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The Spectre of Permanent Schooling


by David C. Williams, Robert A. Levine & Robert A. Levine - 1974

Amid the incantations that permanent schooling is the new way to a better future, and Presidential cajoling that career education is the path to "genuine reform in the way we teach," we should direct our attention to the image of the world these "reforms" demand and the alternatives at hand.

Dr. David C. Williams is lecturer in urban education at the Black Education Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus; and superintendent of the Ohio Correction Academy, Chillicothe.


The European originated concept of education permanente, and its related American form, career education, have received negligible critical review this side of the Atlantic. These emerging movements are rooted in overworn patterns of political expediency, economic drift, and compulsory schooling, and, like their predecessors, generally fail to grasp the full impact of technological change on humane interaction and the subsequent need for change in educational planning and practice. Although the stated goals of these trends are the acquisition of compounding knowledge, equality of educational and employment opportunity, and the resolution of school conflicts, they provide no genuine alternatives to ongoing patterns of repression, racism, and poverty. The particular emphasis of career education on the work ethic can account for its popularity in the higher circles of business and government, and in part explain its successful funding record. The failure of educators to study and confront this movement further restricts the potential for effecting more humane changes in the educative process.


The enthusiasm with which political and educational leaders have begun to embrace the concept of permanent education and its American counterpart, career education, is reason enough to suspect the motivations toward lifelong schooling. The multitude of fads, gimmicks, and real innovations in education, particularly in North America, have seldom stirred either the imaginations or the rhetoric of politicians, who have usually preferred to vie for bits of center-stage on such quasi-educational issues as busing, campus revolts, open admissions, and property taxation. Educational bureaucrats in their turn have deferred thorough consideration of the struggle between education for involvement in a free, just, and ennobling environment on one hand, and schooling for service to corporate and military demands on the other. Instead, they have usually invested their professional vitality as stewards for the funding cauldron and gatekeepers to middle-class subsistence. It is rare to find politics and education so openly aligned. Amid the incantations that permanent schooling is the new way to a better future, and Presidential cajoling that career education is the path to "genuine reform in the way we teach,"1 we should direct our attention to the image of the world these "reforms" demand and the alternatives at hand.

THE RISE OF PERMANENT SCHOOLING


What is permanent schooling? Some have observed that the concept is closely related to the "lifelong learning" trend in the free adult education movement of previous decades. Its evolving jargon now places it sometimes under a banner of "continual education." But it is the recent linking of this idea with compulsory schooling that gives cause for alarm.2 Both proponents and detractors agree that education permanente has very little to do with traditional methods of schooling, but what is meant by traditional is far from obvious. Even stalwart defenders of American schooling now signal the demise of time-honored techniques and, in some cases, philosophies. Educational technology (hardware, software, and telemedia) and centralized decision-making are the one-two punches moving modern educative societies out of the realm of multiple teachers, classrooms, and buildings with their bloated and lackluster curriculum and administrative controversies. Permanent education, typically viewed as the process of permanent schooling, is becoming the fiat in technologized societies by which newly acquired methods of social and political control are to be made operant.


This process may be easily understood through what Ellul described as "the principal law of our age: . . . everything which is technique is necessarily used as soon as it is available, without distinction of good or evil."3 Fred Inglis' assessment that "there is something manic about this relentless euphoria, this mad planner's zeal" in the permanent education movement and Dennis Sullivan's characterization of its "alchemist dreams" underscore near total absence of consideration of sociopolitical encroachments in the learning process.4 In today's continuing education, there seems to be little thought given to whether its services are becoming or should become compulsory. Once the impetus for compulsion emerges, as we have witnessed in the case of elementary and secondary education, we seem to fail not only in reviewing its origins but also in critically evaluating the effects of its extension. The aridity of such thinking in educational circles has had the singular effect of blocking conception of the possibility that more education may be achieved through less schooling.


The political and economic effects of schooling on a legally captive population, regardless of method, have suffered a paucity and obliquity of study from which recovery has been frightfully slow and for which educational planning and practice have been taxed in frustration and aimlessness. The mystique of "objective inquiry," indeed, the values which permit many to believe that inquiry into any social process can be value-free, has all but negated the personal opportunities for educators to relate the political and social nuances among us to the process of schooling. Both liberal or progressive and conservative educators, and even some romantic critics of schooling, tend to deemphasize the insidiousness of the relationship between schooling and contemporary corporate demands for labor and allegiance. Such neglect has effected a tolerance of the social and environmental excesses of entrenched institutional arrangements. These arrangements, of course, have permitted pollution in all its varied forms, lingering discrimination on the basis of sex, imperialism in the world market as well as on the battlefield, and racism from south Chicago to South Africa.5 Even the "counter-culture" has retreated from the search for a noncorrosive social fabric and a system of work and leisure that requires neither legal nor military repression or the other stifling residues of technological culture. Most proponents of career and permanent education generally concede that a rethinking of educational policy as a whole is required to eliminate or minimize such weaknesses,6 but there is a striking absence of evidence of where and how this rethinking is taking place, and how it is going to induce even reform.


