A HEAT (Higher Education & Theory) Symposium, with John Beck and Matthew Cornford (The Art School and the Culture Shed), David J. Blacker (The Falling Rate of Learning and the Neoliberal Endgame), and Nina Power (One-Dimensional Woman).
Friday 7th November
2pm – 6pm (followed by drinks reception)
Westminster Forum (5th Floor, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street)
Co-hosted by Institute for Modern & Contemporary Culture (IMCC) and the Higher Education Research Centre (HERC) at the University of Westminster.
David J. Blacker defines educational eliminationism as a state of affairs in which elites no longer find it necessary to utilize mass schooling as a first link in the long chain of the process of the extraction of workers’ surplus labour value but instead cut their losses and abandon public schooling altogether. John Beck and Matthew Cornford have charted the decline of local art schools and concordant rise of the ‘destination’ art gallery, and asked what this tells us about the changing relationship between the function of education and art in the new creative economy. Nina Power argues that current attacks on the education system are part and parcel of a broader war on cognitive and immaterial labour, upon which the art world provides a peculiarly privileged vantage point.
Drawing on the etymological and political association between culture and colonization, this symposium seeks to investigate the currently shifting relationship between education and culture through the themes of eliminationism and colonization.
John Beck is Professor in English Literature at the University of Westminster, director of the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture (IMCC), and author of Dirty wars: landscape, power, and waste in Western American literature and (with Matthew Cornford) The Art School and the Culture Shed.
David J. Blacker is a Professor of Philosophy of Education and Legal Studies at the University of Delaware, editor of Education Review, edrev.info., and author of The Falling Rate of Learning and the Neoliberal Endgame and Democratic Education Stretched thin: How Complexity Challenges a Democratic Ideal.
Matthew Cornford is Professor of Fine Art at the University of Brighton, has a longstanding collaborative art practice with David Cross, and author (with John Beck) of The Art School and the Culture Shed.
Nina Power is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Roehampton University, regularly writes for the Guardian and New Humanist, co-editor of Alain Badiou’s On Beckett and author of One-Dimensional Woman.
rsvp to the organizer: M.Charles1@westminster.ac.uk
‘Machiavelli wrote: “You must know that there are two ways of contesting, the one by the law, the other by force; the first is the method proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second. Therefore it is necessary for a prince to understand how to avail himself of the beast and the man.” And he adds this: “This has been figuratively taught to princes by ancient writers, who describe how Achilles and many other princes of old were given to the Centaur Chiron to nurse, who brought them up in his discipline; which means solely that, as they had for a teacher one who was half beast and half man, so it is necessary for a prince to know how to make us of both natures, and that one without the other is not durable.”
At the centre of the labyrinth which serves as a tailpiece in [Klossowski’s] Nietzsche et le Cercle vicieux, we will find, not a Minotaur, stupid beast with his monstrous appetite, but a Centaur, a monster more intelligent than the most intelligent of men, the image of the marvellous dissimulation of signs into one another, supreme wisdom which includes the stupidity of bestiality … And if Caesar must be removed from his mother’s womb by opening it up by force, against nature, it is because Caesar, political master, is a monster made of man and beast…
But Sade also says… that a republic government always menaced by the despots surrounding it must have as its sole morality its maintenance by any means, that it is ruled out that the means are all moral, that on the contrary it must be immoral men who by their movement of perpetual insurrection keep the republic government on the alert… Functional duplicity of the sites of luxury as regards the political sphere itself, at once the charge and discharge of energies: criminality, this perpetual mobility of those which Plato, in The Republic, named hornets, and which he wanted to eliminate, provides the government with a twofold service, in the danger presented to it from the excesses of its insatiability, by requiring the institution of criminal spaces which are discharge points for them and for it. Here Sade revives the great Machiavellian tradition of the connivance of the politician and the beast, the tradition of Chiron the Centaur, instructor to Princes, duplicitous political par excellence.’
Dennis Hayes (Professor of Education at University of Derby) makes the case at The Conversation for chucking out textbooks on classroom practice and replacing them with theoretical reflections on education (see my own defence of a transdisciplinary theorizing of education/pedagogizing of theory here). Here’s his self-professed ‘attempt at an education canon’, which, if nothing else, should keep the Higher Education and Theory reading group I organize at the University of Westminster busy for the next decade. It was also enjoyable to see his suggestions for the best fictional works on education, as I’ve been soliciting suggestions for a possible MA module on “Literature in/as Education”. Now, back to the books…
I have often argued that I would not let any teacher into a school unless – as a minimum – they had read, carefully and well, the three great books on education: Plato’s Republic, Rousseau’s Émile and Dewey’s Democracy and Education. There would be no instrumental purpose in this, but the struggle to understand these books and the thinking involved in understanding them would change teachers and ultimately teaching.
