state seeks to wed education to the needs of capital, this is lived equivocally by those who work and study in the sector. As with the state sector as a whole, further education is characterised by the prevalence of targets and performance indicators. This emphasis upon performativity rests contradictorily with a concern to professionalise FE teachers and a rhetoric that stresses creativity and


Issue XI - Spring 2010

its importance within the knowledge economy. For many teachers, the constraints surrounding practice will be at odds with state constructions of creativity and the knowledge economy. Teachers’ lived experience of working in the sector is rather more concerned with the intensification of labour and meeting targets than with creativity. There are however, two points to be made that can be set against the apparent determinism of my earlier account. Firstly, to paraphrase Marx: we make history, but not in conditions of our own choosing. Thus the current conditions encountered become the terrain on which we struggle. Secondly, the preceding analysis is somewhat bleak, but despite constraints there will be some space for agency, not least because of the contradictions surrounding education policy and its enactment and mediation at institutional levels. The ubiquitousness of targets will clearly impact on classroom practices, but there will nevertheless be space for some sort of critical engagement by students and teachers. In addition, the rhetoric of social inclusion can be used to assess state policy and can be played back on itself, becoming a resource in the pursuit of social justice. Although state responses to the current economic crisis and the role it fosters upon, Further Education is represented as a happy coincidence between the needs of industry and social justice, this association is ul-

timately flawed and serves deeply conservative ends. This nexus, through its contradictions, does however call forth a political economy of education, and in this way prefigures a politics that is committed to the pursuit of social justice. Bibliography: Allen, M., Ainley, P. (2007) Education make you fick, innit? What’s gone wrong in England’s schools, colleges and universities and how to start putting it right, London, Tuffnell press Allman, P., Mclaren, P., Rikowski, G. (2003) After the box people, Freeman-Moir, J., Scott, A. (Eds) Yesterday’s Dreams: international and critical perspectives on education and social class, Christchurch, Canterbury University Press Avis, J. (2009) Education, Policy and Social Justice, London, Continuum, (Revised edition) Brown, P., Green, A., Lauder, H. (Eds) (2001) High Skills: Globalization, competitiveness and skill formation, Oxford, Oxford University Press Brown, P., Lauder, H., Ashton, D. (2010 in press) The Global Auction, New York, Oxford University Press Cabinet Office, The Strategy Unit, (2008) Getting on, getting ahead, London, the Cabinet Office

_____________________________ James Avis is the Director of Research and the Professor of Post-Compulsory Education and Training at the University of Huddersfield 23


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

EDUCATION FOR CULTURE By Clement Wee

E

DUCATION AND SOCIETY ARE INSEPERABLE. Education produces

participants in society and society in turn creates an education system to perpetuate itself. As the radical Reimer (1971) argues, schools are “creators of social reality”. The manner in which society conducts itself will be reflected in what the education system teaches. The purpose of education is the purpose of society. This purpose of society was labelled as the “covert curriculum” by American political writer Alvin Toffler (1980). In Toffler’s view, the covert curriculum of an industrial society consists of training in punctuality, obedience and repetition. The covert curriculum is necessary in order to train workers for their life in a factory, which requires these. The purpose of this article shall be in the first instance to challenge the narrowness of Toffler’s interpretation, and in the second, to argue that the social character of education implies that education needs to embrace a wider purpose than simply serving industry, whether that purpose be ethical formation, such as proposed by Martin Luther King Jr (1947) (2009 ed. on24

line) and Benedict XVI (2008), or be individual liberty, such as is proposed by Reimer (1971) and Freire (1970). Hence, this article defines culture generically as that which applies to the character of society. Firstly, I shall examine the economic imperative of education, including Toffler’s principles of “indust-reality”. Secondly, I shall analyze the ethical perspective of education. Following which, will be a critical look at the emancipatory purpose of education. The Catalyst of the Economy Toffler (1980) divides the education system into two components: the “covert” curriculum and the “overt” curriculum, and charges the covert curriculum with producing the workers for industry, as part of the “superstructure” of industrialism that all modern countries share. The characteristics trained by the “covert” curriculum are part of a general philosophical worldview called “indust-reality”. In fact, he goes so far as to call countries the disciples of indust-reality. Indust-reality consists of three main principles: utopian hope in progress, uniformlydivided space-time and atomism. It is


