Power and education

Montreal police abuse Montreal Police Violated Protesters’ Rights During Student Protests, Says Report
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Want to think about power in education.

Power is in the classroom, in schools, power is everywhere in education.
Education does open or close doors to possible futures of students.
Teachers get jobs or get fired or underpaid.
Students do exercise power to abuse students or teachers.
Grading and power are connected. http://mcjohnstone.com/moocs/cheating-as-learning/
Governments use power to keep control on education, allocate money, close universities.

And (one of my teachers often said) power will lead to abuse.

At first view the Educational system is a hierarchy with a top-down chain of command. But look closer and the system is more complicated. As always when we take a closer look. Students and parents are a powerful force. if they want.
The educational industry is more rhizomatic (Complex) than arboreal. Power and influence are hidden and everywhere in the system are short-cuts.
Changing the educational system is not easy, because it is a very big system with roots everywhere in society.

Students are not the most important part of the system. The system is more important than the students or other parts of the system.
The system has some functions in society:

  1. providing a qualified workforce, with knowledge and the right social skills
  2. educating the masses and unifying the people.
  3. keeping young people busy and in good care, because dad and mom must go out working.
  4. the country must be part of the knowledge society in order to earn money.
  5. very much people do earn a living in the educational system.
  6. social capital needs education to reproduce
  7. some schools are connected to religious groups and churches for many reasons
  8. countries try to import brains from other countries, educational system as a fishing net.
  9. Sociology of education can add more functions to this list.

These functions need power to make the system work in the desired way. Pressure groups, committees, politics, companies, unions are busy to use the system for their own reasons. They want to adapt the curriculum, influence teachers and students.
Parties will try to impose their goals and objectives to the system.
Abuse of power is possible in all levels of the system.

Even the system has power. When in 2020 all USA citizens will graduate from college, graduating from college will devaluate. NObody wants this outcome (I think) but it will happen.

What is the connection between power and rhizomatic learning?

5 thoughts on “Power and education

  1. Hello Jaap, I agree that power is a big part of education today, and power is an important part of all games. Where I work, the power of students and their guardians is taken very seriously, so complex strategic measures are taken to attempt to thwart that power, to neutralize it. Seems, no one can just stop playing.

    But, learning isn’t about power, it’s about collaboration and cooperation. I deal with this, myself, by refusing to play these games. When students understand that I am not playing but cooperating – they stop playing too and we can get down to doing what we’re supposed to be doing.

  2. Ha Mark, In class power can be very clear and visible, and teachers and students must find a solution for that part of the power game. In the educational rhizome / system power is often invisible.

  3. Indeed, what is the connection Jaap? Where is the power in rhizomatic learning?

    At a first glance, I think it reverts back to the usual power relationships between persons – that is, becomes free from the structured hierarchy of usual educational systems. In ordinary relationships, there is power too, but it is a more or less floating/ephemeral thing, that can change quickly and unexpectedly. What say you?

  4. Power structures are bigger than educational system. Thats is why it is difficult to change education.
    I prefer the known power over the hidden power. Because …
    As far as I know every revolution ended with power for the powerful and trouble for the majority. I do not know if a rhizomatic revolution would be different.

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