Images of Educational Change

By Herbert Altrichter; John Elliott | Go to book overview

3
Developing under developing
circumstances: the personal and social
development of students and the process
of schooling

JOHN SCHOSTAK

The key educational issue is how to get people to go off the rails. If a formal curriculum is imagined as being like a chariot race where competitors go round and round in circles until some arbitrary finishing point is reached, then deliberate crashes, derailings or simply stopping and not playing the game become the only real challenges to the system. In this chapter I explore a paradoxical view of education which is founded upon not playing the game; or, at least, playing it by rules other than those officially sanctioned and hence derailing the players.

Regarding schools, colleges and universities as construction sites is a precondition for doing this. They look finished, solid, as if we all know what they are for and what goes on there. However, schools are merely specific material sites where many different kinds of things occur. There has long been a distinction between overt, official forms of curricula and the hidden curricula (e. g. Jackson 1968) where children are divided into pro-school and antischool factions (Hargreaves 1967; Lacey 1971), where working-class children learn to fulfil the expectations of teachers as to whether they are clever or not (Rosenthal and Jacobsen 1968), or learn to adopt working-class expectations and attitudes and careers (Willis 1977), learn how to resist authorities ritually (Hall and Jefferson 1975) and act within schools maladjusted to their needs and interests (Schostak 1983); where they generate a violent imagination appropriate to surviving in and accommodating to society's demands (Schostak 1986) and to learning the social narratives required to be an active - whether compliant or creative – member of a social group (Schostak 1991).

Somewhere within this complex of competing processes and orientations

-37-

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