Education in Modernity: The English Experience

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter begins by discussing three processes characteristic of modernity, within the context of education. These are, respectively: the growth of bureaucratisation as outlined by Max Weber; the emergence of what might be termed ‘codes of disciplinarity’ (Foucault); and the development of what might be termed ‘transactional knowledge’, which Lyotard first discussed back in the 1970s. It will be shown how the state in England actively promoted these three separate processes in schools, progressively undermining the idea of education as an emancipatory endeavour essential for the growth of liberty and democracy. Instead, an instrumental conception of education now widely prevails, enthusiastically propounded by governments of all political persuasions and widely accepted by parents and the broader public (although a cohort of teachers remain sceptical). An alternative conception to the ‘English’ experience based on the idea of an ‘educational practice in its own right’ is presented and its prospects are evaluated. The idea of a ‘practice’ is taken from the works of the British philosopher, Alistair MacIntyre. Although this conception of practice has its attractions (not least because it is avowedly non-instrumental), its prospects remain bleak as long as the state maintains its dominant role, a dominance that is re-enforced by global institutions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFostering Inclusion in Education
Subtitle of host publicationAlternative Approaches to Progressive Educational Practices
EditorsEnrico Postiglione
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-07492-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-07491-2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2022

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