There are a few permanent educationists who readily admit that this "new education . . . will reinforce the established social order, rightly or wrongly, controlling and manipulating the destiny of whole populations."7 Such possibilities as a shift to Glasser's "role-oriented society" or "identity society" from the "goal-directed functions" which now characterize much human interaction8 will not roll in on the wheels of inevitability. Permanent education and career education seem more likely to be the conceptual vanguards of renovating the traditional control functions of schools in abetting corporate-state goals.

CAREER EDUCATION'S IMPACT


The emergence of permanent education from former theories of lifelong schooling is matched by career education's conceptual exodus from the vocational education movement. As in the case of career education, permanent educationists regard their "revolution in education" as requiring "special cooperation between the worlds of work and education."9 These movements are best studied in tandem because, as many futurists insist, individuals will soon be abandoning one vocation for another many times during a lifetime, and some constant pedagogical mode may officially prescribe and direct such transitions. Career education began as a federally-directed, essentially school-based approach to vocational training and guidance for all students. There are recent indications, however, that home-based, employer-based, and community-based models are receiving more attention and funding. Advocates are not reticent in describing career education as "total" education, and as in the case of permanent educationists' unreflective tribute to technological advance, this quasi-gestalt approach is regarded as encouraging merely because it may overcome whatever were the limitations of industrial arts and vocational education. The leadership of the movement has stated uncategorically that career education is to make career awareness and training "an integral part of the instructional process in every school year, from kindergarten through graduate school."10


This seems very much attuned to the permanent educationists' behavioristic visions of education as a "complex cybernetic system, based on a 'response-sensitive' situation" comprised of a network of Skinnerian elements.11 There are indications, however, that the school-based approach is not faring so well with Washington policy-makers,12 and massive termination characterizes life at Ohio State's Center for Vocational and Technical Education, "home" of this approach. Within this realm, there is certainly due cause for alarm at the add-on, patch-up approach of the myriad career education packages, kits, and testing systems which, like packaged "alternative school" models, pander to the panic of school systems in crisis.13 But the zeal of those guided by this approach does not appear to be weakening, even though a bulky research memorandum from Stanford's Educational Policy Research Center sought to impress upon career educationists the fact that new forms of education alone do not offset entrenched social patterns.14


Traditionally, vocational education has confronted the awesome task of preparing students for the continuous occupations by which adults produce the services and commodities vital to the worker's support, if not to that of all society. This task has been complicated by the demand for both a subprofessional class and some vocational specialization in our technological economy and by sundry forms of social discrimination in schools and industry. The seemingly inevitable dichotomization of "general education" and "trade education" attracted the wrath of those concerned with nondemocratic tendencies within the process of schooling. Many are apprehensive about the spread of a career education program based on the existing West German model, arbeitsamt, which is directed at nearly all the children of the working class. Dewey was alarmed, for example, by the potential of "industrial education" for extending class and racial divisions in and out of school:


Instead of trying to split schools into two kinds, one of a trade type for children whom it is assumed are to be employees and one of a liberal type for the children of the well-to-do, it will aim at a reorganization of existing schools as will give all pupils a genuine respect for useful work, an ability to render service, and a contempt for social parasites, whether they are called tramps or leaders of "society."15


At first glance, the stated goals of career education appear consistent with this desire and stop considerably short of the fascist imperative that human activity is meaningful and legitimate only to the extent that the goals of the state are served. Consider this criterion from the associate commissioner of education:


The fundamental concept of career education is that all education experiences, curriculum instruction, and counseling must be geared to preparation for economic independence, personal fulfillment, and appreciation for the dignity of work.16


The recurrence of the popularized and distortive Puritan sense of work and the behaviorist achievement orientation in the career education paradigm explain its popularity with the Nixon administration, particularly to those students of its current motivations in welfare "reform" and sizeable budget cuts for social service agencies. But more importantly, the crusaders for this revived theme are trapped by their neglect of the vagaries of our complex economic system, as well as of the relationship between automation and mandatory worker displacement. This brings to mind another of Dewey's cautions:


Any scheme for vocational education which takes its point of departure from the industrial regime that now exists, is likely to assume and perpetuate its divisions and weaknesses, and thus to become an instrument in accomplishing the feudal dogma of social predestination.17


We are moving toward a time when we will liberate more people to do what machinery cannot and we will no longer force people to do what machines can do better. We are overdue now for Margaret Mead's recognition that "the price of preserving our affluence will be giving up the insistence of an industrializing society that in order to share in a society's wealth, one must do productive work."18 The "new thinking" among educators contains remarkably sparse designs for generating interactive experiences among learners founded on their perceptions of their needs and their aspirations. Most educational thought is still in the service of political authority and is thus ideologically rooted in antiquated and brutal social philosophies. To expand the method for training one segment of society, or the world, in moral and economic mythology is no less than an obdurately callous effort to defer the freedom of other segments from physical neglect and psychic abuse. There is more at stake here than putting new wine in old bottles; the grapes are poisoned. This is another instance of blaming the victim: Rather than judging the process of monopoly capital or defective schooling, blame is placed on the learner or, in this case, the career aspirant. I can think of no better analogy than that offered by George Dennison regarding his student, Jose, with a "reading problem":


