Sunday, January 30, 2022



Education is an integral part of any social system. Feudal society required little of the peasants by way of education. The Industrial Revolution demanded more - workers who could make, tend and repair machines, and some who could keep records and books. In the 20th century, the process was continued - mass education was fashioned into an increasingly refined training and selection mechanism for the labour force.

There is conventional mythology surrounding the noble ideals of education. Schools are said to be places where young minds are nurtured, where boys and girls are prepared to become responsible citizens. In the present society, the main aim of education is to provide the knowledge and skills base necessary for employment in capitalism. Dominated by commodity relationships and values, education both reflects and contributes to those relationships and values. Under capitalism, most people don’t get the chance to develop their capacities.

The inherent inequality between teacher and pupil has led some critics to question the value of "schooling". The concern has been that hierarchical and autocratic teacher-pupil relationships concentrate power in the hands of teachers and lead children to acquire attitudes of docility and submission to authority. A critique of authoritarian schooling as simply preparation for employment led to a movement for "de-schooling"

So, what would education be like in a socialist society? A detailed description obviously cannot be given, however, it is very clear that, in complete contrast to capitalism, socialism will put human need first. The welfare and needs of people, both as individuals and as a community will be treated as a priority. The importance of developing to the full, the mental, physical and social abilities and talents of everyone, as individuals, will undoubtedly be recognised. Most significantly, education will inevitably be considered a lifelong process and certainly not something to be compartmentalised into time slots, like happens under the present system. As a result of this, people will be able to lead far more satisfying lives than could ever be even remotely achieved under capitalism. This satisfaction would derive from the contributions to the overall material, intellectual social and cultural wealth of society which people would be able to make and, of course, from the fact that, as individuals, they would be able to enjoy the fruits of the common store. Learning is better stimulated through a holistic and experiential approach and would be available on-demand at all life stages. From the moment a baby emerges from the womb (perhaps, even before that) it begins the process of learning. "Playing" is a part of that process. We cannot visualise a socialist society where children are regimented into education, conveyor-belt style. Basic schooling would take a huge shift away from the narrow confines of a rigid, test-based curriculum. Endless possibilities would be available from an early age to stimulate children. No financial budget means more "educators, facilitators, trainers, coaches, mentors" etc. to guide young and old through a much wider educational experience. Universal education can only raise levels in all areas important to the well-being of society whether knowledge, awareness, tolerance, capabilities, wider appreciation of self and others, resulting in wealth being measured in human terms. It will take time for world socialist education to develop its own character, and there is no reason to suppose that it will take the same form for everyone everywhere.

A quotation from the Communist Manifesto sums up the situation well:
“In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

Here, the term “free development” can be taken to include education. In a socialist society, there would be no financial constraints since the monetary system will have been abolished and production will be carried out solely for human need. The stresses and strains of cutbacks and needless austerity measures will finally have been abolished forever and at last, humanity will be able to move forward, considerably through genuine and effective education, towards real progress, both as individuals and as a community. The knowledge and skills needed to run a society that inherits the best from the past and rejects the worst will be circulated and developed among adults, and the ability to think creatively and critically transmitted from generation to generation. There will surely be different approaches to — even controversies about that task.

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