Friday, December 2, 2011

Governmental Involvement in Education: What Forms of Government is this Actually Appropriate For?

By now it should be fairly clear that education in practice is also indoctrination.  Even if you're not consciously trying, as an educator, you will wind up profoundly influencing the worldview of your students.  This is especially true if you're a member of a class that has a decisive advantage in terms of amount of access time, like, say, public school teachers.

But, back to the original question---for what sorts of government is it actually appropriate for the government to have a role in public education?

Certainly, in the case of a monarchy, theocracy, or dictatorship, it is consistent with the form of government for the government to control public education.
But it is quite obviously incorrect for a democracy to control the education of large numbers of its future electorate.  Controlling education is to a great extent battlespace control---it defines to a great extent the limits of acceptable discourse.  It is obviously inappropriate for a democracy to engage in propaganda about who should win elections.  It can be argued pretty strongly that it is inappropriate for a democracy to EVER tell its electorate what to think, since it is supposed to obey them in the classic 'voice of the people is the voice of God' sense.  I suppose if you had an actual republic, with limited franchise, it'd be acceptable for the State to educate those without possibility of gaining the franchise, but even there it is problematic.  For this reason I advocate the separation of School and State, at least as long as we insist on making the pretense of democracy.


Red said...

I'm pretty sure we're a theocracy.

Jehu said...

I suppose you could call it that if you reified the Cathedral metaphor :-) But for my money a good theocracy should have lots of cool rituals with lots of splendid costumes and pageantry, shouldn't it? And good music, lots of good music...

Hail said...

"the separation of School and State"

Even private schools today are mostly PC, or so I hear. What one needs is "separation of school and Zeitgeist", which is..trickier.

Jehu said...

How PC a private school is varies quite a bit. But I'm personally in favor of homeschooling over private schools and in favor of both over public ones.

Leonard said...

I think you have it backwards -- in democracy the government must control education. If it doesn't, then the masses will be educated into incompatible blocs, and that leads to civil war. If the state fragments, then the successor states will be controlled. If it does not, it will learn its lesson and begin mass propaganda and education.

The same is true of theocracy, except that the government there only has to control the education of the priesthood. Of course, in effect that is all education.

By comparison, a dictator or monarch does not need to control education so long as his regime is secure from democracy. Of course, most modern dictators are not secure from the demos.

Jehu said...

Incompatible blocks is more or less the definition of democracy. In a democracy the population is supposed to tell the government what to think rather than the other way around. Civil war is what you get when one of those blocks decides it can get a better deal through arms than ballots.