Tomy Ward Education
Education for Critical Times
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Saturday, 04 May 2013 20:03

Education, Cultural Control and Extrinsic Evaluation

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For the last sixty years since the end of World War II, the theory and practice of Education has been increasingly penetrated by a form of technical rationality manifest by ideologies of performativity underpinned by theories of Behaviourism, which seek to found the process of learning on a reward system operated by the State, but grounded in the needs, aspirations and demands of the military/industrial complex. With the advance of global capitalism, this penetration of the education system has colonized almost the entire planet, and almost all cultures. It has become the normative benchmark of teaching and learning quality, and, apart from small and isolated pockets of resistance (popular culture, critical pedagogy, co-operative learning, student-centred learning etc.) has achieved almost total hegemony.

At the same time, the world has edged ever closer to environmental and economic meltdown. We stand at a critical moment of history, in which the very future of the planet and its future generations hangs in the balance. It is my contention, argued here, that these two phenomena are intimately related, and that indeed our current system of education is one of the primary contributors to our present predicament, linked as it is to systems of competition and exploitation. Following on from this, I will argue that the impending catastrophe can be averted through nothing less than a complete transformation of the education process, the abandonment of its competitive ethic and its extrinsic reward systems.

I begin with an analysis of the principles inherent in behaviourism theories, and follow this with an analysis of the concept of work, showing how the two are linked and how both are connected to normative systems of education. Following this, I present alternative or competing concepts of both work and education, demonstrating in the process how they hold out hope for a way of transforming our relations with each other and with the physical environment.

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