Summaries nr 4 1998

Summaries nr 4 1998

Summaries

Mikael Palme, 1998: School teacher, school culture and the local community on the Mozambican countryside/Skolläraren, skolkulturen och det lokala samhället på den moçambikiska landsbygden/. Pedagogisk Forskning i Sverige, Vol 3, No 4, pp 241­262. Stockholm ISSN 1401-6788

The article advances the argument that the understanding of primary schooling in Africa must comprise a sociological approach that addresses social, cultural and linguistics aspects of teaching and learning, in contrast to approaches limited either to macro perspectives or to particularistic ethnographic accounts of everyday life in local schools.

In a first part, results from various classroom-oriented studies carried through in the context of a textbook evaluation in Mozambican primary education are discussed. Classroom interaction in Mozambican primary schools assigns a totally passive role to pupils, which results in almost entirely reproductive and school-oriented learning processes. However, its ritualistic character is functional, since it allows teaching to go on, in spite of the steadily growing discrepancy, from Grade 1 onwards, between pedagogical trans-mission and pupils’ learning. The teaching materials prescribe in detail what teachers should do in the classroom, but imply ideal teaching situations that do not realistically exist, thus leaving teachers without means for understanding the problems they face. Teachers’ mastery of content is limited, as well as their repertoire of teaching techniques. The combination of exaggerated demands in curricula and textbooks, the absence of a functional pedagogical evaluation and the lack of adaptation of teaching to learning result already in Grade 2 in extremely heterogeneous classes that are pedagogically very difficult to cope with.

In a second part, some of the cultural and linguistic factors producing ritualistic teaching are focused upon. The fact that teaching goes on in what is normally a foreign language for the pupils puts heavy constraints on class room interaction and leads to particularly high demands on teaching strategies that create links to pupils’ experiences and mother-tongue-based conceptual systems. However, such strategies are at large absent and no conceptual negotiation occurs in teaching. This is probably a major explanation for the kind of cultural amnesia that takes place in the Mozambican education system, which, in turn, explains why education so radically transforms the individual and imposes a radical break with a social and cultural origin that is henceforth perceived as inferior and backward.

In a third part, the significance of schooling in a matrilineal Makua-speaking rural community in Northern Mozambique is analysed. Formal education was assigned a purely »extractive» value, in the sense discussed by Robert Serpell, and seen only as a means for leaving the peasant condition. As an effect of the heavy inflation in the value of educational diplomas, this project had become increasingly ambiguous. The road to success had become long, costly and uncertain, demanding heavy spending and often non-existent family connections in the city where secondary education was available. Moreover, the individuals submitted to schooling were likely to change, become part of the foreign community of the »akunya», »the white people», independently of their colour of skin, and loose their ties of solidarity with the group of origin.

For boys, such risks could still be acceptable, but not for girls. In the traditional matrilineal peasant society, the young girl and woman are the focal point of social reproduction. Since the most important family ties exist on the side of the woman, the senior woman is the centre of the family network, »the mother of mothers». It is in her household that future generations are brought up and where her brothers and maternal uncles (in particular the clan leader, the elected humu) exert their main influence and assume a considerable part of their responsibilities. In order for this family structure to be reproduced, the young girls pertaining to the family network cannot normally leave their family of origin, neither through marriage nor through formal schooling that potentially leads the individual out of reach of the family network. They represent the perhaps most fundamental asset of this network in so far as they attract new suitors, give birth to new family generations and will be the future centre of the network itself.

In a final part, the social position of the rural primary school teacher is discussed on the basis of ongoing research in Northern Mozambique. The rural primary school teachers occupy an intermediary and ambiguous position between the modern sector and the traditional peasant society, being the last outpost of modern society in what could be described as a pre-modern world. The cultural capital that grants them respect in the rural society as »being educated» represents at the same time a very modest asset in the modern society that confers this same cultural capital. Consequently, the primary teacher is respected in the rural community for having a social power that he in facts does not have. The attention rural teachers pay to speaking a correct Portuguese and dressing in a »civilised» way expresses this intermediary position, in so far as it upholds their distance to the surrounding peasant world and simultaneously reflects a will to comply to standards of civilisation and modernity that the teachers are economically and culturally badly equipped to live up to.

