link: schooling



                                                          TEACHING OR 'SCHOOLING'


theme: The traditional paradigm for teaching evolved in the context of industrialism and its requirements for discipline, rigidity and authoritarianism. In the traditional paradigm for teaching education is confused with school and learning is confused with 'schooling'. The teaching model for schooling is the 'delivery model'.

 "The major purpose of schooling until now has been to preserve the hegemony of the established culture to induct each new generation into the dominant worldview... But we can conceive education as a genuine community of learning in which new meanings, new metaphors are generated... sense of reverence toward nature and life - respect for diversity, spontaneity and the inherent wisdom of organic growth - it is essential that we draw on our deepest source of renewal and creativity: the imagination. The holistic critique calls for an integration of rational, empirical, analytical modes of knowing with the imaginative and intuitive... The recent so-called 'holistic education movement' is the manifestation of the concern for an education which 'draws forth' (from the Latin 'educare') the "latent capacities and sensitivities of the individual". (Miller R. et al. The Renewal of Meaning in Education: Responses to the Cultural and Ecological Crisis of our Times Brandon,VT: Holistic Education Press, 1993 p.20-23)

"The function of education in any society is the socialization of youth into the prevailing culture. On the one hand, schooling serves to integrate individuals into society by institutionaliz ing dominant value, norm and belief system. On the other hand, schooling provides the individual competencies necessary for the adequate performance of social roles. These educational systems are fundamental to the stability and functioning of any society."(See Gintis in R.C. Edwards et al(eds) The Capitalist System. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972 123)

  "It is characteristic of the permament search for humanistic education that the more you have freedom to criticize, the more necessary is the sacredness of the domesticating social order for its self-preservation. For this reason, all attempts at mystification obviously tend to become totalitarian, that is, they tend to reach all human endeavors. No category or enterprise can escape falsification, because an exception might become a threat to the sacredness of the established sorder. In this sense, schooling at whatever level plays one of the most vital roles, as an efficient mechansim for social control. It is not hard to find educators whose idea of education is 'to adapt the learner to his environment,' and as a rule formal education has not been doing much more than this." (Paulo Freire The Politics of Education South Hadley, MA: Bergin and Garvey Publishers, Inc. 1985 116)

schooling as dependency training...

 'Traditional learning' as 'school-learning' is relatively recent. The concept of 'traditional learning' as school-learning is relatively recent.

Traditional education as school education accounts for the modern meaning of the term 'traditional learning' as school learning.

In the modern sense, the meaning of 'traditional education' is education in schools. 'Traditional' education in the modern sense is best characterized by referring to cc luster of themes or modes such the use of classrooms, scheduled activities, assymetrical teacher-student ratios etc.   "Non-traditional" would refer to the absence or modification of one of these themes or modes. The extent of variation with "traditional" programs and institutions make it difficult to define the term "non-traditional."

"Innovative education" refers to "innovation" in educational methodology. An "innovation," a new approach or technique, is a variation on a known theme based on one of three principles.  the modern sense, the meaning of 'traditional education' is education in schools. 'Traditional' education in the modern sense is best characterized by referring to the use of classrooms, scheduled activities, assymetrical teacher-student ratios etc. 'Non-traditional' would refer to the absence or modification of one of these characteristics. The extent of variation with 'traditional' programs and institutions makes it difficult to define the term 'non-traditional.' Traditional education as school education accounts for the modern meaning of the term 'traditional learning' as school learning. The concept of 'traditional learning' as school-learning is relatively recent. ("The Learning Tradition" page 7-9 in the book "Peak Learning" by Richard Gross)

In the ancient Athens of Plato and Socrates, learning was a part of life, work and leisure. Citizens engaged in discussion of issues in the market, in the baths and in the gym.

The paradigm of 'traditional American culture' (American Constitution) is characterised by its dichotomous perception of human nature... goodness versus supposed wickedness or 'evil'.   

