Return to Enquiry Learning Main Page
Return to Resources Menu
revised 2005, 2008
It is useful to maintain a difference between education and schooling. Simply, schooling is a process of moulding and fashioning minds and behaviour according to the interests and beliefs of some particular group. Education may be defined in terms of its potential to challenge and to suspend all such vested interests, and beliefs.
Education as a central structure and process involved in any kind of liberating dialogue has the potential to provide a means of both conceptualising the contemporary postmodern condition and also of engaging in action in local and global contexts.
Many people use the two terms - education and schooling - interchangeably; others subsume schooling under education. In the latter, education refers basically to the education system (schools, colleges, training centres, universities in public and private sectors) together with other educational forms to be found as in-house education, training and professional development in business and public sector organisations.
Alternatively one can use the terms as a way of pointing out the historical, cultural, political and social processes of transforming people into citizens and members of particular social groupings. This is a form of 'domesticating' people, making them 'fit in' to what ever the demands of the social group into which they are born and live are. I call this kind of process, schooling. Its function is thus to mould, shape, and fashion the minds, bodies and behaviours of people. It employs a pedagogy of instruction in what is 'right' and 'wrong', what are 'facts' and what are not, what is 'good' and what is 'bad'. Emphasis is given to learning information and repeating this information in tests that are marked according to the extent that the repetition is faithful to some original text. Memory therefore is accorded prime place under schooling. One of the earlier meanings of education, in fact was that of 'child rearing' and 'animal taming'. I think education now needs to withdraw from this kind of meaning. Schooling however given its more recent historical associations with controlling, forming and fashioning the minds of behaviours of young people. Here the emphasis is upon the meaning of education is 'leading' the individual (as in training any animal) to engage in the teacher's desired forms of behaviour. Have a look at some of the historical policy statements on what schools should do.
However there is another meaning of education that has to do with 'drawing out'. The question is, who 'draws out what'? If it is a teacher drawing out what they believe to be in the best interests of the child, then I still call this a form of schooling. In schooling the locus of power is external to the child/student. It is the adult who defines and imposes. And of course, adults do not just freely define and impose what they believe to be best. Rather, it is those in power who define the policies.
If however the locus of power and agency is with the individual (whether child or adult) then what is drawn out are the interests, potential and creativity of the individual as they reflect upon the world about. The individual, by reflecting upon experience is able to draw out possibilities for courses of action (curricula). This reflection may be carried out in community with others in order to bring about an educative community. Of course, imaginative, creative, innovative possibilities may well challenge the traditional forms of thinking and doing prescribed by the processes of schooling, the culture of a given society and so on. The notions of a spherical earth, and that the earth was not the centre of the universe were in their time 'herasies'. Education can be dangerous!
Education I say is a good term to describe the antithesis to schooling. Education is the process of exploring alternative ways of thinking, doing, believing, expressing one's self. It is the process through which one forms one's own judgement independently of those who set them selves up (or are set up institutionally) to be the judges of others. Education depends on dialogue between people as equals. Schooling depends on there being an authority (teacher, the textbook, guru, leader etc) to authorise what is going to be counted as correct and worthy of some certificate or other symbol of 'accreditation'. Education is about freedom of thought, judgement and action. Schooling is about following norms of behaviour and thinking that have been legislated by authorities (governments, examination boards, 'tradition' etc). I want to make clear that both the processes of schooling and education can occur anywhere, even schools, colleges and universities! We all need 'information' as a basis for reflection. This may suggest that schooling is necessary. However, what is very necessary in a world that is complex, uncertain and always changing is education. It is through the educative process that creativity, spontaneity, innovation is 'educated', that is 'drawn out' as possibilities for realisation and action. Education is a fundamental process for democracy as schooling is a fundamental process for non democratic forms of political organisation. This becomes clear in the education of views.
The Education of Views
Rancière (2004) wrote about the ignorant schoolmaster - Jacotot for whom:
It is always a question of relating what one does not know to what one knows, to observe and to compare, to say and to verify. The pupil is always a searcher. And the master is first of all a human being who speaks to another, who tells stories, restoring authority to knowledge only on the poetic condition of every verbal transmission.
In this view the master has nothing to do with the Master-Slave formulation, nor with its modified forms of Leader-Led, or Boss-Worker. In these latter cases there is only ever one view, that of those who speak from the position of power: the Master, the Leader, the Boss. There are many ways in which the position of power can be articulated. It can be articulated in terms of gender, race, religion, social class, age.
What Rancière sees in the approach adopted by Jacotot is a way of relating to others that is able to share what one does know in relation to recognising and making clear that we are all equal in terms of our ignorance. None of us knows everything and we're not even sure of much of what we claim to know. Descartes constructed his system around the simple question of asking what could be known for certainty. In order to do this he decided to doubt everything:
So, because our senses sometimes play us false, I decided to suppose that there was nothing at all which was as such as they cause us to imagine it; and because there are men who make mistakes in reasoning, even with the simplest geometrical matters, and make paralogisms, judging that I was liable to error as anyone else, I rejected as being false all the reasonings I had hitherto accepted as proofs. And finally, considering that all the same thoughts that we have when we are awake can also come to us when we are asleep, without anyone of them being truer than the illusions of my dreams. But immediately afterwards I became aware that, while I decided thus to think that everything was false, it followed necessarily that I who thought thus must be something; and observing that this truth: I think, therefore I am, was so certain and so evident that all the most extravagant suppositions of the sceptics were not capable of shaking it, I judged that I could accept it without scruple as the first principle of the philosophy I was seeking.
(Descartes, 2001: 53-4)
This seemed to privilege individual human reason. However, even in asking the question concerning certainty requires or presupposes a world of human thought and action as a context to asking the question. Interaction with others is presupposed, albeit under a cloud of suspicion. Linking this with the notion of the pupil as always a 'searcher' in the context of being with others who are also searching and creating the conditions of mutual learning, education can be employed to refer to the process of 'drawing out' the conditions under which a public space of mutual inquiry can take place where each view adopted is subjected to a critical process of skeptical questioning.
The methodological implications of this education of multiple views is more fully developed in Schostak (2006; see also Interviewing – Creating the Space for Views)
(page under development)
Descartes, R. (2001) Discourse on Method, (trans. R. E. Sutcliffe) Harmondsworth: Penguin Books
Rancière, J. (2004) Sur "Le maitre ignorant" Mise en ligne le lundi 1er novembre 2004, http://multitudes.samizdat.net/article.php3?id_article=1714
Schostak, J.F. (2006) Interviewing and Representation in Qualitative Research Projects, Open University press