Is the purpose of school and university to educate workers or citizens?

”The last thing the current ruling class wants is a group of people trained to think critically, i.e., question the structure and conventions propagated by the ruling classes. . . ….what the ruling class wants are technicians.”

Dr Robert Lawless, Cultural Anthropologist, Wichita State University

This is a great quote from an article in U.S. radical journal Counterpunch on the appalling state of the commodified higher education system in the States.

This system, that the ConDems are so insanely eager to establish here, sees training a competent workforce to be the primary function of education. The idea that the first duty of schools and universities should be to educate our children to be free thinking democratic citizens able to live the richest creative, intellectual and emotional lives possible, seems entirely absent.

On the contrary it seems the job of schools and universities today is to provide workers educated only to the level of technical competency required by corporate capitalism – anything else is “indulgent” or “a waste of resources”.

The full article is here



About I Am Not A Number

I Am Not A Number is written by Chris Jury. For 30 years Chris Jury was a TV actor, director and writer best known for playing Eric Catchpole in over 60 episodes of the BBC’s antique classic, Lovejoy, and for directing over 50 episodes of Eastenders. In 2008 he was appointed as the Senior Lecturer in Recorded Media in the School Of Music & Performing Arts at Bath Spa University. He currently presents, Agitpop, a pop & politics radio discussion programme on North Cotswold Community Radio He is currently the Communications Officer for UCU at Bath Spa University and a UCU SW Regional Rep at SWTUC.
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3 Responses to Is the purpose of school and university to educate workers or citizens?

  1. For many years of my young adult life it appeared that I was destined to be a professional college student. By the time I finally earned a bachelor’s degree I had accumulated about 3 times the number of college hours required. Perhaps a college environment is tailored only for certain personalities and not for others. I never felt that it was a good fit for me. It became abundantly clear to me that I learn much better when conducting a solitary and personal search for knowledge – unencumbered by the constraints and demands of a regimented course burdened with time schedules, assignments, grades, stress, and pressures. Equipped with the ability to read and quality books I feel confident that I can learn a subject much more effectively and thoroughly if I simply have the freedom to learn on my own, at my own speed, guided by my own curiosity and interests. I believe that I can master any college course much better on my own than as a tuition-paying student subjected to the stresses and distractions of a college environment, and the demands and exorbitant costs of a formal for-credit course.
    Unless one is fortuitously endowed with ample independent wealth the need to earn one’s livelihood is of paramount importance and the goal of becoming a free-thinking democratic citizen able to live the richest creative, intellectual and emotional life is a trivial luxury reserved for the fortunate rich with time on their hands. I believe that any sane individual given the choice between expeditiously learning an occupation that provides stable employment along with the income to fund a comfortable lifestyle for the wage earner and his or her family – OR – expending several years of one’s life accumulating a substantial college tuition debt as one studies non-essential subjects – will choose the first option. Supplied with an ability to read and an interest in learning, anyone with the desire and the time can – at minimal expense – acquire as much knowledge as desired in the process of becoming a free-thinking democratic citizen. An expensive college education is not a prerequisite for living a creative, intellectual and emotional life. An entirely adequate substitute for college is a healthy brain, the ability to read, curiosity, desire, and a well-stocked public library.

  2. Jenny says:

    Such a great question and one that more people should ask themselves – not only about their education, but about their life. Are we in it for maximizing consumption or for actually living a life full of what we want for ourselves? Are we critically looking at all aspects of society – not just taking them for granted? I think there is a lot of people, myself included, that need to wake up and realize that nothing is given and you have to be the change you wish to see. Keep it up, I will be following you. Jenny

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