Education And Schooling Aren’t The Same

Published January 23, 2012 by lionessallison

It is useful to maintain a difference between education and schooling.

Simply, schooling is a process of molding and fashioning minds and behavior according to the interests and beliefs of some particular group.

Education may be defined in terms of its potential to challenge and to suspend all such vested interests, and beliefs.

Education as a central structure and process involved in any kind of liberating dialogue has the potential to provide a means of both conceptualising the contemporary postmodern condition and also of engaging in action in local and global contexts.

Many people use the two terms – education and schooling – interchangeably; others subsume schooling under education. In the latter, education refers basically to the education system (schools, colleges, training centres, universities in public and private sectors) together with other educational forms to be found as in-house education, training and professional development in business and public sector organisations.

Alternatively one can use the terms as a way of pointing out the historical, cultural, political and social processes of transforming people into citizens and members of particular social groupings. This is a form of ‘domesticating’ people, making them ‘fit in’ to what ever the demands of the social group into which they are born and live are. I call this kind of process, schooling. Its function is thus to mould, shape, and fashion the minds, bodies and behaviours of people. It employs a pedagogy of instruction in what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, what are ‘facts’ and what are not, what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’. Emphasis is given to learning information and repeating this information in tests that are marked according to the extent that the repetition is faithful to some original text. Memory therefore is accorded prime place under schooling. One of the earlier meanings of education, in fact was that of ‘child rearing’ and ‘animal taming’. I think education now needs to withdraw from this kind of meaning. Schooling however given its more recent historical associations with controlling, forming and fashioning the minds of behaviours of young people. Here the emphasis is upon the meaning of education is ‘leading’ the individual (as in training any animal) to engage in the teacher’s desired forms of behaviour. Have a look at some of the historical policy statements on what schools should do.

However there is another meaning of education that has to do with ‘drawing out’. The question is, who ‘draws out what’? If it is a teacher drawing out what they believe to be in the best interests of the child, then I still call this a form of schooling. In schooling the locus of power is external to the child/student. It is the adult who defines and imposes. And of course, adults do not just freely define and impose what they believe to be best. Rather, it is those in power who define the policies.

If however the locus of power and agency is with the individual (whether child or adult) then what is drawn out are the interests, potential and creativity of the individual as they reflect upon the world about. The individual, by reflecting upon experience is able to draw out possibilities for courses of action (curricula). This reflection may be carried out in community with others in order to bring about an educative community. Of course, imaginative, creative, innovative possibilities may well challenge the traditional forms of thinking and doing prescribed by the processes of schooling, the culture of a given society and so on. The notions of a spherical earth, and that the earth was not the centre of the universe were in their time ‘herasies’. Education can be dangerous!

Education I say is a good term to describe the antithesis to schooling. Education is the process of exploring alternative ways of thinking, doing, believing, expressing one’s self. It is the process through which one forms one’s own judgement independently of those who set them selves up (or are set up institutionally) to be the judges of others. Education depends on dialogue between people as equals. Schooling depends on there being an authority (teacher, the textbook, guru, leader etc) to authorise what is going to be counted as correct and worthy of some certificate or other symbol of ‘accreditation’. Education is about freedom of thought, judgement and action. Schooling is about following norms of behaviour and thinking that have been legislated by authorities (governments, examination boards, ‘tradition’ etc). I want to make clear that both the processes of schooling and education can occur anywhere, even schools, colleges and universities! We all need ‘information’ as a basis for reflection. This may suggest that schooling is necessary. However, what is very necessary in a world that is complex, uncertain and always changing is education. It is through the educative process that creativity, spontaneity, innovation is ‘educated’, that is ‘drawn out’ as possibilities for realisation and action.

Education is a fundamental process for democracy as schooling is a fundamental process for non democratic forms of political organisation.

Be Schooled and Be Educated………..

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2 comments on “Education And Schooling Aren’t The Same

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