A reading problem, in short, is not a fact of life, but a fact of school administration. It does not describe Jose, but describes the action performed by the school, i.e., the action of ignoring everything about Jose except his response to printed letters. 19


At this point it is best to distinguish between what is meant by "education" and what is meant by "training," not to imply that vocational education is "getting uppity" and should know its place, or that it is not involved in the free exchange of knowledge and skills, but to examine the leap of the vocational movement into a much more inclusive realm. As some vocational educators observed earlier in this century, the idea of career "includes not only the idea of vocation successfully pursued, but its consequences on social position, prestige, opportunities for leisure, etc."20 Since patterns of discrimination, particularly in the interrelated areas of housing, schooling, and employment, have been generally sustained for several decades, despite the legal and moral suasion of the 1960s, the additional factors implicit in "career" must be addressed in a fashion that the career education movement appears loath to confront. It is not surprising that, noting career education's receipt of nearly $150 million in discretionary funds, one may suspect that the implementation of this concept "may be used as a weapon of oppression against the community of nonwhites in this country, trapping them into an occupational fiefdom of servitude to a privileged professional class."21


Training is the method by which individuals are prepared to replicate and crystallize change for which society has indicated a readiness; education serves the principal purpose of pushing society toward change for which it may not be ready. It erects the conceptual groundwork for deciding whether changes are necessary and wise, and then whether and how such changes can be realized. No knowledgeable educator would suggest that these are exclusive arrangements, that there is no overlap, or that some duplication of effort may not facilitate and strengthen the aims of both education and training. But rather than eliminating the vexatious duality in schooling that virtually everyone officially opposes, career education and permanent schooling concepts erect a new dualism and escalate arbitrary controls through the amalgamation and centralization of educative endeavors and the "benign neglect" of certain realities in social, political, and economic affairs.22


An analysis of the social perspectives of the claims made by adherents to career education reveals the relationship between new concepts and current socio-economic conditions. These claims are (1) that lifelong schooling and career education will assist a necessarily ever-intensified production process in the provision of the adaptions mandated by the growth of knowledge, particularly in scientific and technical fields; (2) that permanent and career education foster equality of opportunity and help the individual meet the demands of increasingly complex life styles and vocational aspirations; and (3) that career education and its kindred forms will alleviate the myriad perplexities and conflicts in the classroom.

THE "DEMANDS" OF GROWTH


The ancients attributed many of the misfortunes which they could not comprehend to the motives of the gods they created, in much the same way as the witches burned by the Puritans often spent their final moments at the stake trying to discover how they had offended God. In more recent times, we have concocted a neodeistic system to which we attribute the source of our most aggravating social maladies. This is not so much the result of any religious fervor as it is the product of a romantically-inspired obliquity. Unemployment, school failure, and the like are credited to an unwieldy System that somehow demands misfortune as tribute.


We are then to no small degree the captives of ever-evolving scapegoats and catch-alls. We tend to accept uncritically the idea that poor methods of schooling alone cause future unemployment and eventual poverty, that efforts can and should be made to improve such methods, particularly in areas impacted with chronic poverty, and that it is most vital that this be done because of the amazing expansion of knowledge which we must all assimilate. We are then re-markedly susceptible to former Secretary Marland's awe-inspiring statistics that America has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, which he suggests is because too many youths lack "salable skills" in the face of the "relentless advance of technology." We become easy prey to the unmitigated flamboyancy of his assertion that "2.5 million young people who leave high school and college each year (are) without a real career goal, much less the preparation to reach it."23 We approach total gullibility when confronted by the amorphous "information explosion" and ominous warnings that the acceleration of change and other sociopolitical complexities can be checked only by the advent of state-controlled education permanente.24


This resignation to the supposed imperatives of change has, ironically, exposed the flaw in this type of thinking. Those things which we have come to regard as "problems" within the System are really solutions to the problems which this System would have if current "problems" were not perpetuated, and in some cases, protracted.25 Although it continues to be true, it is no longer sufficient to note that those who demonstrate a close association between school enrollment ratios at all levels of education and per capita GNP, and those who have cited high positive correlation between low levels of schooling and high levels of unemployment26 are merely reporting politically induced, self-fulfilling prophesies. The additional reality is the declining productive space within technological economies for the present number of workers, let alone for aspirants to the labor force. It is a cruel illusion that there is anything like a planned economy. If there is a plan, it is that it is unplanned. But there is no evidence that planning per se will introduce humanity into economic affairs. "Career shortage," if we may call it that, is not so much the by-product of technological development but of a very informal system of economic organization which, as Kolko has observed, not only tolerates but assists "the sharply unequal distribution of income and wealth."27 The very definition of "full employment" in official circles includes a provision for marginal joblessness, and Donovan has articulated the consequences:


