Sunday, 30 December 2012

School Is Dead - Chapter 5

Where schools come from

In this chapter, Reimer presents a historical view on how schools have evolved over time. Starting from prehistoric times (not sure where he got his evidence for this part -seemed pretty speculative) he wanders through time up to the present (1971) day and makes the following point:

Schools proliferate "when traditional value systems were in jeopardy". In these times "schools were seen as a way of preserving a set of values which were losing their dominance."

He points to two examples to support his case:

  1. Alexandrian Greece - when Greece had established colonies around the Mediterranean, schools flourished because the colonists were desperate to maintain their traditional values and sense of "Greekness". "It was insecurity rather than the dominance of the Greek colonies of Alexandrian times which caused them to build and depend upon schools.
  2. The Jesuit Schools - these flourished in Europe under in the Jesuit order in the 16th century. Once again, it is the insecurity of the church at the time that prompted this rapid growth in schools.

Alexander and the Jesuits - an unbeatable combination. Surely if anyone was going to implement a world-wide network of schools, these guys were the ones for the job.

This raises a few questions for me

  • Do we really just build schools to preserve the past? Is there no future focus in education and schools?
  • Is a school that good an investment in times of trouble? When the roman Empire was going down the tube, did the Emperors embark on a massive campaign of free education for all children in the hope that it might keep the barbarians from the gates of Rome?
  • Is this view of "school as a conspiracy to manipulate the population" believable? Are there no other altruists out there who believe that schools can be good things?
  • Schools have also proliferated in the late 20th century. What is the crisis in our value system that is behind this rapid growth?
  • Are there other times in history when schools have grown rapidly that are not accounted for in Reimer's explanation?


Interesting historical perspective - I'm not convinced by the conclusions drawn - must read more myself to clarify this.

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