From Whose Perspective

From Whose Perspective

“To the extent we continue to polarize the debate, with privileged power brokers dictating investments and practices designed to circumvent the professionals…we’re doomed to failure” says Cheryl Scott Williams’s Commentary in Education Week, October 17, 2012 (

Thanks, Cheryl, for putting it together in one sentence.

Something that is happening all over “the world” (including in most so-called “developed” countries) can’t be countered by “reasonable argument.” There’s an agenda debate underlying the phenomenon between reformers like me and the phenomenon called GERM (the Global Education Reform Movement). It was fascinating to hear it reiterated in one country after another in Brussels, at the gathering of 140 or so representatives of trade unions around the world, last week. Although not necessarily encouraging.

If democracy really presumes that “everyman” (and woman) is a member of the ruling class, then schooling for “leaders” of the future, the privileged, etc. may not be the proper agenda for reform.  Most, as products of privileged families (not all) and privileged schools (mostly private), have spent a lifetime internalizing the message of their “special” mission to create the future. So quite aside from greed or ambition, they have been trained to see themselves as entitled, due to their intrinsic merit. I went to such a school–a very good one with high ethical principles. But the explanation of why it had to be “selective” – even choosy amongst the rich – was that its job was to prepare the future leaders of a complex democratic society.

Amen to the purpose. But is there not another perspective, one tougher to tackle? Parcitularly, what should schooling look like in a democracy where everyone is supposed to be a member of the ruling class? Such an agenda is harder, more problematic, and will therefore also more often fail? I say yes.

3 Responses

  1. Such an important question you are raising! Are we training only leaders (of what? sheep?) or are we training everyone to think well, participate actively and vote wisely. This seems to me the key query at the heart of education. I have the following quote from Paolo Freire posted on my kitchen cabinet..

    “Education as the exercise of domination stimulates the credulity of students, with the ideological intent (often not perceived by the educators) of indoctrinating them to adapt to the world of oppression.

    Thanks for your continued stirring of the pot!

    • Being one of those SA pros w/o a Student Affairs degree, I have to say it wodlun’t be the end of the world. Sure, there are times when I wish I would have taken a counseling course or two, but my one student development theory course combined with my experience as a GA in activities allowed me to move into my first job as facilities coordinator where I then learned the Ops side of the house. With an MA in Organizational Communication, I feel well-prepared to navigate management and work with all kinds of people. Great post, Jeff.

  2. I could see student deelmopvent theory fitting well in the psychology department. Developmental psychology typically deals with either birth to adolescence or birth through adolescence. This piece, deelmopvent as a young adult, would be the logical next step. This would also change the fact the currently, those with undergraduate and even advanced degrees in psychology and counseling don’t know the names or theories of our folks.

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