Education Cuts Seem to be Inevitable

It seems to be on the cards that there will be cutbacks in education as Ireland struggles to put together a four year budget plan to grapple with the financial debt crisis.I like to talk about learning rather than politics or economy in these posts but it seems that cuts will have to be made – indeed are being made – and these cuts will effect all our learning futures and therefore warrant consideration. As an educator I believe that, after the basic needs such as safety, health and sustenance are met, the primary task of any nation is the provision of education. Education is the means whereby culture and societal practices are developed and reproduced. Once we fail to educate then we fail as a society.Furthermore, as John Dewey pointed out, the provision of open and accessible education is essential for the proper functioning of democracy. When we suppress education we undermine the process of developing new thinking, critical awareness, communicative discourse and creativity. However, I do not believe cutbacks in education can be avoided; particularly if spending on health and social welfare are also going to be curtailed. So here are three ideas where money can be saved Read More …

The Meaning of Work – Aronowitz on Schooling in a Time of Crisis

On Tuesday I had the good fortune to attend a seminar (in NUIM) by Stanley Aronowitz – he is Professor of Sociology at City University in New York and has written extensively on many topics to do with knowledge, education and economy. His ideas are radical and challenging and yet timely. He presented his analysis of this “first truly global crisis” based on his experience (in the US steel industry) and many years as an author and teacher. Aronowitz posed critical questions that challenged our conception of labour in developed economies. He pointed to the structural changes in industry evident since the seventies when high numbers of workers were employed in big industries such as steel production. Faced with the challenge of a militant, frequently striking (US!) workforce and a troublesome trade union movement, the response by industry was to reduce labour through mechanisation and to move labour by a process of outsourcing and financialisation (build now pay later). Aronowitz sees our current predicament as the inevitable outcome of US economic policy and the globalisation of the industrial model for developed economies. His outlook is gloomy – there will always be a struggle – they will always want more (government Read More …