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Education reinforces the inequalities that exist in the social order

Uploaded by Heinous_Bitch on May 12, 2002

Education becomes the medium which simply reinforces the inequalities that exist in the social order



Everybody knows that school teaches you hordes of useful things and that the people who stay there and get educated are further along the path to freedom than those who don’t… right? Or maybe, as Quintin Hoare wrote: “British education is from a rational point of view grotesque, from a moral one intolerable, and from a human one tragic.”1 This point of view, though not always phrased with such brutality, is evidently shared by many people. Their belief is that the education system is, and has been for a long time, a breeding ground for ignorance rather than enlightenment; a hellish institution in which said inequalities are perpetuated. So what are these “inequalities in the social order”? Indeed, what is the “social order” in the first place? I take the area of socio-economic class as my main example of what is meant here, with gender and race as secondary examples.

There are three commonly-acknowledged economically-divided social classes: lower, middle, and upper. “They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered.”2 The lower two classes each strive to better their situation, to gain more power and control, while the upper class strives to maintain its existing state of power. Maintaining the status quo involves instilling what Karl Marx called a ‘false consciousness’3 into those without power, to keep them in ignorance of their position of subordination. There is much change within the personnel of the classes, but the point which these socialist writers fear is that the framework into which the classes fit is not subject to change. This is how Orwell and many others perceived the world to be, and the education system in all this is “little more than a rationalisation of the status quo” 4: it tells you that the way things are is the way they should be, and don’t you dare try to change that. As Martin Hoyles asks in The History and Politics of Literacy, is education “a liberating or repressive activity?”5 It seems blatantly obvious that knowing how to read and write, and familiarity with such ‘core’ subjects as science and mathematics and literature, is essential; and without it one...

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Uploaded by:   Heinous_Bitch

Date:   05/12/2002

Category:   Social Issues

Length:   7 pages (1,590 words)

Views:   1417

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