Issue XI - Spring 2010

not my position that I disagree with Toffler’s characterization of the covert curriculum, but to note that he neglects to apply “indust-reality” to the overt curriculum as well. For instance, atomism could be said to exist in the divisions of textbooks (overt curriculum) as much as in the division between recess and lesson-time (covert curriculum). (The atomism in the chronological division is the demarcation of where play belongs, which was debunked by Maria Montessori. [See Montessori, 1914, 1965 Ed.]) What Toffler fails to see is that indust-reality is part of an attitude towards the locus of industrialism, which is what he calls the “invisible wedge” between production and consumption. This wedge creates the marketplace, and this wedge is the Corporation. The Corporation is the modern focus of submission. Just as policies in the past were designed to appease “divine” nobles, whether these nobles were aristocratic or clerical figures, so policies in the industrial world are designed to appease Corporations. The clearest examples of these are in the countries known as the Asian Tigers. Toffler presents the workers’ song at Matsuhita Electric in Japan which basically consists of “Grow, industry, grow!”. In a more elaborate analysis, Sharpe and Gopiathan (2002) demonstrate the primacy of economic objectives in Singapore. Thus, Singapore had first the Vocational and Industrial Training Board,

followed by the Institutes of Technical Education, in order to produce a welloiled workforce for the multinationals that the government wished to attract to Singapore. As Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew attested at a recent interview by National Geographic Magazine, “in Singapore, if you are out of business, you are out of food” (Lee, cited by The Online Citizen).

The Student of Culture But such an approach essentially reduces an individual to the status of Toffler’s “industrial man”, that is the archetypal cog in the machine. Is there not more to society than the impersonal mass of the Corporation? As Toffler himself noted, industrial society served to “tear people loose” (Toffler, p111) from the interpersonal networks that held on to them in the old feudal orders. It is precisely these interpersonal networks, however, that provide meaning to human life, and the absence of these that results in the alienation of man from his envi25


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

ronment, a point that Marx understood well when we wrote Das Kapital. Two possible ways to solve this alienation problem have been identified. The first is to restore the broken interpersonal networks; the second is to promote emancipation through education, thus allowing each individual to create his or her own interpersonal networks. The first way is the choice of cultural and religious leaders, who stress a return to the old ways. They stress the traditional matrix of authority and how education should provide the ethical foundations to fit the individual back into this matrix. The late American civil rights leader Martin Luther King (1947) refers to this as the “accumulated social experience of living”, emphasizing that ethics is a core component of a truly educated person. Pope Benedict XVI (2008) likewise writes that the main purpose of education is to instil a love for Truth, and to impart the knowledge and understanding of truth to the student, and this truth includes the moral truths held by society for generations. The second way is usually the choice of radicals like Everett Reimer (1971) and Paulo Freire (1970). This way argues that education ought to be a tool to rescue or prevent people from social oppression. Reimer argues for the abolition of schools in order to end their functioning as agents of societal control by the elites. He stresses that a proper education should begin from “philosophy based on the right of maximum freedom from societal constraint”. 26

Freire demonstrates this in his account of teaching reading to Latin American peasants. He argues that peasants learnt to read faster when they were taught concepts relating to their own life, or as he characterizes them “the relationship between the theoretical context ... and the concrete context”, and hence made able to express what they were not able to under the “culture of silence” that pervaded among them while they were still illiterate. More interesting is Freire’s philosophical justification for this programme. Freire argues that all educational programmes have as their core topic the relationship of man in the world, and thus to be successful, need to be able to stimulate the ability of the student to describe the reality he or she is in: the physical, practical reality and the psychological, emotional reality. In order to achieve this, there must be a constant “critical analysis of the social framework” being conducted in the background.

