ΤΕΥΧΟΣ 8

ΤΕΥΧΟΣ 8

ISSUE 8

April 2007

EDITORIAL

D. Mattheou

CONTENTS

In the current paper we examine the meaning of Education as it is constructed in the contemporary frame of the post-modernistic conception. We analyze the new criteria that turn the traditional values of the enlighten pattern of Education into a new educative model which is adjusted to the needs of Economy.

This translocation is also connected with a transformation of the model of socialization. The traditional model of socialization “school-family-society” gives gradually its position to a new communicative plexus of Mass Media and to a new frame of values which is derived from a self-centered and private model of the market economy.

These crucial changes differentiate the methodological-learning pattern of Education. The basic priority of Education is not yet the  cultivation of methodology, comparative analysis and critical way of thinking, but the complete specialization, collection of information and the harmonization of the given knowledge to the needs of productivity.

Thus, instead of having Education transforming the economic and constitutional systems using its accumulated knowledge and values, it receives the influence of Economy and is differentiated in order to follow the changes in it.

The critical question which is posed today in the field of educational procedure is the following: in the basis of which methods and through which educational procedures is it possible for the technical novelties, the evolution in information and communication, the new needs that arise from the changes in the labor production to come to terms with the growth of knowledge and critical analysis?

This mediation demands two primary objectives: the rejection concerning the neutrality of technology and novelty and the acknowledgement that their acceptance leads to the transformation of social relations and values.

Secondly, we should accept that collaboration, social justice, equality and freedom constitute the broaden frames of values through which Education and socio-economical structure should evolve and be adjusted.

The present work investigates theoretical positions and empirical data in examining social control in Greek education and aims to bring to the fore new dimensions of the issues at hand. The empirical analysis (in the light of relevant theory) indicates that the approaches, which present the state control of education with respect to the knowledge transmitted in school, as paramount, may be quite simplistic.

The explanation offered in the present work is that it is plausible to identify changes in the ways social control is applied in education. The source of social control is changed and transformed from the autocratic authority to the state power and, in recent years, to power and control exercised within the social body. It does not evolve as the institutional replacement of state power through the mobilization of civil society groups and institutions. It is ad hoc and exercised by fellow teachers and parents. So, surveillance in education is exercised within and by the social body and does not consist one-sided oppression by the central power, derived from the above.  It is the result of individual actors who, nevertheless, act in an extremely homogeneous way, providing the illusion of collective activity. The actors formulate and adopt, often in an identical way, the prevailing notion of what constitutes useful knowledge. Such practice provides them legitimacy and massive impact, so that the practice or its effects have not been so far seriously investigated, let alone challenged.

Such changes in the exercise of power do not evolve as the empowerment of social agents/groups and the emergence of an active civil society. They evolved precisely as a result of the lack of ability of the state and the state mechanisms to retain their legitimate role in exercising social control in education. In this case, not only is the state less able to exercise social control, it is also less able to delegate and institutionalize the mode in which social control in education will be enacted.  As a result, it is certain social classes or, rather, certain social strata that constitute the pool for the agents of social control in education to evolve, in spite of the intensions of the central authority.

In the first part of this paper we shall examine the European Union discourse on education by focusing on significant texts e.g. the White Paper on Education and Training (1995), the Green Paper on Entrepreneurship in Europe (2003), The Future Objectives of European Education Systems (2001) and Education & Training 2010 (2002)).

In the second and main part of the paper we shall argue: (a) that the European discourse on education (policy talk and policy action) constructs a concept of “knowledge society” that privileges instrumental rationality, techno-scientific knowledge, and what Manuel Castells has called an “Information-Technology Epistemological Paradigm”; (b) that such “knowledge society” and the kindred “knowledge economy” make certain demands on schools and universities to provide education and training, to produce knowledge, and to form skills / competences that are believed to be instrumentally useful for employability and “sustainable economic development;”(c) that in responding to such demands, schools and universities run the risk of underemphasizing one of their main educational functions, namely the cultivation of “minds and souls,” the quintessential elements of being “human”; (d) that the type of education demanded by the “knowledge society” diminishes the capacity for individual autonomy and social and cultural inclusion which are fundamental aspects of a democratic, multicultural and equitable society.

In the third and final part, we shall briefly argue for the necessary re-invention of a “liberal humanistic education” that aims at the construction of reflective democratic citizens / persons.

Trends as a term is widely used by at least two groups of people. For academics, and certainly for comparativists, trends constitute an abstraction, a mental construct, useful in analyzing and understanding social and educational developments in the world. In this sense trends do not express/ codify  certainties; they are rather provisional and contextually dependent. On the other hand, politicians consider trends as a trustworthy mechanism for safe predictions concerning the outcomes of the policy proposals they favour; and hence as an effective means for their legitimation.

The article looks into the two different perceptions of trends and suggests that policy takers have purposefully and consistently transformed an ordinary analytical tool into a means for manipulating education policy.