The social mechanisms determining the intermediary position of the rural schoolteacher are important to have in mind when approaching Robert Serpell’s question how the rural school could redefine the »extractive» function of schooling and directly contribute to community life. The normally peaceful relationship between the rural school and the community in which it is inserted is at least in part based on the almost total lack of communication between them. In the peasant society, the school represents in a sense a foreign territory, where the Portuguese language and a presumed scientific world view prevail. Peasants do not have the linguistic and cultural skills to understand what goes on in teaching, and the content of teaching has almost no impact on or user’s value in the peasant society.

Being of rural origin, the rural primary teachers are well aware of the antagonistic relationship between the modern »scientific» world view proclaimed in school teaching, on the one hand, and the animistic world view organising the surrounding peasant society, on the other hand. Deeply rooted in the local society though their origin, marriage and participation in traditional practices, beliefs and rituals, they resolve this antagonism though establishing a difference between »school knowledge» and »out-of-school knowledge», a differentiation that is at heart of the problem Serpell formulates. Teachers are also aware that any attempt to connect school knowledge to areas outside school of importance for the local community would put the peaceful relationship between school and this community at risk, since school then would challenge the socially recognised distribution of knowledge in the peasant society. An example is sexual education that is dealt with by traditionally legitimate institutions and individuals. Such attempts would also be a challenge to teachers and the content of school teaching, since they would have to provide useful knowledge for out-of-school activities.

Mikael Palme, Department of Education, Stockholm Institute of Education, PO Box 34103, SE 100 26 Stockholm, Sweden

 

pp 310-312


Jan Theliander, 1998: Wage-labor, organisation of work, reproduction: Reading Andrew Ure’s Philosophy of manufactures /Lönearbete, arbetsorganisa-tion, reproduktion: En läsning av Andrew Ures Philosophy of manifactures/. Pedagogisk Forskning i Sverige, Vol 3, No 4, pp 264­286. Stockholm ISSN 1401-6788

The views on production and society of English factory-owners during the expansions of the textile industry in the nineteenth century has been examined by using Andrew Ures Philosophy of manufacturers (1835). When manufacturing grew it was in exceeding degree arranged in factories, which meant a need for radical structural changes and new social relationships. Wage-labour became the overall standardised system for employment and productive and reproductive processes went through important changes. The structural relations of these processes is one of the themes in Ure’s Philosophy of manufactures and the present article, which thus deals with how and in what ways Ure described and analysed problems and which standpoints he was emphasising. Qualification, discipline and control as part of a reproductive process referencing both school and education, philanthropy, factories as workplaces and their wider societal influences are all in focus here. The aim is to better understand the transitions of labour and the organisation of work and society. The presumption, here put to test, is that the close connection between reproduction and production are possible to use in such analyses in order to attain this aim.

Important questions are: How did production and the organisation of work change? What was on Ure’s agenda to insure an ultimate factory system development? How were the new work places to be populated? How were the workers to be disciplined? And when factory system finally established: How was it and factory labour reproduced?

Ure’s ideological standpoint was a mix of radical liberalism and conservatism. His view on productivity and private proprietorship was close to Locke and Adam Smith, and when explaining or presupposing differences between people and classes, he had similarities with Herbert Spencer. For Ure the middle classes and especially the factory owners constituted the backbone of contemporary society. In some scientific questions and in religious affairs and its influences, he was extremely conservative.

Ure saw the aristocracy as old-fashioned and the lower classes as people who did not even know their own mind and who were thus to be seen as a risk for production, for themselves and ultimately for the whole country. Nearly every problem discussed by Ure had its solution in the expanding factory system. Humankind had to accept scientific development and the imperative of natural laws as they were interpreted and transferred by him and the factoryowners.

For the under-classes, factory work represented a common way to get necessary means for living. As a group, they were of variable background as no homogeneous working class yet fully existed, something which incidentally represented a problem for the factoryowners, because in spite of high unemployment, there was still at the time a lack of labourers who fitted the factory system requirements. The Poor laws of 1834 implied an improvement regarding the movement of labour, but questions about reproduction, qualification and discipline remained unsolved.