When a public policy whose goal is full employment comes to accept the four percent unemployment rate, the social results may prove to be monstrous, especially for the millions of individuals of which the innocuous-sounding "four percent" is comprised ... we achieved the technical goal of "full employment" in 1966 when the rate of unemployment dipped below the four percent figure. At the same time, the rate among Negro youths was close to twenty-five percent—precisely at the moment white America thought the nation had finally achieved full employment. Is it any wonder that our moral sense becomes dulled?28


The almost pathological consistency with which we lie to ourselves about the real numbers of unemployed severely obviates our ability to diagnose and treat this "problem." But the more encompassing problem that educators, among others, are woefully reticent to confront is the fact that educational planning based on an obsolete economic ethic ignores the reality of disappearing career chances. As Greer has discovered, this phenomenon is most evident in already "developed" nations:


The unemployed are a minor proportion of the citizenry at present, but there is no assurance this will remain true. By Adam Smith's definition, less than half the labor force is now employed in "productive" work, and some economists believe that in two decades it will be more like 15 percent. The accumulated labor force, meanwhile, is accelerating . . . The society faces more than a temporary problem: as one in which the right to economic citizenship is affirmed it must generate millions of roles to confer that citizenship.29


As in the cases of so many of our other national maladies, changing national leadership has neither confronted nor denied this phenomenon. There is only the pretense that it does not exist.


The challenge here to educators is twofold. Should we continue to become engrossed in schemes which merely obey the dictates of accelerated but unplanned economic growth? Is our confused docility in the midst of abusiveness and degradation compounded in this process a decent professional response? It has become daily more obvious that denying basic human and civil rights on the basis of narrowly defined productive involvement is a morally dubious practice. It is also an approach that no longer conforms to the needs of a society on the threshold of a future that can sustain the caprices of outmoded economic practices and assumptions no more than it can endure violent forms of egomania among the political leaders of nuclear nations. To fail to adjust to these newer realities is to consign education to little more than the role of managing schools for the inculcation of retarded ethics and inevitable cruelty. School "failure," like economic nonparticipation, becomes an excuse for withholding dignity from life and furthering the polarization of society, either through forced labor or forced welfare. This contrived failure is the ultimate product of educational planning which aims at the development of that which the economy does not need and will not tolerate. This is only one among the many hazards of career education's goal of "every individual in contemporary society (with) skills, knowledges, and understandings essential for his maximizing his potentialities as a producer of goods or a Tenderer of services."30

CAREER EDUCATION AND EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY

 

A second objective of the career and permanent educationists is to devise an educative system to provide students with access to equality of opportunity and with the fortitude to assimilate divergent life styles and career possibilities. Promoting the equality and tolerance of differences has been, of course, the stated goals of education in almost all modern states for several decades. Most often efforts in this direction have centered on the "deficit view" of certain students, requiring compensatory programs to upgrade their testable cognitive performances, or they have focused on the negative characteristics of teachers, resources, and schools, but not necessarily on schooling itself. Both views and whatever programmatic stimuli they provide have in nearly all cases been disappointingly shallow.31 Equality of opportunity, whether in education or career choice, must involve a deescalation of the movement toward advanced meritocratic controls in all sectors of human interaction.


But educational movements are plagued by a propensity for viewing themselves as if in a vacuum. The most thoughtful criticisms of Ivan Illich and related deschoolers have not been centered on their analyses of schools, but on their alleged neglect of whether the educational goals they seek require concomitant political and social revolutions, and how this is to be accomplished. We can never neglect John Holt's transformation:


. . . truly good education in a bad society is a contradiction in terms . . . in a society that is absurd, unworkable, wasteful, destructive, secretive, coercive, monopolistic, and generally antihuman, we could never have education, no matter what kind of schools the powers that be might permit, because it is not the educators of the schools but the whole society and the quality of life in it that really educate. . . .32


Most observers suggest that the enterprise of education will persist in its ideological dependence on the political units which define its scope in every nation. Educational experience in a society, schooled or deschooled, is inordinately directed by the political tendencies manifested in that society. The degree of attractiveness of any educational movement, career and permanent education included, to dominant political forces is inextricably bound to the broader social goals and philosophies of those forces.


Thus whatever intraeducational contingencies (curriculum revision, teacher preparation, etc.) are debated by most educational reformers are ultimately peripheral. Those who seek to understand career education's successful funding record in a period of relative belt-tightening in other areas of government-supported health, education, and welfare programs would do well to ponder the Nixon administration's infatuation with the "work ethic." It is not surprising that in an extensive review of the literature of career education, Nash and Agne found little criticism or caution, but much "thinly disguised politics" supporting the work ethic and a "corporate social order."33 The few criticisms which have emerged have all but ignored the political, economic, and social presuppositions of career educationists. Rogers, for example, noted that vocational schools were usually dumping grounds for minority students, that dropout rates there were high, and that job training there was ineffective.34 But he went on to rely on faith that career education would provide a unifying theory to ameliorate these conditions.


