Mini Research project 1
Title: Implication of Theoriest john dewey and stuart hall in the present context of Nepal through the Marxist way of analyzing the society.
This project is aimed to study the Marxist way of analyzing the society informed theoriest of john dewey and staurt hall. Marxist theories are developed useful for framing issues related to leftist strategy in twenty-first century in nepal. whether he displays a sense of ‘class consciousness’; the viability of tactical and strategic alliances between the left and groups linked to the capitalist structure; and whether socialism is to be achieved. The concept is compatible with the ‘process of change’ in Nepal, in which autonomous movements play a fundamental role in transforming the construction of new state structures. John dewey is a pragamatist educationist. Acording to dewey,the public school system should be regarded as the chief means social betterment. School is a miniature society. The aim of social efficiency utilization rather than subordination of capacities of individual. Education takes place by participation.
Hall’s work has been profoundly influenced by Karl marx and Marxism. Marxism is closely linked to struggles of less-developed countries like Nepal. Hall was thus profoundly influenced by so-called Third World Marxist movements of the later twentieth century, though he would not remain locked into their criticism. Hall’s Marxism is a “Marxism without guarantees.” It does not assume an all determining economic “base,” nor that all history can be explained through a linear, progressive Marxist trajectory.
Marxism, or Marxist theory, is based on ideas formulated by Marx and Engels as a critique of industrial capitalism. It focuses attention on social history in relation to political economy, especially class struggle. From a Marxist perspective, history is not driven by ideas, values, or some overarching spirit. Rather, it is a record of struggle, rooted in material existence, for food, shelter, products of labor, and control over the means of production. Marx’s ideas disseminated in part through various interpretations of and elaborations on Marxism have had a tremendous impact on twentieth-century politics as well as on critical theory, literary theory, cultural studies, history, sociology, economics, the arts, philosophy, religion, and education. We can conceive of Marxist theory in at least two ways. First, it is a revolutionary critique of capitalist society. Marx was personally concerned with the need for social change. He saw as the injustice and oppression caused by nineteenth-century industrial capitalism and the economic relations it engendered. His analysis of how industrial capitalism operated and how it caused oppression was directed at changing this system and thereby ending the human suffering it produced. Second, and more important for our purposes, Marxist theory is a way to analyze not only economic relations but also those values and viewpoints created by industrial capitalism that affect ostensibly nonpolitical endeavors such as education, religion, literature, and other cultural products and practices. Marxist theory underscores the ideological nature of all human enterprises. It is only with the development of a socialist mode of production that class distinctions and conflicts end. Historical change can occur only within the context of dialectical conflicts between classes. Contradictions between those in control and those controlled inevitably lead to class conflict. It is the dialectic of class confrontation that engenders a new society. The ultimate goal is a socialist, classless state. In a capitalist mode of production, the relations of production are such that workers labor to turn raw materials into finished goods, and owners control the sale and distribution of these products, collecting their surplus value. Such a system, says Marx, inevitably results in the creation of class distinctions in which the proletariat workers who sell their labor power for a wage in order to make a living enables the capitalists who own and control the means of production (that is, the natural resources, factories, machines, and other material resources) to recover profits at the expense of the workers. A third class, the bourgeoisie, are neither owners nor workers but service providers such as teachers and doctors. Although they provide services to both the other classes, they are usually identified as having the same class characteristics as capitalists. For Marx, economic organization that is, modes of production shape other aspects of society. The concepts of base and superstructure explain this relationship. “Base” refers to a society’s economic mode of production, which determines its superstructure that is, its political, social, religious, artistic, moral, scientific, and other cultural productions. From this perspective, education is not an independent or autonomous mode of human activity but is conditioned and determined by a society’s mode of production and the relations of production it engenders. This is a materialist theory of education, viewing it as part of a society’s superstructure. The economic base is supported by a superstructure that justifies the base and seeks to naturalize class differences as an overarching reality that people have no possibility of changing. Such a system is understood by Marxism as fundamentally exploitative and changeable only through the dialectical struggle between classes. Struggle occurs because the inequities and contradictions of an unequal system become evident over time. Marxism forecasts that the dialectical struggle will eventually destroy capitalism and establish a class-free socialism in its place. This event will mark the end of history, in the sense that further economic change will no longer occur because the unequal class relations that fueled the dialectical struggle will have ceased to exist .Marxism draws attention to processes of alienation, especially through the stratification of society into different social classes, where the upper classes have privileged access to the goods produced by the lower classes. Alienation a result of unequal class relations caused by a consciousness that distorts social and material reality, functioning to keep people in their place within the capitalist system. This distortion prevents people from viewing relations of production as they really are. Therefore, ideology is an aspect of superstructure: it is produced by the economic base and functions to legitimate that base. Ideologies determine what can be thought and believed about politics, education, literature, and other aspects of culture. But ideologies are not autonomous; they depend, said Marx, on the prevailing economic mode of production and serve as a justification for its continued existence. For example, Marxist scholars of education argue that schools provide key support for the popular ideology of “meritocracy,” the notion that one has earned one’s place in a capitalist society through individual effort (Bowles and Gintis, 1976). Even though family income at birth is the single best predictor of life chances, schools claim to sort young people fairly by ability and effort. In doing so, they reinforce the notion that one has earned his or her place in society. Schooling in capitalist America is, ultimately, about reproducing the capitalist class system, making it seem fair and “natural.” Schools reproduce and naturalize class divisions in several different ways. Jean Anyon (1980), for example, traced how schools serving young people at different ends of the class spectrum used the same basic curricula in radically different ways. The school that served working-class youth, she showed, stressed mechanical approaches to problem solving. Following clear rules in a step-by-step, rote fashion was emphasized. Teachers did not make real connections to underlying thought processes nor to authentic problem solving. Work was fragmented across different subjects. It is perhaps not surprising that students saw the teacher’s authority as capricious and arbitrary.