"The founding fathers of America believed in self-education. They believed that the success of the republic depended on the intellectual self-reliance of the citizenry and promoted open debate through free speech and a free press. Only recently has schooling been confused with education and peoples' competence been judged by their diplomas. The major qualification of the 'professional' is that he/she can pass a licensing examination. Increasing numbers of people make learning a continuing part of living. These so-called peak learners may represent a chance of survival of the human species and the planet". (from 'Peak Learning page 5-7)

The educational curriculum was conceived for purposes of training for the factory workplace and designed for mass education. Within the context of a management hierarchy, the 'classical curriculum' consisted of the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. Students were expected to be punctual, to follow orders and to perform repetitive tasks in preparation for work on the factory floor and in the offices. A regimented education prepared them for a future as mechanical laborers of assembly line technology. Teachers were required to be authoritarian, emphasizing repetitive work and rote learning. At first, the principles of 'traditional' education and the 'classical curriculum' were applied to primary and secondary schools and later they were applied to higher education as well. More recently, they have been applied to the new practice of 'adult education'. 

Traditional education as 'schooling' is based on a fallacious mistrust in human nature The paradigm of traditional education as 'schooling' is based on the assumption that the human personality or 'human nature' is basically immoral and antisocial.  The mistrust of human nature accounts for the fallacious notion that the indvidual's interests and those of society are mutually exclusive... leads to the  notion that the purpose of civilisation is to control human impulses or 'antisocial instincts' (Freud).

The supposed dichotomy between individual and society is the basis for confusion about formulation of rational educational theory... Confusion between schooling and learning is relatively recent.  

 "Mass education was the ingenious machine constructed by industrialism to produce the kind of adults it needed. The problem was inordinately complex. How to pre-adapt children for a new world - a world of repetitive indoor toil, smoke, noise, machines, crowded living conditions, collective discipline, a world in which time was to be regulated not by the cycle of the sun and moon but by the factory whistle and the clock.The solution was an educational system that, in its very structure, simulated this new world...The most criticized feature of education today - the regimentation, lack of individualization, the rigid systems of seating, grouping, grading, and marking, the authoritarian role of the teacher - are precisely those that made mass public education so effective an instrument of adaptation for its place and time..." (A Toffler. Future Shock. London, Pan Books. 1976 pp 361-362) 

American culture: traditional education as education for the economy An objective account of traditional education as school education depends on an understanding of the issues in a historical context. In the 18th century, the American founding fathers believed in the success of the republic in terms of dependence on the intellectual self-reliance of its citizenry. They believed in self-education and promoted open debate through free speech and a free press. At the end of the 19th century with the rise of industrialism and  the demands of industry attention was focused on the economy. The notion of education for the 'masses' gave rise to the so-called 'traditional' paradigm of education as education for purposes of the economy. A fragmented and assembly line approach to education produced educational curricula designed to produce an assembly line education for the production of the kind of adults which were needed for the new world of business and industry. The aim was to provide a work force for the economic infrastructure of the new industrialized society. The school environment was modelled after the hierarchical and mechanical environment of industry. The educational system was devised in the form of 'public schools' which were structured and organized as an effective means of training the young for work in the factories. A twelve-grade classific

ation system of public schools was established by 1890. Teaching methodologies were also designed for mass education.

'School' can be defined as an "age-specific, teacher related process requiring full-time attendance at an obligatory curriculum." (Illich Deschooling Society 26)

Schooling as dependency training: 'student-teacher contradiction'

 "Resistant dependent learning may well be a product of culture, upbringing and the public education system. Students do not naturally arrive at high school, college or adult education programs at once dependent upon teachers and resentful of being taught. They become that way as a result of years of dependency training." (Grow, Gerald. "Teaching Learners to be Self- Directed" Adult Educational Quarterly, 41: 3 (Spring 1991) 142)

"The exercise of the role of teacher is a matter of time, place and circumstance. The individual can make no claim to the permament title of 'teacher' since a change of circumstances, an encounter with somenone else, may at any moment reverse the roles." (Goble. The Function of Teaching 53)

