Thursday, 7 July 2011
BUSINESS MODEL OF EDUCATION & CAPITALISM
Every societal crisis of major magnitude, especially a global one, invariably gives birth to untapped talent and human creativity of unprecedented levels. This of course assumes that there are no institutional structures precluding the encouragement and reward of creative endeavors. The Great Depression produced some of the greatest art, literature, poetry, philosophy, and every other creative endeavor in part because mass tragedy unlocks creativity, an ancient theory with some merit.
It is also true however, that tragedies like the Great Depression also entailed the rise of militaristic regimes determined to suppress their population, conquer their neighbors, and eliminate millions of innocent people, all in the name of delusional but savage ideologies about superiority of one ethnic group or nation over the other. Perhaps because societal crises of great magnitude bring out the extreme in human nature, society, government, and institutions, we have reason to be both optimistic and guarded about what to expect in the near future amid the unfolding mini-depression.
Societal crises allow man to re-examine her/his values and reflect on complacency, hubris, and other human and institutional variables that lead to catastrophe. A percentage of people in the US and throughout the world, once they go through the stages of self-pity, anger, and a range of emotions, will be re-examining their hedonistic consumerist values rooted in self-indulgence and the institutions that reinforce such western materialistic values.
Some may be skeptical and others rebellious toward government leaders and private institutions responsible for the mini-depression. People will demand better government, more honest and practical leaders, private institutions operating under rigid mechanisms of accountability, and an educational system that does not have as its model the very system that is currently bankrupt and every few decades undergoing a crisis that shatters human lives.
One specific area of re-examination that merits attention is the ‘business model’ for education from k-through graduate school. Should curriculum and research programs be linked, related and designed to benefit the business community and preserve the culture of capitalism? If the goal of education is to broaden the individual’s mind along with unlocking her/his creative proclivities that will inevitably benefit both the individual and society then does the ‘business model’ serve the individual and broader society, or does it only serve the narrow interests of the capitalist system wishing to preserve a social order based on inequality?
Other than perpetuating capitalism on a world scale, what is the value of such models currently sold to the rest of the world as innovative? Because business people invariably control the boards of educational institutions and because those on such boards are blind worshippers of the ‘business model’ and they equate education with business, schools since the Reagan era have been scrambling to appease the business community which has its own narrow definition of ‘success’.
While I am not suggesting that businessmen lack any creative proclivities, I am categorically stating that the business model precludes creativity outside its narrow perimeters and that is a disservice to the student who learns conditioning to advertise, market, sell, and promote a business model value system. The mini-depression allows for the opportunity of institutional change in the US and other countries where the business econometric model is spreading.
The business sector can do what it does with its cyclical crises and bailout plans, but schools have a responsibility to students and society that goes beyond return on capital using the deranged Social Darwinist philosophy. A few education leaders will readjust their narrowly-focused ‘business value system’ during this mini-depression, but change will come very slowly with visionary leadership from all areas and above all with a massive grass roots movement that has an anthropocentric (human-based) rather than pluto-centric (capital-centered) world-view.