In The School and Society Dewey pointed out how haphazardly the existing school organization had grown up. It was composed of oddly assorted and poorly fitting parts, fashioned in different centuries and designed to serve different needs and even conflicting social interests.The crown of the system, the university, had come down from medieval times and was originally intended to cater to the aristocracy and train an elite for such professions as law, theology and medicine. The high school dated from the nineteenth century when it was instituted to care for the demands from commerce and industry for better-trained personnel. The grammar school was inherited from the eighteenth century when it was felt that boys ought to have the minimum ability to read, write and calculate before being turned out to shift for themselves. The kindergarten was a later addition arising from the breakup of the family and the home by the industrial revolution.A variety of specialized institutions had sprung up alongside this official hierarchy of education. The normal or teachers’ training school produced the teachers demanded by the expansion of public education in the nineteenth century. The trade and technical school turned out skilled craftsmen needed for industry and construction.Thus the various parts of our educational system ranged from institutions of feudal formation like the university to such offshoots of industrial capitalism as the trade school. But no single consistent principle or purpose of organization unified the whole.
Dewey sought to supply that unifying pattern by applying the principles and practices of democracy, as he interpreted them, consistently throughout the educational system. First, the schools would be freely available to all from kindergarten to college. Second, the children would themselves carry on the educational process, aided and guided by the teacher. Third, they would be trained to behave cooperatively, sharing with and caring for one another. Then these creative, well-adjusted equalitarians would make over American society in their own image.
In this way the opposition between the old education and the new conditions of life would be overcome. The progressive influences radiating from the schools would stimulate and fortify the building of a democratic order of free and equal citizens.
The new school system envisaged by Dewey was to take over the functions and compensate for the losses sustained by the crumbling of the old institutions clustered around the farm economy, the family, the church and the small town. “The school,” he wrote, “must be made into a social center capable of participating in the daily life of the community . . . and make up in part to the child for the decay of dogmatic and fixed methods of social discipline and for the loss of reverence and the influence of authority.” Children were to get from the public school whatever was missing in their lives elsewhere that was essential for their balanced development as members of a democratic country.
He therefore urged that manual training, science, nature-study, art and similar subjects be given precedence over reading, writing and arithmetic (the traditional three R’s) in the primary curriculum. The problems raised by the exercise of the child’s motor powers in constructive work would lead naturally, he said, into learning the more abstract, intellectual branches of knowledge.
Although Dewey asserted that activities involving the energetic side of the child’s nature should take first place in primary education, he objected to early specialized training or technical segregation in the public schools which was dictated, not by the individual needs or personal preferences of the growing youth, but by external interests.
The question of how soon vocational training should begin had been under debate in educational circles since the days of Benjamin Franklin. The immigrants, working and middle classes regarded education, not as an adornment or a passport to aristocratic culture, but as indispensable equipment to earn a better living and rise in the social scale. They especially valued those subjects which were conducive to success in business. During the nineteenth century private business colleges were set up in the cities to teach the mathematics, bookkeeping, stenography and knowledge of English required for business offices. Mechanics institutes were established to provide skilled manpower for industry.
These demands of capitalist enterprise invaded the school system and posed the question of how soon children were to be segregated to become suitable recruits for the merchant princes and captains of industry. One of the early nineteenth century promoters of free public education, Horace Mann, appealed both to the self-interest of the people and to the cupidity of the industrialists for support of his cause on the ground that elementary education alone could properly prepare the youth for work in the field, shop or office and would increase the value of labor. “Education has a market value; that it is so far an article of merchandise, that it can be turned to pecuniary account; it may be minted, and will yield a larger amount of statutable coin than common bullion,” he said.
Education should give every child the chance to grow up spontaneously, harmoniously and all-sidedly. “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 such 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.’ “Such a definition did not please those who looked upon themselves as preordained to the command posts of the social system.
Dewey extended this approach from pre-school age to primary and secondary schooling. Each grade ought to be child-centered, not externally oriented, he taught. “The actual interests of the child must be discovered if the significance and worth of his life is to be taken into account and full development achieved. Each subject must fulfill present needs of growing children . . . The business of education is not, for the presumable usefulness of his future, to rob the child of the intrinsic joy of childhood involved in living each single day,” he insisted.
