A nationwide strike called by base unions against implementation of Law 107, better known as the “good school” law, is set to happen on Friday 17th.
The education sector is already experiencing the devastating effects of reforms desired by the Renzi government and former education minister Stefania Giannini, extending the powers of principals, the introduction of the “merit award,” extensions of the school-work system, the… Continue reading
Organisers with the South African Fees Must Fall student movement are reporting police brutality and dozens of arrests at today’s March to Parliament for Free Decolonized Education – part of a nationwide series of protests under the Fees Must Fall banner calling for the decolonising of education, an end to outsourcing and the scrapping of historic debts.
After an initial 25 arrests at the beginning of the march,… Continue reading
In Cameron’s adventurous second term, the privatisation of culture has continued on a dramatic scale. Everywhere cultural avenues for poor people are severed. Public museums, art galleries and libraries, particularly those in predominantly working-class Labour boroughs, have had their funding cut. As they demolish our estates to make for upmarket flats, centres of working-class culture are reduced to their market rate.
At London Metropolitan University’s Aldgate campus, management are completing… Continue reading
Reaching its second day on Friday, the wildcat strike and picket at the School of Oriental and African Studies was successful in putting further pressure on management to lift the suspension of union representative Sandy Nicoll.
The suspension comes in response to Nicoll’s alleged support for the occupation there and its resilience against increasing repression from university management. Two days ago director and former cabinet member Valerie Amos escalated the… Continue reading
Education, equality, opportunity
ULTIMATELY THE SOCIAL FUNCTION of education is to perpetuate society: it is the socialising function. Society guarantees its future by rearing its children in its own image. In traditional society the peasant rears his sons to cultivate the soil, the man of power rears his to wield power, and the priest instructs them all in the necessity of maintaining a priesthood. In modern governmental society, as Frank MacKinnon put it in The Politics of Education:
“The educational system is the largest instrument in the modern state for telling people what to do. It enrols five-year-olds and tries to direct their mental, and much of their physical, social and moral development for twelve or more of the most formative years of their lives.”
To find a historical parallel to this situation you would have to go back to ancient Sparta, the principal difference being that the only education we hear of in the ancient world is that of ruling classes. Spartan education was simply training for infantry warfare and for instructing the citizens in the techniques of subduing the slave class, the helots, who did the daily work of the state and greatly outnumbered the citizens. In the modern world the helots have to be educated too, and the equivalent of Spartan warfare is the industrial and technical competition between nations which is sometimes the product of war and sometimes its prelude. The year in which Britain’s initial advantage in the world’s industrial markets began to wane, was the year in which, after generations of bickering about its religious content, universal compulsory education was introduced, and every significant development since the Act of 1870, had a close relation to the experience, not merely of commercial rivalry, but of war itself. The Acts of 1902, 1918 and 1944 were all born of war, and every new international conflict, whether in rivalry for markets or in military techniques, has been the signal for a new burst of concern in different countries over the scale and scope of technical education among the rival powers. Thus the explosion by America of the first atomic bombs was a signal to Russia to hasten the pace of technical and scientific education, and Russia’s success in putting the first sputnik into space, led to an outburst of self-criticism in America about the shortcomings of the American educational system, and to a concern about the quality and availability of technical education in both Britain and America which is still in full swing. Continue reading
No-one ever got taller by being measured. In schools, the only tests that help are the ones that
offer guidance on what’s next, not ‘summative’ ones that merely record children’s progress. Last month in Florida a kindergarten (5-year-old children) teacher took a stand by refusing to administer the state-mandated standardised test to her pupils. In Gainesville, Florida 59-year-old Susan Bowles explained how the FAIR assessment (computerised for the first time in 2014) is difficult to administer, unfairly tests 5-year-olds’ computer abilities, and eats up hours and hours of critical classroom time. Bowles wrote on her own FaceBook page content that was then copied elsewhere within her local and the wider educator communities:
“This assessment is given one-on-one. It is recommended that both teacher and child wear headphones during this test. Someone has forgotten there are other five year olds in our care. There is no provision from the state for money for additional staff to help with the other children in the classroom while this testing is going on. A certified teacher has to give the test. If you estimate that it takes approximately 45 minutes per child to give this test and we have 18 students, the time it takes to give this test is 13½ instructional hours. If you look at the schedule, a rough estimate would be that it requires about one full week of instructional time to test all of the children.” Continue reading
Today’s cabinet reshuffle has seen the downfall of despised Education Secretary, Michael Gove. Here current education worker Daniel Dawson discusses Gove’s replacement, and the radical class conscious education they want to see in place of the current system.
Within less than a week of the largest public sector strike since November 2011, the Conservative Cabinet reshuffle sees the most gangrenous attachment to Education since trench foot, Michael Gove, demoted to Chief Whip. Schools across the nation rejoice! I myself allowed a moment of intense relief as I spread the good news among the staff of the mediocre academy where I work, before reminding myself the old adage: Never trust a Tory.
Nicky Morgan, Gove’s replacement is an unsurprising choice by Cameron, having expressed the desire to be rid of the ‘pale, stale and male’ image of the Conservative party. Affirmative action in practice! And I’m not even against affirmative action, but what I am in opposition to is the Tory Neo-liberalist take on Feminism which propels an equality minister, who famously opposed gay marriage, into a position she has no experience of just because Cameron wants more women in plain view for a pre-Election bid for support. Continue reading
(originally published in Freedom, May 2012) In all the opposition to education cuts and the ramping up of fees, adult education hasn’t had a lot of airtime. There are basically four reasons people want adult education: for basic skills, to learn something they need to improve their job opportunities, for fun and to have a second opportunity.
Despite pretensions otherwise, all are under… Continue reading