...that is the final goal of education: to allow man to make sense of his environment and life in general. There are certainly merits to this opinion. The Italian educator Maria Montessori (1914) devised a method of educating children that was based on helping them find their position in the world around them, beginning with simple


Issue XI - Spring 2010

motor skills, and ramping up eventually to language, arithmetic and ethical education. The Montessori Method, as it is called, relies on giving children the space to explore the world around them, and permitting them to “invent” understandings and relationships in their social environment. In her Handbook, she argues that the “right means of development” (emphasis hers) and “full liberty to use them” negates any potential for “naughtiness”. Although Montessori’s topdown perspective is different from Freire’s bottom-up perspective, they share significant similarities. Both stress the role of the educator as a facilitator of knowing, rather than a ‘feeder’ of knowledge. Both emphasize the importance of liberty in the implementation of education. Montessori, however, possesses a more directed focus than Freire and Reimer. While Freire and Reimer are trapped in an endless cycle of seeking social mythologies to combat –a necessary implication of their dialectic – Montessori sets her goal as achieving “calm and goodness” and “the organization of the world”. She views liberty not as an end to itself, but as a means to the end of “perfecting of the activities” and “beneficial and calming satisfaction”. In this sense, we might look upon Montessori’s approach more favourably. Conclusion: A Synthesis Education these days is tied largely to the attainment of economic goals, with

countries like Singapore taking this to the extreme. But this is woefully inadequate as it lacks a social dimension; King (1947) warns that such an education will develop “a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists”. The alternatives sketched out above rely on re-establishing that social dimension, giving man room and direction to sketch his own pathways for the future. Despite how it may seem, the “conservative” and “liberal” approaches share the common thread of providing meaning to the life of the individual. In the end, that is the final goal of education: to allow man to make sense of his environment and life in general. And as a parting note, a quote from Montessori on the soci-cultural component of education: “How great should the results [of education] among little children [be] if the organization of their work is complete and their freedom absolute?” Perhaps, someday we might finally achieve Montessori’s full vision. Until then though, we all ought to bear in mind that holism should be the final end point of education. Bibliography: Toffler, A. (1980). The Third Wave. New York: Bantam. Reimer, E. (1971). School is Dead. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Ratzinger, J. (2008). Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Faithful of the Diocese and City and Rome on the Urgent Task of Educating Young People. Available at www. vatican/ va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2008/ hf_ben_xvi_let_20080121_educazione_en.html.

27


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy [Accessed 31 December 2009]. King, M. L. (2009 ed.) The Purpose of Education. The Maroon Tiger, 1947. Available at www.drmartinlutherkingjr.com/thepurposeofeducation.htm. [Accessed 01 January 2010]. Sharpe, L; and Gopiathan, S. (2002). After Effectiveness: New Directions in the Singapore Education System? The Journal of Education Policy, 17(2), 151-166. Freire, P. (1970a). The Adult Literacy Process as Cultural Action for Freedom. The Harvard Educational Review, 40(2), 205-225. Freire, P. (1970b). Cultural Action and Conscientization. The Harvard Educational Review,

40(3), 452-477. Montessori, M. (1914)(1965 ed.). Rambusch, N. M., ed. Dr Montessori’s Own Handbook. New York: Schocken. The Online Citizen (n.d.). MM Lee’s interview with NatGeo – transcript. Available at theonlinecitizen.com/2009/12/mm-lees-interviewwith-natgeo-transcript/. [Accessed on 30 December 2009].

