ERIC Number: EJ1056297
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Apr
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
The Meritocratic Conception of Educational Equality: Ideal Theory Run Amuck
Howe, Kenneth R.
Educational Theory, v65 n2 p183-201 Apr 2015
The dominant conception of educational equality in the United States is meritocratic: an individual's chances of educational achievements should track only (natural) talent and effort, not social class or other morally irrelevant factors. The meritocratic conception must presuppose that natural talent and effort can be isolated from social class--and environmental factors in general--if it is to provide guidance in the world of educational policy and practice. In this article Kenneth R. Howe challenges that presupposition and related elements of the meritocratic conception having to do with the role of competition and education as a "positional" good. Howe argues that, in use, the meritocratic conception unavoidably distributes education based on "developed" talent and motivation that cannot be isolated from the effects of social class, thus masking the real basis of the distribution and contributing to the perpetuation of illicit group privilege. Howe then entertains and rejects several rejoinders to his critique, including that the meritocratic conception might eliminate the presupposition of isolatable natural talent. Finally, Howe sketches an alternative conception of educational equality based on Elizabeth Anderson's adaptation of Rawls's "democratic equality."
Descriptors: Equal Education, Academic Achievement, Talent, Student Motivation, Social Class, Environmental Influences, Educational Policy, Educational Practices, Role, Competition, Criticism, Educational Attitudes, Democratic Values, Educational Philosophy, Educational Theories
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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