Education - change it completely?

From New Internationalist Easier English Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Education – change it completely?

By Amit Singh


British children have to wear a uniform to school. So they get used to wearing what people tell them to wear (elmimmo under a Creative Commons Licence)

Education is important in politics now. Governments across the world have thought about the best way to develop their children. But they usually do it in a similar way.

Some people think education, through schools and universities, is to develop the minds of young people and help them learn to think as much as they can. But the truth is that the plan of the education system is to produce workers for a capitalist system.

Education does not try to develop young minds. Education mainly tries to create passive adults who agree with everything and don’t try to think in different ways.

This seems cynical. But if we look closely, it’s easy to see how education helps the power structure stay the same: a white, patriarchal, capitalist structure.

The basic structure of schooling shows this. School, like business, is usually a five-day working week. And like a work day – at least in Britain – it’s about eight hours a day.

This pattern gets children into a routine that they will follow for the rest of their lives (but probably with longer hours and less interest).

British children have to wear a uniform to school. So they get used to wearing what people tell them to wear. This prepares us to wear suits to work when we are adults. People see a work suit as the sign of a successful career – not as prison clothes that we have to wear.

Do children really need to be locked up for eight hours a day, five days a week? Probably not. And worse - most of the time they are inside, not outside or being creative.

Ken Robinson said in his excellent Ted Talk ‘Do schools kill creativity?’ that schools make maths and science more important than developing our dramatic and creative sides. (see:

That’s because most careers which work with capitalist economies need people to work hard and agree. Our bosses want us to do things when they ask us to. But they don’t want us to be too creative.

Capitalism doesn’t encourage creativity or free thinking. That would be dangerous and might be bad for the system.

Noam Chomsky showed this when he said that education is complicated. It takes away people who are too independent, people who have original ideas and people who don’t know how to agree and follow others, because they are not good for businesses.

This is interesting. For example when we see how people who don’t follow all the others are usually called ‘troublemakers’. People say that children who question authority are naughty and rebellious. But really questioning authority is a very important thing to do.

This does not encourage people to think independently. The most likely people to succeed are people who quickly learn to agree and be passive with people in authority.

In school, you have to do what people tell you to do. This is exactly how the government works and is exactly how big businesses work.

It’s not surprising that so many bankers agree with corruption, when they should speak out and become whistleblowers. The bosses of a banker who used to work for Credit Suisse AG told him, when he there was a tax evasion scandal: ‘You know what we expect of you – don’t let them catch you.’

Many people want jobs like his in our society and schools. They think earning money is more important than being happy. Children and teenagers then begin to think the wrong things are important. This makes our reality different.

In 1968, Paulo Freire (educator and philosopher in Brazil) talked about this in his important book Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire said that if you teach children to learn and remember lots of facts, this means they do not develop the ability to be critical. You need this ability to be critical if you want to break down the controlling power structures.

This is a bigger problem when teachers teach children to support white, capitalist patriarchy. This does not show society as it really is, for example how the history curriculum in Britain is racist. (see:

We need to change education to help children develop enjoyment, creativity and free thinking, not just to agree without thinking. We need to encourage children to be part of the creation of knowledge, not empty things that we fill with what we think we know.

Big movements for social change need to start by changing the way children are educated. If we use the same type of education that has been used to support the system we have now, that will just keep the problem the same. We need a revolution in our schools. The system we have now is just a way to make children grow up agreeing with business and the government. And it is not good enough for our children.

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).