_____________________________ Clement Wee is a first year undergraduate student reading PPE at the University of York

Capability and Educational Equality a Just

Provision for Students with Disabilities and Special Educational Needs i

By Dr Lorella Terzi

T

HE IDEAL OF EDUCATIONAL EQUALITY IS FUNDAMENTALLY

grounded in the egalitarian principle that social and institutional arrangements should be designed to give equal consideration to all. Educational institutions should therefore enact the value of equal concern by ensuring that all students have a fair share of educational goods and fair access to the benefits that these yield. However, beyond this broad stipulation, the precise content of the ideal of educational equality is more difficult to determine. Equality in education is mainly theorised along the ‘divide’ between equal input, however defined, and equal out28

come (Brighouse, 2003, p. 472), and there seems to be a lack of consensus on its implications at policy level. In this article, I aim to contribute to the debate on educational equality by dealing with the timely and contentious question of a fair provision for students with disabilities and special educational needs. I argue for an understanding of educational equality in terms of a principled framework for a just distribution of resources. This framework employs a version of liberal egalitarianism and draws primarily on the capability approach, as developed by Amartya Sen (1992, 1998) and Martha Nussbaum


Issue XI - Spring 2010

(2000, 2006), as well as other scholars. According to the capability approach, social and institutional arrangements should enact the value of equal concern by aiming at equalising people’s ‘capability to function’, i.e. their real opportunities for well-being and hence for living good lives. It is through the concepts of capabilities (real opportunities for functionings, or real freedoms) and functionings (valued beings and doings, such as, for example, being educated, or having a rewarding job) that a conception of educational equality can be outlined and defended, in order to provide justified answers to the initial question. Education, Capability and Equal Participation in Society The capability approach helps substantially in conceptualising educational equality by focusing on the fundamental functionings, promoted by education, that are essential prerequisites for an equal participation in society. Education, both in terms of formal schooling and informal learning, is central to the capability approach. The approach emphasises specifically the contribution that the capability to be educated makes to the formation and expansion of other capabilities and, hence, the contribution it makes to people’s opportunities for well-being and for their effective freedoms (Sen 1992, Nussbaum 2000). Consider, for instance, the case of learning mathematics. Formally learning mathematics

not only expands the individual’s various functionings related to reasoning and problem solving, but also widens the individual’s sets of opportunities and capabilities with respect, on the one hand, to more complex capabilities such as reflection, understanding and the formulation of one’s valued aims, and, on the other, to better prospects for opportunities in life. Learning mathematics may lead to choosing to become an economist or a teacher, for instance, as well as promoting one’s civic participation in different forms. Thus, education has a distinct role in expanding capabilities and in determining people’s real opportunities for well-being. This leads to a second important consideration. Given the complex interrelation of individuals with the society they inhabit, forms of civic and indeed economic participation play an important role in determining one’s well-being, while providing the basic structure for the exercise of effective freedom. Hence, an education consistent with enabling people to achieve well-being, and allowing the exercise of agency, should entail the promotion of functionings and capabilities that enable them to become participants in dominant social frameworks while promoting reflection on valued goals. Among the countless capabilities that might be developed through education and schooling, the approach therefore suggests the promotion and expansion of those necessary to participate as equals in society (see Anderson, 1999). 29


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

This responds, on the one hand, to the duty of institutional arrangements to show equal consideration to all, while, on the other hand, providing the constitutive elements for making one’s life go well, thus for the enactment of freedom. Capability Equality in Education: Elements of a Fundamental Entitlement Drawing on the considerations presented so far, I can now outline a first, provisional understanding of what constitutes capability equality in education. This consists in equal opportunities and access to levels of educational functionings necessary to participate effectively in society. Basic functionings promoted by education form the necessary enabling conditions that, once achieved, allow individuals to take part effectively in their dominant framework. In so far as we can, ultimately we should provide individuals with equal, secure access to these educational functionings, which constitute the transformational resources necessary to participate effectively in society. While conceptualising equality in terms of the equal opportunities for functionings, this view highlights the importance of the prospective educational achievements in terms of levels of functionings for an effective participation in society. It implies a threshold level of achieved functionings that educational institutions should promote and foster, set at the level necessary for effective participation in dominant 30