The legendary work "ethic" is rampant with contradictions and malignancy. First, it is religiously bankrupt and historically inaccurate. A leading Calvinist scholar, John McNeill, pointed out more than a generation ago that "the now popular notion that Calvin held the prosperity of believers to be proof of their election is a perversion of Weber and an inversion of Calvin."35 The tragic applications of this bias (for it should not be mystified by the appellation of "ethic") throughout our history cannot be avoided. It is hardly realistic to speak of a nation of people who "worked hard and got ahead" when millions were bound in chains throughout the bulk of our history. When Carl Sandburg told us that the steel was made with blood, he wasn't kidding, but we should stop and ask, "Whose blood, and what did they really get for it?" Slavery, racism, sexism, prison conditions, antiunionism, the welfare trap, red-baiting, and the invention of the teenager—all these and more find their source in a malinterpretation of what it means to work. And most of all, we cannot ignore the advice and observations of Margaret Mead, Charles Reich, George Leonard, Theodore Rozsak, and a host of others who have examined the spiritual and economic un-tenability of this "ethic" in a technological society.


The issues of equality of opportunity and tolerance of divergence might best be observed in the light of the President's "record" in these realms. "Record" is used here instead of "statements" because it is doubtful that anyone in a prominent role surrounded by expertise would state opposition to equality and tolerance. Rather than sift through arguments for or against the probability that the President made good on his promise to "bring us together" with Spiro Agnew, continued massacre in Southeast Asia, the "work-fare" plan, economic "controls" and inflation, food and fuel shortages, the politics of heroin, the Watergate and Ellsberg attacks, the revival of capital punishment, the demeaning of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and by graciously "donating" his Vice-Presidential papers to the National Archives, we are best advised to accept the professional and civic consequences of our decisions about these matters. This is not an attempt to establish guilt by association, but to insist that we become stolidly conscious of social cause and effect. This is particularly important as we move into a period of forced retreat from the war on poverty and its extenuating battles. Some planners in career education have readily labeled its curriculum "a socially and politically conservative phenomenon."36 Such a shift has innumerable possibilities. It may, for example, not only tolerate but nurture a new generation of "black bourgeoisie" and resignedly fatigued white progressives. Under the circumstances, we should not ask whether, but how soon career education will "maintain discrimination through the tracking of minority students" and "develop a pool of skilled labor for industry."37

THE PERPLEXITIES OF SCHOOLING


The previous goals of career and permanent education indicate a faith that a third may be achieved by prescribed methods within each movement. That goal is that the intense ills of schooling can be rectified by more, and more thorough, schooling. Although some proponents warn against approaching career education as a panacea, this caveat has not prevented others from suggesting it as an antidote to, among other things, the dropout rate, excessive numbers of college students, high unemployment, vandalism, absenteeism, violence, and taxpayer revolts.38 This has many politically expeditious effects, not the least of which is an appeal to the infatuation of educators with the simplistic maxim that "schools are microcosms of society." It is an almost fanatical ethnocentrism that encourages the assumption that educators possess a permanent leadership role in social change, particularly in the face of indications that it is compounding changes elsewhere in society which generate the impetus for educational reform.


But there are more fundamental issues involved. Consider the near neglect of overwhelming differences between schooling and education. One very often takes place in and even compels the absence of the other. Perhaps the most essential concern is whether the occurrences in schools commonly labeled as "conflicts" or "controversies" or "problems" are really manipulated "solutions." If our schools did not provide the arena for deciding that most urbanized poor children are "incorrigible," "hard-to-reach," and "disadvantaged" or "culturally deprived," and if the elaborate imposition of ghettos did not convince many of us that the parents of these children have sinned against whatever god it is who keeps a hand on the pulse of the Gross National Product, how else would we meet the immense challenge of imposing some artificial process of social selection and detention on the humanity passing, through schoolhouse doors? How else could we maintain such idols as the sociological trinity: the rich, the poor, and the middle-class? If career education proffered real non-un-employability, how could it ever fit with an economy based only on efficiency, profitable production, maximum control of both resource supply and consumer demand, and seemingly infinite hierarchical growth in every feasible direction?