Irrespective of worker competence, Ure showed that factory work was something entirely different from agricultural labour and craftsmanship. He described the factory system by using the steam engine as a metaphor and gave this »mechanic device» a subjective status, an ability to act for it self and a built-in natural law which prescribed for the objectified workers exactly what to do, how and in what order.

The system was dependent on a subordinated collective group of workers acting in accordance with the objective needs of the mechanical system and Ure went as far as suggesting that workmen who were used to doing independent work were ill-fitting components in the factory and that re-education for people beyond the age of puberty would not help. The conditions which directed him to suggest corrective education for the children of the lower classes was his conviction that the younger generation would be able to be influenced to fit the factory system as wage labourers subordinated the new mode of production, ready to work in the mechanical collective way, bound to the machinery, with minimised freedom, provided they could be educated far away from the skilful self-acting workman or agricultural labourer.

In spite of the critics of Parliamentary Commissions, or perhaps because of them and due to his own position, Ure argued for the factories as healthy places with a good working environment. Lower class children lived, in his eyes, better and were better raised within the factories than outside. As a matter of fact, even good moral conditions were built-in. Ure not only described the factory as if it had a soul, this soul was even naturally filled with morals fitting the spirit of the Gospel.

Ure used extensive exemplifications of philanthropic (paternalistic) factoryowners building schools, supporting recreational activities and being concerned about medical care for their employees. He saw philanthropic education as a voluntary alternative to the governmental reforms concerning a public secularised school. These he saw as threatening the factory system by making it impossible for the children to combine factory work with schooling.

Philanthropy held a strong position for the disciplining of the working class and as an instrument controlling their social and cultural reproduction. Ure described it as non governmental with purpose to investigate and control the poor, encouraging diligence and economy. Middle class women were an important part of the growing philanthropic movement, representing a discontinuity relative to old-fashioned charity based on alms. The philanthropy was an international phenomena, founded in the idea of aid to helping oneself, built up by middle class women with their bourgeois family serving as model in the aid directed from bourgeois women to proletarian women.

The movement was fuelled by ideological, humanistic and liberal thoughts, as well as by the fear of proletarian riots and disorder threatening the middle classes growing wealth and their aspiration for greater societal influence. It was political in a strong sense, because of its aspirations for changing some conditions and conserving others. Changing societal conditions tore up traditional ways of living and many people lived outside structural systems for normalisation. The nuclear family was accepted and adopted as base for reproduction complementary to reproduction in the work place and in educational institutions.

Much of the transformative process was conducted by philanthropists on voluntary basis, but gradually in a higher degree as wage work performed by middle class women and increasingly related to governmental institutions and legislative decisions. Ure situated himself as philanthropist and described the factory system as philanthropic and the last and only resort for civilisation. He didn’t support governmental decisions, regulations or laws, and his conservatism would not fit with the bourgeois women’s liberation movement which made up part of the philanthropic movement. However, as long as capitalism and the factory system based reproduction was secured by philanthropic labour reproductive work which made the labour population visible through normative, individualising processes which facilitated capitalist power control, Ure, we may suppose, was satisfied.

In due course, the more humanist and liberal goals of the movement became subordinated to the production mode, and became a part of the societal structures aimed at supporting the capital accumulation process. By examining reproduction system and its changes and transformations we are able to get information related to changes directly concerning labour transformations. New ways to organise production during early factory capitalism realised new forms for reproduction. Capitalism is however doomed to be unstable due to contradictions between productive forces and the production mode, and crises are a frequently emerging facet for realising qualitative changes in production and reproduction which influence work organisations and working conditions.

By focusing on reproduction processes, it might be possible, as in the article example, to better understand the effect of changes. The ideological expressions are here used in a complimentary fashion to track certain standpoints. Ure’s conception of man as determined by technical and scientific development (standing on capitalist side) is still frequently used. I feel it would be fruitful to ask: By whom? For what purposes?

Jan Theliander, Department of Education, Göteborg University, PO Box 300, SE 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden

 

pp 312-315

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