ERIC Number: ED388373
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Nov
Education Is a Gift, Not a Commodity.
A popular image today is that students are "consumers" and teachers are "producers" and "sellers" of education. Many in academia claim that economic metaphors distort and corrupt the true nature of education and they offer a variety of alternative images of the relationships between teachers and students: traveler/guide, worker/boss, artistic co-creators, etc. Educators seem to resist the new wave of economic imagery as a result of fear and the belief that reconceiving education as a fundamental economic exchange is a misunderstanding of education. But the changes in education toward an economic model have been occurring for some time. Grading, for example, was an invention in the early industrial period that linked competition for employment and status to education. The role of grading highlights two forms of power in education: empowerment, or the acquisition of abilities to ascertain and accomplish one's goals, and authority, either in the "natural authority" of a knowledgeable person or authority based on power over another person. Grades are related to the "power-over" aspect of authority. However, their presence and the presence of other "power-over" relationships reduce education by leading to the undervaluing of empowerment. Education is an exchange, but one that should be thought of more in terms of giving a gift than buying and selling. True teachers remain parts of the beings of students, and students continuously give new life and light to teachers. The gifting metaphor demonstrates an alternative economic image of education that focuses on dynamics, the uncertainties, and most importantly, the relationships of selves involved in teaching and learning. Contains nine endnotes. (TGI)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the National Conference of the Community Colleges Humanities Association (Washington, DC, November 9-11, 1995).