Of course, modern economy, like the class system, is probably in no danger because no one, oppressed and oppressor alike, seems to have a very accurate idea about how or why these rancid institutional forms continue to thrive. A kind of determinism lulls critics, victims, and exploiters alike. Those who shared Martin Luther King and Frantz Fanon's faith that "humanity is waiting for something other than blind imitation of the past"39 are either getting fewer and farther between or are still the captives of the past. To overcome this, it is not enough to observe that schools make children stupid. We must begin to perceive the purpose for generating stupidity and the confluent processes evolved for its perpetuation. For those in power, stupidity is a political asset and, as Don Bateman has noted, schooling is hardly a politically neutral affair:


. . . it takes place in an institution, designed and operated by those in power, to serve those who will come into power, to teach each child to accept his pre-assigned place: male or female, white or black, rich or poor, employed or un-employed . . . This distribution of humanity into the marketplace is accomplished through tracking: grade levels and grading to show where and why you stand where you do in respect to the standards established by the test-makers, why you are in the upper, middle, or lower track and thus college-bound, labor-bound, or unemployed bound; and. to guarantee that this path to one's predestined place in the economy takes place smoothly and is acceptable to all, each child must internalize the cultural values that account for the necessity of his assignment. It is the purpose of the curriculum to accomplish this latter task.40


The genesis of career education curricula has only formalized these arrangements. It has permitted the cultural values which the elite desire to surface in the classroom. With career education, the "hidden curriculum" is no longer hidden.

THE ALTERNATIVES


We should hesitate to refer even cautiously to career and permanent education as plagues, but they are afflictions that we have nearly all brought upon our houses. There has been a belated discovery that diseases in education are not likely to be alleviated by massive grafting of malignant tissue. The tenacity with which the poor and the persecuted have been treated as deviants, the programmatic arrangements born out of the bigoted deficiency syndrome, and the excessive rip-offs of honorariums, consultant fees, and government grants from the Great Society funding trough were bound eventually to extract a toll. This was assured when there began to appear to be an axiomatic relationship between middle-class educators becoming rich educators and the declining growth toward egalitarian fulfillment of the American Dream. A production-oriented society may be slow in dumping those who fail to produce, but, the Peter Principle and Parkinson's Law notwithstanding, it will eventually terminate arrangements with those who flaunt their nonproductivity. It will ultimately seek out a new batch of wizards. Alternatives are limited. They are limited to what we can do with what we have learned. As Illich has observed, it has been too easy to attack the schools.41 They have been society's vulnerable but indefatigable whipping boy. In the zeal of insistence that schools fail, we ignored the dialectics of their success. I believe that Arthur Pearl best illustrates for whom they have been successful:


For a society that generates artificial privileges and distributes authority and wealth unjustly. Our society is a warehouse for certain people so ordered that they can be in a certain place at a certain time; it is set up in such a way as to maintain present race, class, sex, and ethnic biases—to teach us to be able to fit in the shape that the society of privilege demands. Technological societies such as ours are monolithic and efficient. They possess power techniques that can force you to be in certain places at certain times.42


We as critics have been drawn up in the middle in a splendid Pickett's charge, and our flanks are weakening. To a degree, this weakness has been induced by a quixotic search for purity in educational forms which, like the movements to Don Juan's mescaline and Maharaj Ji's bliss, has left the arena open to the least scrupulous. But there has been one hard-earned lesson: Education is more than a caricature of the production model inspired by the miscegenation of the process of learning with the process of paying tribute to monopoly capital. We know now that learning is not to be treated as just another consumer good. If knowledge is to be power, and if education must continue as a business, then we have discovered another energy industry in need of genuine regulation. And from this we find that educational alternatives must adopt a larger scope, requiring both an acknowledgement of the dynamic interconnectedness of education with political and economic controls, and the admission to ourselves that change in one societal realm is unlikely to hold up in the absence of changes within others. Our future work then is multifaceted, mandating us to act not only as professional educators, but also as activists determined, by choice, to rejuvenate a nation's social conscience and political dignity. And that may be necessary just to maintain a hold on the ground we now occupy, even in holding actions to support schools as they now are as ultimate refuges in which we may find at least some free exchange and growth of ideas some of the time.





1 Richard M. Nixon, quoted by Sidney P. Marland, Jr., "Career Education Now," speech delivered at the Convention of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Houston, Texas, January 23, 1971.

2 David G. Gueulette, "Is There Schooling After Death?" paper presented at the Conference on Illich/Freire, The Consortium for Higher Education Religious Studies, School of Theology, Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, December 2, 1972; Herman H. Frese, "Permanent Education—Dream or Nightmare?" Education and Culture, Summer 1972, pp. 9-13. The implications of "lifelong learning" are thoroughly explored in John Ohliger and Colleen McCarthy. Lifelong Learning or Lifelong Schooling?: A Tentative View of the Ideas of Ivan Illich with a Quotational Bibliography. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Publications in Continuing Education and ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Education, 1971; also see John Ohliger and Joel Rosenberg. Compulsory Adult Education, a preliminary bibliography. Columbus: Ohio State University, January 2, 1973. Reprints are available from the authors.

