Consuming passions : education - liberal, vocational and technical

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McLaren, John (1989) Consuming passions : education - liberal, vocational and technical. Social Alternatives, 7 (4). pp. 13-15. ISSN 0155-0306


This paper presents some ideas on the education in Australia, expressing the view that a certain degree of confusion marks every level of the debate about education in Australia. Private schools exist as forms of consumption and as means of preparing elite not for a cultivated but for an affluent life. Public schools on the other hand are expected to discipline the masses and train them in the skills which will benefit employers. The attacks by employers' groups on the current Victorian proposal for an Australian Studies course, which encourage students to look at the way work has shaped our society rather than prepare them to accept without question the demands of the contemporary workplace, demonstrate the uneasiness of corporate managers with any attempt to allow students to study matters which might give them power in the society. Similarly, the debate at the tertiary level about useful and theoretical learning, and the attempts to reduce higher education to an instrument of economic policy, conceal a general philistinism which is uneasy with any intellectual curiosity or creative imagination. Rather than empowering citizens to shape their own world, the unholy alliance of plutocrats, bureaucrats and technocrats wants to reduce them to efficient units of production.

Item type Article
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1301 Education Systems
Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Current > Collections > McLaren Papers
Keywords tertiary education, private, public, higher education, Australia, social values, philistinism, public pragmatism, bureaucracy, Mechanics Institutes, humanities, technology, institutional governance, educational courses, MCLAREN-BOXB1-DOC18
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