social frameworks (see Nussbaum, 2000). This constitutes a fundamental educational entitlement and establishes a threshold level of basic capabilities that should be guaranteed to all individuals. Capability Equality in Education: the Case of Disability and Special Educational Needs How is a just provision for students with disabilities and special educational needs established within the educational entitlement outlined? Students with disabilities and special educational needs are entitled to the achievement of educational functionings established as a matter of justice for all individuals. However, disability and special educational needs imply limitations on functionings and capabilities that may result in difficulties in the achievements of those levels of educational functionings. It follows, therefore, that these students should receive educational opportunities and resources necessary to achieve effective levels of functionings in their dominant social framework and that the additional provision, where necessary, is a matter of justice. Equalising opportunities and securing fundamental educational functionings in the case of children with disabilities and special educational needs means exactly providing those additional opportunities and resources necessary for the achievement of an effective participation in society. ii Thus, for instance, a student with dyslexia is entitled to additional opportunities and resources


Issue XI - Spring 2010

that will allow her to achieve reading and writing functionings appropriate to participate effectively in her social framework. The aim here is not simply the fairness of the share of resources, but, more appropriately, it is ensuring appropriate levels of functioning as a matter of justice. iii Elements of a Principled Framework for Educational Equality Although an effective participation and the possibility of taking part as equals in society do not require individuals to achieve high levels of educational functionings, their promotion is important both intrinsically and instrumentally. How should resources be distributed for the achievement of higher levels of functionings? Here John Rawls’s second principle of justice proves helpful. The principle maintains that social and economic inequalities are to be attached to offices and positions opened to all under fair equality of opportunity, and that these inequalities have to benefit the least advantaged members of society (Rawls, 2001: 42-3). It seems plausible to argue that, beyond the threshold level of fundamental capabilities guaranteed to everyone, those who can obtain the highest functionings in education should receive resources to that aim, providing that the benefits they gain from their education correspond to an equal long term prospective improvement and benefits for those least successful. In this sense, for instance,

higher levels of functionings achieved by some, may provide the rest of us with more advantages than we would have otherwise had and, therefore, improve our long term well-being in considerable ways. Similarly, severely disabled children or children with profound and multiple impairments might benefit from the higher educational functionings achieved by others, and this ultimately justifies applying considerations of efficiency, as entailed by Rawls’s second principle, to the distribution of resources for higher educational functionings. To sum up, a principled framework for educational equality consists of two parts. The first stipulates that equal opportunities for fundamental educational functionings should be provided at levels necessary to individuals for an effective participation in society. It sets a threshold level of capabilities and states that all should have effective equal opportunities to the achievement of those fundamental educational functionings. From the conception of disabilities and special educational needs as functionings and capabilities limitations, it follows that necessary and legitimate additional resources have to be devoted to children designated as having disabilities and special educational needs. The second part of the framework applies considerations of efficiency to the distribution of opportunities and resources for the effective access and achievement of higher levels of functionings. 31


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

It states that beyond the threshold level of fundamental functionings, resources should be devoted in ways that allow the higher achievements of some to benefit the lower achievement of others. While this framework does not provide a theory of educational equality, it nevertheless helps in providing a possible answer to the debated question of what constitutes educational equality for children with disabilities and special educational needs. i(notes available online) Bibliography Anderson, E. (1999) What is the Point of Equality?, Ethics, 109.3, pp. 283–337. Brighouse, H. (2003) Educational Equality and Justice, in: R. Curren (ed.) A Companion to the Philosophy of Education (Oxford, Blackwell

Publishing), pp. 471–486. Nussbaum, M. (2000) Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press). Rawls, J. (2001) Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (Cambridge, Harvard University Press). Sen, A. (1992) Inequality Reexamined (Oxford, Clarendon Press). Sen, A. (1999) Development as Freedom (Oxford, Oxford University Press). Terzi, L. (2007), ‘Capability and Educational Equality: The just distribution of resources to students with disabilities and special educational needs’, Journal of Philosophy of Education, 41 (4) 757-774. Terzi, L. (2008) Justice and Equality in Education: A Capability Perspective to Disability and Special Educational Needs (London and New York, Continuum).

