ERIC Number: EJ947290
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Reference Count: 27
The Living and the Dead in Education: Commentary on Julian Williams
Jones, Peter E.
Mind, Culture, and Activity, v18 n4 p365-373 2011
Jean Lave and Ray McDermott (2002) did a service with their powerful reading of Marx's 1844 essay on "Estranged Labour" (Marx, 1964). In reworking Marx's critique of "alienated labour" in terms of "alienated learning," they reminded everyone of Marx's own impassioned revolt against the inhumanity of the capitalist order and found a novel way of illuminating Marx's standpoint through an exploration of formal schooling. Julian Williams (this issue), responding to Lave and McDermott's initiative, offers a subtle and sensitive discussion of the problems and contradictions in formal education generally, and maths education in particular, in relation to capitalist society. Although Lave and McDermott emphasised the striking congruences between what passes for "work" and what passes for "education" in a society built on alienated labour, Williams attempts to throw further light on "alienated learning" by tracing the inner connections between school activity and capitalist production, seeing formal education in terms of its role in the production of labour power as a commodity. The two publications complement one another and should stimulate further discussion about the relevance of Marx's work to the educational sphere as well as to other forms of activity. Their work also connects to more general discussions of the import of Marx's notion of alienation in such classic texts as Ollman (1976) and Meszaros (1978). At the same time, their work echoes the theme of the necessity for radical transformation of educational practice and educational institutions as part of a general programme of socioeconomic and political transformation (Freire, 1969). The distinctive feature of Williams's approach, like that of Lave and McDermott, lies in explicit application of Marx's philosophical and economic work to an analysis of the connection between institutionalized education and the kind of society that creates it and is educated by it. In this article, the author follows their lead with some reflections on the significance of the issues they raise and their implications for current debates within CHAT.
Descriptors: Labor, Alienation, Political Attitudes, World Views, Social Systems, Schools, Educational Practices, Educational Change, Role of Education, Social Change
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A