In our previous meeting, we discussed some principles that might underlie our decision-making in the classroom. Subsequently, I received this comment from Mark Priestley:
I decided to follow Mark's advice; we spent the next meeting thinking more specifically about educational purpose.
I have been thinking about Gert Biesta's categorisation of qualification/socialisation/subjectification, and was personally interested to see if what we discussed fitted within this framework, but did not use these to constrain the conversation.
What is education for?
This contains a summary of the our department's responses to this question:
- To work and live, to adapt to the world, to live in society, the idea of social mobility
- To gain qualifications, for exchange (economic) and use (practical) value, how these have become separated
- Instill a love of learning, personal development/transformation
- To think critically about social, political, moral issues
- Emancipation, perhaps from family, religion, to become more aware, to gain a wider (cultural) experience
We then compared these to the values of our college. How do they compare?
Becoming a better person?
I then asked - if you had a child, what would you want their education to consist of? Pooja suggested she would like them to become a better person, which created some controversy: A better person according to who? According to what values? Who gets to choose these values? Is there a conflict between the personal and societal here? Between cultures?
Pooja suggested there may be some core values that are common to all cultures, such as honesty, kindness, ... Are there? If so, what are they?
At this point, we wondered were school fits into this values-based education. We need academic study to live and work in society, to adapt to the world in which we are in. School teaches us what is valued in this society. Christian suggested that school is a microcosm of society. Is it? In what ways is this true? In what ways is this not true?
Katy then talked of choice, of democracy, and asked - to what extent are/should classrooms be democratic? What does this mean in practice?
Next meeting we will pursue this conversation further. Does what we discussed fit within Biesta's framework?
Can we find a set of purposes and values that will inform our decision making in the moment?