_____________________________ Lorella Terzi is a professor at the School of Education, Roehampton University

THE VALUE OF EDUCATION IN A CHANGING SOCIETY By Associate Professor Ana Ferrer

T

HE EMPIRICAL STUDY OF THE ECONOMICS OF EDUCATION HAS

become one of the most prolific research areas in economics. One reason is that the framework employed by economists to study education, human capital theory, provides a simple but very powerful explanation of why and when individuals choose to accu32

mulate labour market skills. The basic mechanism that is proposed postulates that individuals forego present wages in low productivity occupations in order to obtain the skills that will allow them to enter high productivity, high wage occupations in the future. Second, research into the economics of


Issue XI - Spring 2010

education has also become popular because there is a relative abundance of quality data that allows us to test many of the predictions of the model. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the policy implications of the model are of immense relevance. From the point of view of governments, investments in the education of the population will affect economic productivity and growth. Further, thanks to additional theoretical insights that introduce financial diversity and the issue of access to education, economists have established a link between education and both inequality and poverty.i Concerns about growth and inequality have placed the study of the economics of education at the core of the policy agenda. In this article I will highlight the answers that this abundance of research can provide for two problems affecting modern economies. Whether viewed from the social or private perspective, education is generally thought to provide net benefits. Whereas governments are generally concerned with the influence of education on measures of economic performance or well being, such as social integration or innovative activity, individuals are primarily concerned with the effect of education on wages and/or employment. Hence most studies focus on estimating the returns to education – the increment in wages that can be expected with additional education or training. Estimates of these returns motivate education relat-

ed policies, like school enrolment, subsidies to education and regulation of tuition fees, and public investment in training programmes for unemployed youth or displaced workers. Hence, the central question in empirical microeconomic studies on education is: How much is education worth? The conclusion from the myriad of studies that try to answer this question is unanimous: Education substantially enhances the wages of the educated. However, these returns show such variability across different individual characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, and occupation, that the question arises of what we are really measuring in these studies. What policy makers need is some absolute measure of the value of education. Somehow they need to know whether providing everybody with training or education will increase the wages of the educated individuals by the amount estimated by economists. Unfortunately, economists have trouble answering this question. Because empirical studies are based on comparison between those who get an education and those who do not, the estimates of the worth of education are likely to include other generally unobserved individual traits that influence wages. For instance, if those with better aptitude for learning are the ones who get an education, our estimates of the economic worth of education may be inflated, with much of the apparent effects coming not from education itself, but from that 33


VOX - The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

higher learning ability. Further, providing access to education may not have an effect on inequality if the returns to education do not depend on education per se but on other characteristics that just happen to be associated with education, like personal connections. This problem, called selection bias, has made it difficult for economists to give the question on the worth of education an unequivocal answer.ii How well we measure the returns to education becomes particularly relevant when we are concerned with the effects of education on inequality, particularly with respect to its ability to alleviate problems brought about by rapidly changing technologies and the shifting structure of the labour force. Technological change – especially advances in information and computer technologies – and globalization of production have resulted in a growing demand for highly skilled workers that can adapt rapidly to these changes. In addition, western economies are experiencing substantial demographic transformations. An aging cohort of baby-boomers leaving the labour force has also contributed to create a vacuum of experienced workers. Partially as a result, immigration has increased to unprecedented levels in most developed countries. Both of the above outlined changes have placed access to education at the heart of much of today’s labour market inequalities. Low skilled 34