3 Jacques Ellul. The Technological Society, trans. John Wilkinson. New York: Random House, 1964, p. 99.

4 Fred Inglis, "Reflections on the Revolution in Education," University Quarterly, Spring 1973, p. 237; Dennis Sullivan, "Discussion Paper Prepared for the Conference on the Impact of Permanent Education on the Concept of Schooling and Curriculum Innovation," Hamburg, Germany, December 4-8, 1972. (Published by the Center for Intercultural Documentation, Cuernavaca, Mexico, Document # 72/382.)

5 See, for example, Jonathan Kozol, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: Racism and the Counter-Culture," Ramparts, December 1972, pp. 30-32, 58; G. William Domhoff. The Higher Circles: The Governing Class in America. New York: Random House, 1969; Francis Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward. Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare. New York: Pantheon, 1971. Martin Carnoy, ed. Schooling in a Corporate Society. New York: David McKay, 1972; and Karen Orren. Corporate Power and Social Change. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974.

6 Byrl R. Shoemaker, "Career Education: A Chance for Change," American Vocational Journal, Vol. 47, No. 3, March 1972, pp. 27-31; A.S.M. Heley, "UNESCO and the Concept of 'Education Permanente,' " Indian Journal of Adult Education, Vol. 28, No. 2, December 1967, pp. 7-12, 15.

7 H. H. Frese. Permanent Education in the Netherlands. Strasbourg, France: Council of Europe, n.d., p. 23; also see H. H. Frese, "Permanent Education, A Strategy of Social Action," in H. H. Frese. Permanent Education: A Compendium of Studies Commissioned by the Council for Cultural Co-operation. Strasbourg, France: Council of Europe, 1970, pp. 455-481.

8 William Glasser. The Identity Society. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.

9 J. Chenevier, "La Revolution de L'education Permanente," Convergence, Vol. 3, No. 4, 1970, pp. 56-59.

10 Charles J. Law, Jr., "Career Education Works!" Educational Leadership, Vol. 30, No. 3, December 1972, p. 225; Mary-Margaret Scobey, "Coping in a Technological Culture," Educational Leadership, op. cit., p. 229; Peter P. Muirhead, "Career Education: The First Steps Show Promise," Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 54, No. 6, February 1973, p. 370. This integration process is detailed by Brian Fitch, "Awareness and Widgets: Career Education as Part of the Curriculum and Instruction Process," presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, April 17, 1974.

11 International Commission on the Development of Education. Learning to Be: The World of Education Today and Tomorrow. Paris: UNESCO, 1972, p. 117. This kind of process, which attempts to bend the learner to education (just as it attempts to bend education to political caprice), is poignantly examined by Francis J. Di Vesta, "Cognitive Structures and Symbolic Processes," Teachers College Record, Vol. 75, No. 3, February 1974, pp. 357-370.

12 James Welch, "Career Education: A Re-examination," Educational Researcher, Vol. 2, No. 2, February 1973, p. 13. As NIE funds dwindled, the school based model was left with only $3 million for research and development in the past fiscal year.

13 See, for example, the packages offered by the University City School District in Missouri and the New Mexico Career Education Test Series. It is interesting to note that the report of the Kettering Foundation's National Commission on the Reform of Secondary Education. The Reform of Secondary Education. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973, contained detailed recommendations for incorporating both career education and alternative education into secondary school environments.

14 David C. MacMichael. Career Education—Prognosis for a Policy. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Research Institute, Educational Policy Research Center, December 1971.

15 John Dewey, "A Policy of Industrial Education," The New Republic, December 19, 1914, pp. 11-12, quoted in Arthur G. Wirth, "John Dewey's Philosophical Opposition to Smith-Hughes Type Vocational Education," Education Theory, Vol. 22, No. 1, Winter 1972, pp. 69-77.

16 Robert M. Worthington, "Why Career Education?' School Shop, Vol. 31, No. 7, March 1972, p. 38. This sentence also appears in Kenneth B. Hoyt, ed., et al. Career Education: What It Is and How to Do It. Salt Lake City, Ut.: Olympus Publishing, 1972, p. 2.

17 John Dewey. Democracy and Education. New York: Macmillan, 1916, p. 372.

18 Margaret Mead, "The Challenge of Automation to Education for Human Values," in William C. Brickman and Stanley Lehrer, eds. Automation, Education, and Human Values. New York: Crowell, 1969, p. 68.

19 George Dennison. The Lives of Children. New York: Random House, 1969, p. 82.

20 David Snedden. Vocational Education. New York: Macmillan, 1920, p. 399.

21 Sally Spitzer, "Career Education: A New Name for an Old Game," Education Policy Information Center Bulletin. New York: The National Urban League, Vol. 1, No. 1, Summer 1972, p. 2.

22 Worthington, op. cit., p. 38, insists that career education requires the restructuring of basic school subjects around the theme of career development; Goldhammer propounds a "fusion" of "academicism" and "a new style of vocationalism." See Keith Goldhammer, "A Careers Curriculum," in Keith Goldhammer and Robert E. Taylor, eds. Career Education: Prospec-tives and Promise. Columbus, O.: Charles Merrill, 1972, p. 124.

