Friday, July 13, 2007

(I discovered a lode of draft blogs which once saved were long forgotten. These I will finish and publish)

Education quote (from 2004) - The nature of humanity and state of society

The purpose of education is always an interesting philosophical debate.

This quote is taken from a book The Liberal Tide: From Tyranny to Liberty (edited by Jim Peron), the article itself coming from a person called Frank Chodorov

"In one way or another, this idea [social collectivism] has insinuated itself into almost every branch of thought and has become institutionalised. Perhaps the most glaring example is the modern orientation of the philosopy of education. Many of the professionals in this field frankly assert that the primary purpose of education is not to develop the indivdual's capacity for learning, as was held in the past but to prepare him for a fruitful and "happy" place in society; his inclinations must be turned away from himself, so that he can adjust himself to the mores of his age group and beyond that to the social milieu in which he will live out his life. He is not at end in himself."

(beginning of 2007 edit)

This was written by a libertarian author whose individualistic nature is quite easy to spot. A libertarian would object to all forms of collectivism in society and it is through that prism that he analyses phenomena. Is his observation valuable?

The human species tends towards gregarious behaviour and collectivism. This is not to say that every person is sociable but that people generally like having friends and being a part of groupings, and thus gain a sense of belonging and identity. Individualism itself is usually an extreme exception in human societies of the past. Naturally, these days apparent individualism is more common but I would say that it is individualism that has insinuated itself into education and politics. That is not to say that it is an aversive thing - but it does highlight an interesting trend.

On a TV show Exposed (hosted by John Marsden), a suggestion was made that human nature had evolved to cope well in groups no greater than 500 individuals. Over that, people start to not be able to recognise or know the members of their community and start closing off. The point was that urban life exposes us to numbers much greater than that 500. I'd say that this forces the individualisation. Adjusting education to enable individualism may be an important trait for 20th and 21st century education due to the environment we live, but this has to balanced by an acknowledgement of the collectivistic needs of people. Classes should have contact with the world beyond the world of their classes. How would someone learn social responsibility if one has to focus on their own goals? You can threaten people with punishment to cause them to be responsible in their pursuit of goals, but there is not a greater method than cherishing the society in which you exist and having no desire to harm it on the way to your own personal goals.

The fear of the libertarian is that the personal goals and needs will be completely subverted by the asserted needs of the society. There is are existing examples of this but it is one location on a spectrum. But a completely individualistic society is not necessarily a better society in which to exist either.It is hard to say where our (admittedly pluralistic) society is on this spectrum but I'd say that a more collectivistic education system would be beneficial to help glue together the diversity of the society.

(I wonder what I was going to say back in 2004)

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