 In the institution of the school, the function of the teacher is measured by the difference in knowledge level with the student and in this way is formalized. On the basis of the asumption that knowledge is "finite and unchanging" the student is expected to memorize and 'possess' the knowledge transmitted by the teacher whose function as a 'monopolist' (making a claim to a monopoly of knowledge) is to concentrate on "artificial and arbitrary kinds of scholarship." (Goble. The Function of Teaching 54)

Aims of schooling Educational policies were designed to pre-adapt children for future rigid working environments of industrial society with its social requirements of collective discipline, authoritarianism and regimentation. The aim of schooling was to inculcate the values of 'mental discipline' as the performance of meaningless tasks without questioning, 'obedience to authority', as punctuality and the following of orders. This is the 'hidden curriculum' of the traditional paradigm. Educational methods are justifiedby principles of behavioural science or 'behaviourism'.  They are based on the assumption that education is a matter of conditioned learning or 'conditioning'. School education has become equated with educational institutions with rigid seating and grouping arrangements. Teaching methods are based on policies of teacher authoritarianism and classroom teachers are considered as expert authorities. They emphasize assigned readings to be studied and memorized from textbooks and then tested in terms of isolated factual content by 'performance' on objective tests. Evaluation of competence is in the form of a reward/punishment grading system. Recognition of achievement is in the form of diplomas and other 'credentials'. The curriculum is without individualization.

Ritual character of schooling as the initiation into the consumer society

  As long as people are not aware of the ritual character of schooling as the initiation into the consumer society, they cannot begin to conceive of educational reform. Under the power of the ritual of the educational 'machine', they remain under the spell of the economy (capitalism- consumerism). Once that spell is broken and only after it is broken, can they reform the educational system within a new paradigm. (Illich Deschooling Society)

Knowledge areas and skill areas are fragmented and distributed into separate subjects to make up a curriculum of 'academic requirements'.

"The lecture-based passive curriculum is not simply poor pedagogical practice. It is the teaching model most compatible with promoting the dominant authority in society and with disempowering students." (Freire page l0 Politics of Education)

'Vertical fragmentation' of the curriculumFragmentation of the curriculum can be traced  back to the publication of two documents committed to the ideals of democracy. The first document, published in 1893, was entitled The Report of the Committee of Ten on Secondary School Studies. The report focused on the ideal of quality education for every American citizen and emphasized the integration of different subject areas of the traditional humanistic curriculum. After l900 as a result of the misinterpretation of Darwin's concept of 'survival of the fittest' in the evolution of biological species, educational goals were set with a view for 'social efficiency'. The aim of schooling was to train young minds to become imitative and exploitative. In 1918 the second document was published entitled 'The Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education'. This report was a response to the effects of the immigration policies between 1893 and 1918 as a result of which the school population was doubling every ten years. Attempts were made to adjust to the new social situation and preserve the democratic ideal of 'education for every American'.

Emphasis was placed on the subjects of the curriculum which were thought to be important for social adjustment in a democratic society - the formal subjects of reading, writing, arithmetic -i.e.'formalism'.

Horizontal fragmentation of the curriculum During this time, the ideas of philosopher John Dewey and leaders of the 'progressive movement' stressed the importance of a 'humane curriculum' which respected 'experiential learning' and 'individual differences'. These progressive ideas were combined with the principles of educational formalism and in this way they were  incorporated into the institutionalized system of education. The results were unfortunate. From then on progressive education was perceived as a kind of 'romantic formalism' and the curriculum was fragmented further - this time 'horizontally'. Information was selected for the purpose of preparing children in those subjects and skills which were considered to be necessary not only for work but for good citizenship and for leisure as well. Children were allocated to different 'groups' or 'tracks' depending on their level of 'intelligence'. They were given access to information which was considered to be appropriate for their individual 'capacities'.  

In this way progressive education was accommodated to the democratic ideal of 'education for every American'.

Educational policy and scientific reductionism Educational policy in the traditional paradigm is based on assumptions inherent in the scientific paradigm of reductionist science or 'reductionism'. In the paradigm of reductionism, just as the scientist must be 'objective' in the process of observation, in the same way the student must be objective in the process of learning. Emphasis is placed on the 'objective' of 'learning' - test scores, grades, diplomas, credentials and so on. The learnerís inner life is ignored and its validity in the learning process is discredited.

