Schooling as Violence: How Schools Harm Pupils and Societies

Schooling as Violence: How Schools Harm Pupils and Societies

Schooling as Violence: How Schools Harm Pupils and Societies

Schooling as Violence: How Schools Harm Pupils and Societies

Synopsis

Asking fundamental and often uncomfortable questions about the nature and purposes of formal education, this book explores the three main ways of looking at the relationship between formal education, individuals and society:* that education improves society* that education reproduces society exactly as it is* that education makes society worse and harms individuals.Whilst educational policy documents and much academic writing and research stresses the first function and occasionally make reference to the second, the third is largely played down or ignored.In this unique and thought-provoking book, Clive Harber argues that while schooling can play a positive role, violence towards children originating in the schools system itself is common, systematic and widespread internationally and that schools play a significant role in encouraging violence in wider society. Topics covered include physical punishment, learning to hate others, sexual abuse, stress and anxiety, and the militarization of school. The book both provides detailed evidence of such forms of violence and sets out an analysis of schooling that explains why they occur. In contrast, the final chapter explores existing alternative forms of education which are aimed at the development of democracy and peace.This book should be read by anyone involved in education - from students and academics to policy-makers and practitioners around the world.

Excerpt

…it is both intriguing and depressing to note that while the finest minds engaged themselves in the long struggle for universal basic education, once provision as such was universalised many of them lost interest in what was provided

(Alexander 2000:172)

I should not be in a position to write this book. Education and learning as manifested in formal schooling should be, and is usually taken to be, obviously and consistently good for pupils. However, the sad truth is that formal, mass education-schooling-cannot automatically be linked with enlightenment, progress and liberty and indeed too often can be linked to pain and suffering. Those who have read the works of writers such as Illich (1971), Nyerere (1967), Freire (1972), Postman and Weingartner (1969) and Holt (1969) that came out of educational debates of the late 1960s and early 1970s will be familiar with the argument that all too often the hallmarks of conventional schooling are authoritarianism, boredom, irrelevance, frustration and alienation. These were and are important arguments that influenced the present writer. However, this book differs from these previous works in a number of important respects. First, the central argument of this book is that the situation is too often actually worse than the one portrayed in these now classic texts in that formal schooling has often been directly violent both to learners and to the wider society. Overwhelmingly educational debates globally concentrate either on access (e.g. Education For All) and/or on the positive outcomes of schooling. There is also some recognition of the role of schooling in reproducing social, economic and political inequality, including certain forms of violence, though this is less common. While these perspectives are important and have much truth in them, what is usually ignored or not admitted is that schools are often violent towards children and directly involved in the active perpetration of violence in the wider society. Reference in the press to violence in schools is most commonly about pupil to teacher or pupil to pupil violence. While this is often very distressing and unpleasant for those

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