These are the three great books because each is sociologically whole. They each present a description and arguments for an education for a particular and better society. You do not have to agree with these authors. Plato’s tripartite education for a just society ruled over by philosopher kings; Rousseau’s education through nature to establish the social contract and Dewey’s relevant, problem-solving democratic education for a democratic society can all be criticised. That is not the point. The point is to understand these great works. They constitute the intellectual background to any informed discussion of education.
What of more modern works? I used to recommend the “blistering indictment” of the flight from traditional liberal education that is Melanie Phillips’s All Must Have Prizes, to be read alongside Tom Bentley’s Learning Beyond the Classroom: Education for a Changing World, which is a defence of a wider view of learning for the “learning age”. These two books defined the debate in the 1990s between traditional education by authoritative teachers and its rejection in favour of a new learning in partnership with students.
Much time and money is spent on teacher training and continuing professional development and much of it is wasted. A cheaper and better way of giving student teachers and in-service teachers an understanding of education would be to get them to read the 50 great works on education.
The books I have identified, with the help of members of the Institute of Ideas’ Education Forum, teachers and colleagues at several universities, constitute an attempt at an education “canon”.
What are “out” of my list are textbooks and guides to classroom practice. What are also “out” are novels and plays. But there are some great literary works that should be read by every teacher: Charles Dicken’s Hard Times – for Gradgrind’s now much-needed celebration of facts; D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow – for Ursula Brangwen’s struggle against her early child-centred idealism in the reality of St Philips School; and Alan Bennett’s The History Boys – for Hector’s role as the subversive teacher committed to knowledge.
I hope I have produced a list of books, displayed here in alphabetical order, that are held to be important by today’s teachers. I make no apology for including the book I wrote with Kathryn Ecclestone, The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education because it is an influential critical work that has produced considerable controversy. If you disagree with this, or any other of my choices, please add your alternative “canonical” books on education.
Michael W. Apple – Official Knowledge: Democratic Education in a Conservative Age (1993)
Hannah Arendt – Between Past and Future (1961), for the essay “The Crisis in Education” (1958)
Matthew Arnold – Culture and Anarchy (1867-9)
Robin Barrow – Giving Teaching Back to the Teachers (1984)
Tom Bentley – Learning Beyond The Classroom: Education for a Changing World (1998)
Allan Bloom – The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students (1987)
Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron – Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (1977)
Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis – Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life (1976)
Jerome Bruner – The Process of Education (1960)
John Dewey – Democracy and Education (1916)
Margaret Donaldson – Children’s Minds (1978)
JWB Douglas – The Home and the School (1964)
Kathryn Ecclestone and Dennis Hayes – The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education (2008)
Harold Entwistle – Antonio Gramsci: Conservative Schooling for Radical Politics (1979).
Paulo Freire – Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968/1970)
Frank Furedi – Wasted: Why Education Isn’t Educating (2009)
Helene Guldberg – Reclaiming Childhood (2009)
ED Hirsch Jnr. – The Schools We Need And Why We Don’t Have Them (1999)
Paul H Hirst – Knowledge and the Curriculum(1974)
For the essay which appears as Chapter 3 ‘Liberal Education and the Nature of Knowledge’ (1965)
John Holt – How Children Fail (1964)
Eric Hoyle – The Role of the Teacher (1969)
James Davison Hunter – The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age without Good or Evil (2000)
Ivan Illich – Deschooling Society (1971)
Nell Keddie (Ed.) – Tinker, Taylor: The Myth of Cultural Deprivation (1973)
John Locke – Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1692)
John Stuart Mill – Autobiography (1873)
Sybil Marshall – An Experiment in Education (1963)
Alexander Sutherland Neil – Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing (1960)
John Henry Newman – The Idea of a University (1873)
Michael Oakeshott – The Voice of Liberal Learning (1989)
In particular for the essay “Education: The Engagement and Its Frustration” (1972)
Anthony O’ Hear – Education, Society and Human Nature: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education (1981)
Richard Stanley Peters – Ethics and Education (1966)
Melanie Phillips – All Must Have Prizes (1996)
Plato – The Republic (366BC?)
Plato – Protagoras(390BC?) and Meno (387BC?)
Neil Postman – The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School (1995)
Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner – Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969)
Herbert Read – Education Through Art(1943)
Carl Rogers – Freedom to Learn: A View of What Education Might Become (1969)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Émile or “on education” (1762)
Bertrand Russell – On Education(1926)
Israel Scheffler – The Language of Education (1960)
Brian Simon – Does Education Matter? (1985)
Particularly for the paper “Why No Pedagogy in England?” (1981)
JW Tibble (Ed.) – The Study of Education (1966)
Lev Vygotsky – Thought and Language (1934/1962)
Alfred North Whitehead – The Aims of Education and other essays (1929)
Paul E. Willis – Learning to Labour: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs (1977)
Alison Wolf – Does Education Matter? Myths about Education and Economic Growth (2002)
Michael FD Young (Ed) – Knowledge and Control: New Directions for the Sociology of Education (1971)
Michael FD Young – Bringing Knowledge Back In: From Social Constructivism to Social Realism in the Sociology of Education (2007)
Dennis Hayes does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.