It is in this context that one can begin to understand the issues pertaining to the questioning of the traditional paradigm and the paradigm 'shift' of today.

Traditional educaton today: dilemma of schooling

We know that learning is a natural function of the healthy mind and that learning and thinking are valuable assets for citizens of a free and democratic society. Given that schools are faced with the dilemma of how to motivate students to work, the central problem appears to be the following: how can we teach within the framework of a required curriculum while respecting children's natural motivation for learning? the educator, whether in the administrative or instructional capacities of schools or government, has the very great responsibiliuty of leading students to use and develop their own minds - to learn to think.

In the traditional paradigm of education, the aim of education has always been considered in terms of the individual's 'usefulness to society'. Since their beginning, traditional schools have been institutions of education as compulsory learning. Today's fragmented and assembly line approach to education continues the tradition of compulsory education. Traditional education continues to promote values derived from the belief systems of American culture. In this 'cultural context' the traditional teaching paradigm continues to be used to promote the ideals of capitalism and to foster adult 'immaturity'.  In the current educational systems, emphasis is placed almost entirely on the acquistion of data. There is little concern for the development of the reasoning mode of learning. Training of the observational and contemplative modes are almost completely lacking. And the affective dimension of learning... the individual's instinctive striving for inner development to maturity or 'self-actualisation' is completely ignored. .

Self-actualisation is the aim of education for the whole person i.e. 'holistic education'.

 'Passive teaching'- teaching as if information must be poured into childrens' heads - is destructive for children. They are judged on the basis of their ability to learn passively. The passive teacher makes a claim to a monopoly of the knowledge he teaches. (Paul Goodman Growing Up Absurd 77)

What would be the implications for education if it were based on trust in the human organism as a social organism with a social brain and without antisocial instincts?

...if human nature is defined in terms of human 'values for living' or 'human needs'?

"Ignorance, poverty and crime in society will not be solved by more of the same 'old education' - forcing children to learn under the systematic repression of adult-controlled instruction. Despite the billions of dollars and lip service efforts at 'reform' this type of traditional education remains as ever a part of the problem - not the solution. Instead, we must create a 'new education' to free the human spirit - true education which is based entirely on fundamental principles of nature." Illich

  "Students who are capable of more individual involvement in learning are often relegated to passive roles in authoritarian classrooms." (Grow, Gerald. "Teaching Learners to be Self-Directed" Adult Educational Quarterly, 41: 3 (Spring 1991) 125-149 the quote is on page 137) 

"Generally speaking, the good student is not one who is restless or intractable, or one who reveals one's doubts or wants to know the reason behind facts, or one who breaks with preestablished models, or one who denounces a mediocre bureaucracy, or one who refuses to be an object. To the contrary, the so-called 'good student' is one who repeats, who renounces critical thinking, who adjusts to models, and who 'thinks it pretty to be a rhinoceros'"  Paulo Freire The Politics of Education South Hadley, MA: Bergin and Garvey Publishers, Inc. 1985 (117) 


notes:†††† Increasing numbers of people make learning a continuing part of living. These so-called peak learners may represent a chance of survival of the human species and the planet.

What is "traditional learning?" School-learning?

EDUCATION AS EXPRESSSION OF POWER AND POLITICS... EDUCATION FOR DOMINATION AS EDUCATION FOR THE NEEDS OF "SOCIETY" COUNTERACTS MOTIVATION RESULT IS EDUCATIONAL "CRISIS".... Education for the 'needs' of the society becomes task oriented, lacks vision and wisdom, inhibits intellectual and emotional growth. Education for domination counteracts natural learning and intrinsic motivation... traditional policies and programs counteract children's motivation for learning...

 SCHOOLING AS MECHANISM OF SOCIAL CONTROL EDUCATION FOR DOMINATION OR FOR FREEDOM There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education functions either as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the 'practice of freedom,' the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world 

The successful schools as communities of learning and places where students were known to have ongoing contact with their teacher.  Schooling as training in consumerism... bored people are the best consumers: Underground History of American Education