workers face a high risk of long term unemployment and low wages, with few benefits and possibilities of improvement. This is not the only group at risk. The pace of technological change is such that displaced workers, such as adult women who interrupted their careers for child rearing or adult men who lose their jobs, may also be left out of main stream jobs and confined to low end jobs unless they can update their education or skills. Even highly skilled immigrants are susceptible to a similar fate if their credentials are not recognized. Given this environment, current public interest in the returns to education is focused on these two issues: What is the value of updating the skills of the existing labour force, particularly those that may lose their jobs because of changing technologies and increased globalization? And is education enough to integrate an increasingly foreign population into the labour market and hence into our societies? The value of updating the skills of the current labour force varies depending on the type of training acquired. Government-sponsored training is mostly concerned with providing general skills that increase individual employability in a variety of workplaces and focuses on workers at high risk of social exclusion (unemployed workers and disadvantaged workers with limited skills). Privately-sponsored training, on the other hand, is usually


Issue XI - Spring 2010

firm-specific, provided to those with already high levels of skills, and who may even be currently employed. In general, the returns to privately-sponsored training finds positive effects on labour market outcomes such as wages or promotions. The magnitude of the returns varies depending on the type of training studied and the methodology employed. Government sponsored training, however, has a mixed record, raising earnings of some groups (adult women and displaced workers) but having little or no impact on earnings of others (disadvantaged adult men and youths). Even when they are positive, the impacts on earnings are modest and are usually not large enough to substantially reduce poverty rates. iii Regarding the second question, the study of immigrant economic assimilation in immigrant recipient countries suggests that foreign education is not enough to ensure a smooth transition into the host country economy. Even countries that receive largely skilled immigrants by virtue of their selection system, like Australia and Canada, report that recent immigrants have trouble assimilating into the labour force in terms of earnings and employment. The main problem seems to be with the difficulty in recognizing and evaluating foreign skills. Informal learning, such as experience acquired on the job, is hard to assess and, therefore, it becomes highly discounted by local employers.iv Even formal learn-

ing encounters significant barriers in being recognized by local employers, particularly in health professions and engineering. Overall, research on the returns to education and training agrees that, for the most part, public education and training is desirable for displaced workers and immigrants. However, public programmes should be made more efficient than they have been in the past. Crucial design features include careful targeting of the participants most likely to benefit from education, keeping programs small in scale, including a strong work experience component to establish links with employers, and having programmes that produce a certification that is recognized in the labour market. In addition, problems associated with low skills more generally should be addressed much earlier in the life cycle. Research shows us that education is strongly linked to productivity and individual well being. It seems, however, that if we want demographic and technological changes to increase individual well-being, we should promote educational policies that address the inequalities created by these changes and do not disregard the lessons learned from the study of the returns to education. i (notes available online)

_____________________________ Ana Ferrer is Associate Professor at the Department of Economics at the University of Calgary 35


VOX

voxjournal.co.uk

The Student Journal of Politics, Economics and Philosophy

VOX Summer Issue 2010: ‘Control’ VOX, the Student Journal for Politics, Economics and Philosophy is calling for articles to be submitted for the Summer Issue 2010, with the broad theme “Control”. Articles should be between 1,000 and 1,250 words in length. If you would like to write on this theme, please e-mail vox@clubofpep.org.uk by 26 March 2010 You may wish to write on a topic from the list below: • Managing the market (trade, planned economy, managing inefficiency) • Controlling poverty • To what extent are our lives dominated by technological rationality? • Regulating corporate behaviour in the age of globalization • Government power • Lack of self-control (scepticism, religion, existentialism) • War as a means of resource control • ____________ (Your own idea) (Undergraduates, Graduates and Academics Welcome) Back issues are available at: www.voxjournal.co.uk

Vox Issue XI- Education  

This term's theme for VOX is 'Education' and its contents broadly fall into three categories. First, three articles explore the unrecognised...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you