Education, Autonomy, and Democratic Citizenship: Philosophy in a Changing World

By David Bridges | Go to book overview

6

AUTONOMY, CITIZENSHIP, THE MARKET AND EDUCATION

Comparative perspectives

Robert Cowen

INTRODUCTION

One of the major bodies of literature which exists in educational studies, and which has grown voluminously in the last fifty years, has been the literature on development. The literature has concerned itself with questions of economic modernisation and, occasionally, the question of values and the survival of cultures. The literature has centred on the development of the ‘Third World’, and for the most part has been constructed in the ‘First World’—in Paris, New York, San Francisco, London and so on (Anderson and Bowman 1966; Alavi and Shanin 1982).

In the work of the international agencies, such as UNESCO, the International Institute of Educational Planning and the World Bank, the classical question addressed was how to vitalise Adam Smith’s factors of production (land, labour and capital) to produce economic growth (Simmons 1980). For scholars in universities an important theme in this analysis was how education—notably formal schooling—might contribute to these processes of economic growth, not least by the formation of a skilled labour force. Thus much of the work dealt with upper secondary and first cycle higher education, especially the improvement of provision in applied science, technology and technical services. At the level of the lower secondary school, a major question addressed was the balance of general and vocational education and how to break the dichotomy between academic and vocational education so strongly embedded in the colonial models of education introduced into parts of the ‘Third World’, by Britain and France in particular (Altbach, Arnove and Kelly 1982).

The question was framed by a distinction in the world economy: countries such as the United States, Britain, Germany, France and so on had been economically successful. Other countries, in Africa, in Latin America, in Asia were ‘underdeveloped’. There were, apparently, clear reasons for this—corruption, political instability, rigid social structures and values (Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and even Catholicism as in Southern Europe) which were inappropriate. Economic growth would follow if these ‘variables’ were

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