George Walford: Ideology in Education

Should the school be adapted to the child or the child to the school? An inclination in either direction is notoriously linked with political outlook, and this suggests a connection with the underlying system of major ideologies. Zvi Lamm, a professor of education in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has cut across these roundabout associations, demonstrating direct one-to-one connections between the principal approaches to education and the various major ideologies as presented in systematic ideology. His study is entitled “From the Absence of any Chance to Unlimited Opportunities: The Concept of ‘A Second Chance’ Viewed Ideologically”; it appears as a chapter in a collective work: Second Chance in Education. [1]

After introducing the concept of an ideological structure underlying social activities and identifying its main components (using the protostatic – paradynamic series of terms rather than the expediency – repudiation set), Lamm discusses the response displayed by each of these ideological groups towards the idea of a second chance in education. The protostatic group, in this connection as in others, shows little interest in any social issues, its members concentrating rather upon their private and family affairs; in the very early human communities in which only this ideology appeared, nothing corresponding to what we mean by a school was to be found. Organised education came together with structured society and the emergence of the next major ideology in the series, the epistatic. This sees the existing social arrangements as established by tradition, or divine prescription. Opportunities, at least in any sense in which they might upset routine and recognised status, are not to be rigidly suppressed, for flexibility is needed to ensure stability, but neither is effort to be expended on making them more widely available; an epistatic educational system does not set out to provide second chances. The third group (Lamm notes the tendency for each group to be smaller than its predecessor) does not just accept the idea of opportunities being offered to each individual person but welcomes it; here status largely ceases to be something inherent in the person or family and becomes instead a reward to be won by the exercise of effort and ability in competition. Here equality, in the sense that opportunities, chances, are or ought to be equal, becomes important.

This concludes the eidostatic section of the series, the next ideology along the range being the first of the eidodynamic ones. Known as the protodynamic, it recognises that the operations of the previous ideologies, in education as in other fields, result in people being highly unequal, in a system, as Lamm puts it, “which bestows opportunities upon those who have already taken advantage of opportunities in the past, and withholds them from those who have not had theta so far.” The protodynamic seeks to go beyond a society protecting the person’s freedom to one which shall be actively supportive, and one way in which it does this is by ensuring that, particularly in the crucial school years, a second chance shall be available to those who for any reason failed to derive full advantage from the first. It is, particularly, this ideology that supports the concept of a second chance in current educational theorising.

The epidynamic, appearing on the political stage as communism, takes the second chance beyond a merely individual opportunity to offer it to society in the form of revolution. Next, concluding the eidodynamic part of the range, comes the paradynamic, bringing the anarchistic repudiation of all that state society is and has been, authoritarian education with the rest; education till now has been just another way of keeping people in subjection. Humanity has wasted its first chance on the state; the true second chance, in education as in other activities, will come with the society of freedom.

[1] Inbar D. ed. 1990 Second Chance in Education, an interdisciplinary and international perspective London etc. Falmer Press.

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COMPETITION is more often forced on individualists than welcomed by them, and they commonly try to avoid it, one recent large-scale example of this being the merger between the Sky and BSB television systems. [2] Full freedom of economic action would include the freedom to set up mergers, cartels, price-rings, monopolies and other arrangements by which a group of individuals attempt to further their interests against those of the collectivity. [2] Reported in the Observer 11 November 1990.

from Ideological Commentary 51, May 1991.