Children must not be treated as miniature adults or merely as means for ministering to adult needs, now or later. They had their own rights. Childhood was as much a period of consummation and of enjoyment of life on its own terms as it was a prelude to later life. The first should not be sacrificed to the second on penalty of wronging the child, robbing him of his just due and twisting his personality development.
Socially desirable qualities could not be brought forth in the child by pouring a ready made curriculum into a passive vessel. They could be most easily and fully developed by guiding the normal motor activities, irrepressible inquisitiveness and outgoing energies of the child along the lines of their greatest interest.
Interest, not outside pressure, mobilizes the maximum effort in acquiring knowledge as well as in performing work. The authoritarian teacher, the cut-and-dried curriculum, the uniform procession from one grade to the next and the traditional fixed seats and desks laid out in rows within the isolated and self-contained classroom were all impediments to enlightened education. Whenever the occasion warranted, children should be permitted to go outdoors and enter the everyday life of their community instead of being shut up in a classroom “where each pupil sits at a screwed down desk and studies the same part of some lesson from the same textbook at the same time.” The child could freely realize his capacities only in an unobstructed environment.
The child learns best through direct personal experience. In the primary stage of education these experiences should revolve around games and occupations analogous to the activities through which mankind satisfies its basic material needs for food, clothing, shelter and protection. The city child is far removed from the processes of production: food comes from the store in cans and packages, clothing is made in distant factories, water comes from the faucet.
The school has to give children, not only an insight into the social importance of such activities, but above all the opportunities to practice them in play form. This leads naturally into the problem or “project method” which has come to be identified with the essence of the progressive procedure.
Children soak up knowledge and retain it for use when they are spontaneously induced to look into matters of compelling interest to themselves. They progress fastest in learning, not through being mechanically drilled in prefabricated material, but by doing work, experimenting with things, changing them in purposive ways.
Occasionally children need to be alone and on their own. But in the main they will learn more by doing things together. By choosing what their group would like to do, planning their work, helping one another do it, trying out various ways and means of performing the tasks, involved and discovering what will forward the project, comparing and appraising the results, the youngsters would best develop their latent powers, their skill, understanding, self-reliance and cooperative habits.
The questions and answers arising from such joint enterprises would expand the child’s horizon by linking his immediate activities with the larger life of the community. Small children of six or seven who take up weaving, for example, can be stimulated to inquire into the cultivation of cotton, its processes of manufacture, the history of spinning devices. Such lines of inquiry emerging from their own interests and occupations would open windows upon the past, introduce them naturally to history, geography, science and invention, and establish vivid connections between what they are doing in school and the basic activities of human existence.
Participation in meaningful projects, learning by doing, encouraging problems and solving them, not only facilitates the acquisition and retention of knowledge but fosters the right character traits: unselfishness, helpfulness, critical intelligence, individual initiative, etc. Learning is more than assimilating; it is the development of habits which enable the growing person to deal effectively and most intelligently with his environment. And where that environment is in rapid flux, as in modern society, the elasticity which promotes readjustment to what is new is the most necessary of habits.
Dewey aimed to integrate the school with society, and the processes of learning with the actual problems of life, by a thoroughgoing application of the principles and practices of democracy. The school system would be open to all on a completely free and equal basis without any restrictions or segregation on account of color, race, creed, national origin, sex or social status. Group activity under self-direction and self-government would make the classroom a miniature republic where equality and consideration for all would prevail.
This type of education would have the most beneficial social consequences. It would tend to erase unjust distinctions and prejudices. It would equip children with the qualities and capacities required to cope with the problems of a fast-changing world. It would produce alert, balanced, critical-minded individuals who would continue to grow in intellectual and moral stature after graduation.
The following are the implication of the dewey’s theory in the context of Nepal
1. The conduct of the pupils shall be governed by themselves, according to the social needs of the community.
2. Interest shall be the motive for all work.
3. Teachers will inspire a desire for knowledge, and will serve as guides in the investigations undertaken, rather than as task-masters.
4. Scientific study of each pupil’s development, physical, mental, social and spiritual, is absolutely essential to the intelligent direction of his development.
5. Greater attention is paid to the child’s physical needs, with greater use of the out-of-doors.
6. Cooperation between school and home will fill all needs of the child’s development such as music, dancing, play and other extra-curricular activities.
7. All progressive schools will look upon their work as of the laboratory type, giving freely to the sum of educational knowledge the results of their experiments in child culture..
Dewey’s progressive ideas in education have had a curious career. Yet this supremacy in the domain of educational theory has not been matched by an equivalent reconstruction of the educational system. Dewey’s ideas have inspired many modifications in the traditional curriculum, in the techniques of instruction, in the pattern of school construction. But they have not changed the basis or the essential characteristics of the school system, and certainly not the class stratification of nepali education system.
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