sábado, 14 de julio de 2007

Neoliberal globalisation and its repercussions on education

DÍEZ GUTIÉRREZ, ENRIQUE JAVIER. (2007). Neoliberal globalisation and its repercussions on education. Barcelona (Spain) : El Roure Editorial.
E-mail: enrique.diez@unileon.es


The aim of this book is not only to explain neoliberal globalisation and its repercussions on education, but also to encourage those working in education to become involved in working for change for a different kind of world and education, and to support their efforts.
The majority of the population believes that market forces represent the most efficient (if not practically the only!) method of controlling the economy. They believe in the ‘law of supply and demand’, in the sacred nature of private property, and that the State is a slow and bureaucratic organisation, whose involvement should be reduced to a minimum and which should not intervene in the economy, etc. It would seem that to “declare oneself as being against the free market is as if one were declaring oneself as being against maternity” (Susan George, 2001, p. 229.). It verges on the ingenuous to ask oneself “who designed” these beliefs, in what curriculum and in which academic programme they were included. The answer is that nobody taught them (in the strict sense of the word ‘taught’ as a formal, institutionalised pedagogical action); nevertheless, these ideas have been learnt and assimilated by the majority. Because ‘social’ ideas are taught through experience (life, work, social or professional position, etc), and the mass media does the rest; converting experience into doctrine, and reinforcing the message by rationalising it, through bringing together into one systematic whole a series of arguments and principles and repeating them insistently until they appear to be the only plausible reality.

It would seem that the educational system has always declared itself to be above this kind of socialisation, claiming a ‘false neutrality’ which these days is revealed to be impossible. Its curriculum, its organisation, the framework of educational policies within which it functions, all conform a network in synchronisation with the prevailing social system. “The educational system contributes towards ‘civilisation’, instilling a given habitus in the population: a capitalist habitus (Tenti Fanfani, 2003)”. In this way, a consensus around “common sense” has been created regarding certain basic issues related to the economy, to coexistence, society and politics, and which has been constructed with the collaboration of the educational system, or at least, its silent complicity. For this reason it “has become necessary to introduce debate, and socio-political concepts which challenge the false idea of the educational system’s neutrality, into the academic institution and into pedagogical and professional movements In this sense, it has become of fundamental importance to develop a curriculum whose contents reveal the real economic, social, political and ideological mechanisms of power” (Cascante, 1997, p. 34).

This book, therefore, is not neutral, and does not try to be. No book can ever be so, as all are written from the ideological standpoint of the author. This book is written from an ideological perspective which aims to be openly egalitarian, humane and emancipatory. In this sense it aims to be a tool both for teachers and the general public, when thinking about something which affects us all deeply, both in public and personal life, and which teachers often are unaware of. Therefore, it does not try to introduce new ideas so much as to provide a synthesis of present thought and analysis among critical thinkers, giving especial emphasis to repercussions in the field of education and the alternatives which are currently being proposed.

It is written in an accessible style, bearing in mind the comment made by the Wu Ming collective (2002, p. 91): “in order for a different world to be possible, it should also be possible to imagine it and make it possible for others to imagine it too”.

The book is divided into two fundamental parts. The first focuses on an analysis of neoliberal globalisation and its repercussions on all aspects of life, but especially on education The second, constructive and positive in tone, looks in depth at the alternatives to globalisation which have arisen in the last decade, and also at what kind of proposals for a critical education have been made.

If we wish to understand the problematic of present day education, we have no alternative but to take into account the economic, social and cultural phenomenon of globalisation. In order to analyse the main problems facing the world today and their relation to education properly, it is necessary that we can first conceptualise them clearly. It is only from this analysis that we can clearly understand the effects of globalisation on education. And this forms the last chapter of the first part of the book. In it, the consequences of neoliberal reforms are examined in the area of public education; how this affects daily educational dynamics, the organisation and functioning of educational centres, and the very concept of what the learning process should consist of, and what a curriculum should contain.

Following on from this, the positive message of the second part of the book is developed. Are alternatives possible? Using this question as a starting point, proposals which have been developed over recent years, or those which resulted from previous experiences but which are now recognised as being part of the fight against neoliberal globalisation and are thus being reconsidered, are examined. Within this framework, some of the global educational proposals, which emphasise the necessity and urgency for working within and for a different world, are put forward in the last chapter of the book.

It is necessary to join forces, some pragmatic, some utopian, some more immediate, others more long-term, but all necessary. Always bearing in mind the ultimate goal, that the fundamental issue, the basic aim, must be the construction of a more just, humane and free society for all.