23 Sidney P. Marland, Jr., "The School's Role in Career Development," Educational Leadership, Vol. 30, No. 3, December 1971, p. 203. This assertion is repeated in Marland's, "Career Education: Off the Drawing Board," School Review, Vol. 82, No. 1, November 1973, p. 58. Also see Sidney P. Marland, Jr., "Career Education: More Than a Name," address to the annual meeting of the State Directors of Vocational Education, Washington, D.C., May 4, 1971.

24 Paul Lengrand. An Introduction to Lifelong Education. Paris: UNESCO, 1970; Paul Lengrand, "Three Examples of the Application of the Concept of Education Permanente," Convergence, Vol. 1, No. 4, 1968; Torsten Husen, "Lifelong Learning in the 'Educative Society’" International Review of Applied Psychology, Vol. 17, No. 2, 1969; Henri Janne, "Future Policy for Education," Education and Culture, Summer 1972, pp. 14-19.

25 A much more thorough dialectical analysis of this factor is most skillfully presented by Frank Trippett, "The Shape of Things as They Really Are," Intellectual Digest, December 1972, pp. 25-28.

26 Frederick Harbison and Charles A. Myers. Education, Manpower, and Economic Growth: Strategies of Human Resource Development. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963; John K. Galbraith. The New Industrial State. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967, pp. 239-240.

27 Gabriel Kolko. Wealth and Power in America: An Analysis of Social Class and Income Distribution. New York: Praeger, 1962, p. 132; also see Robert L. Allen. Black Awakening in Capitalist America: An Analytic History. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1969, p. 115.

28 John C. Donovan. The Politics of Poverty. New York: Pegasus Books, 1967, p. 117; also see Bertram Gross and Stanley Moses, "Measuring the Real Work Force: 25 Million Unemployed," Social Policy, Vol. 3, No. 3, September/October 1972, pp. 5-10.

29 Scott Greer. The Urbane View: Life and Politics in Metropolitan America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972, p. 304.

30 Goldhammer, op. cit., p. 128.

31 Frederick Mosteller and Daniel P. Moynihan, "A Pathbreaking Report: Further Studies of the Coleman Report," in Frederick Mosteller and Daniel P. Moynihan, eds. On Equality of Educational Opportunity. New York: Random House, 1972, pp. 54-58. Kenneth B. Clark. Dark Ghetto. New York: Harper & Row, 1965; Christopher Jencks et. al. Inequality: A Reassessment of the Effect of Family and Schooling in America. New York: Basic Books, 1972, pp. 7-8.

32 John Holt, New Schools Exchange Newsletter, No. 60, Santa Barbara, Calif., n.d. See Adam Curie's related conclusion in his "Review of Learning to Be," Comparative Education Review, October 1973, pp. 418-420.

33 Robert J. Nash and Russell M. Agne, "Career Education: Earning a Living or Living a Life?" Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 54, No. 6, February 1973, pp. 373-378. These authors provide a more extended argument in their "Careers, Education, and Work in the Corporate State," School Review, Vol. 82, No. 1, November 1973, pp. 67-78.

34 David Rogers, "Vocational and Career Education: A Critique and Some New Directions," Teachers College Record, Vol. 74, No. 4, May 1973, pp. 471-511.

35 John T. McNeill. The History and Character of Calvinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1954, p. 222.

36 Bruce Reinhart, "The Nature and Characteristics of the Emerging Career Education Curriculum," presentation to the National Conference on Career Education for Deans of Colleges of Education, Columbus, Ohio, April 24-26, 1972.

37 Lawrence Davenport and Reginald Petty, "An Overview of Minorities and Career Education," in Lawrence Davenport and Reginald Petty, eds. Minorities and Career Education. Columbus, O.: ECCA Publications, 1973, p. 15.

38 Gordon I. Swanson, "Career Education: Barriers to Implementation," American Vocational Journal" Vol. 47, No. 3, March 1972, pp. 81-82; also Worthington, op. cit. p. 37.

39 Martin Luther King, Jr. Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 66.

40 Donald R. Bateman, "The Politics of Curriculum," paper presented at the Conference on Curriculum Theory, The University of Rochester, New York, May 3-5, 1973, p. 9.

41 Ivan Illich, "After Deschooling, What?' Social Policy, Vol. 2, No. 3, September/October 1971, p. 9.

42 Arthur Pearl, in discussion in Of Education and Human Community: A Symposium of Leaders in Experimental Education, a report of the Study Commission on Undergraduate Education and the Education of Teachers, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1972, pp. 145-146.



Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 76 Number 1, 1974, p. 47-62
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 1369, Date Accessed: 10/26/2021 4:02:54 AM

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  • David Williams
    The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
    Dr. David C. Williams is lecturer in urban education at the Black Education Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus; and superintendent of the Ohio Correction Academy, Chillicothe.
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