Some Suggestions for Classroom Practice, Based on Marxism
In contemporary societies, we are in many ways being globally misedu- cated. The Bush and Blair administrations’ propaganda war about “weapons of mass destruction”, aimed at masking new imperialist designs and capital’s global quest for imperial hegemony and oil, was a key example.
Conditioning the discourse is only half the story. ‘Education’ has become a key component in the profit-making process itself. Tied to the needs of global, corporate capital, ‘education’ world-wide has been reduced to the creation of a flexible workforce, the openly acknowledged, indeed lauded (by both capitalists and politicians) requirement of today’s global markets. Corporate global capital is in schools, both in the sense of determining the curriculum and exercising burgeoning control of schools as businesses. In the UK, capitalist infiltration of education has been given a major boost by the new Gordon Brown Government.
An alternative vision of education is provided by Peter McLaren. Education should, McLaren argues, following Paulo Freire, put ‘social and political analysis of everyday life at the centre of the curriculum’ (McLaren 2003, p. xxix). Marxists are clear as to their role is in the debate over the future of our planet, and of the way education must be central in working towards a better future. As Madan Sarup (1988, pp. 147-8) argues:
A characteristic of human beings is that they make a distinction between the ‘real’ and the ‘ideal’ ... Human beings have a sense of what is possible in the future and they have the hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Marxists not only have this hope, this orientation towards the future, but they try to understand the world, to develop a critical consciousness of it, and try to develop strategies for changing it. Of course, they realize that progress is uneven, not unilinear; because of the nature of contradiction there are inevitably negative aspects, sad reversals and painful losses. Marxists struggle for a better future for all, but they know that this does not mean that progress is guaranteed or that the processes of the dialectic
will lead to the Perfect......education is closely connected with the notion
of a change of consciousness; gaining a wider, deeper understanding of the world represents a change for the better. And this, in turn, implies some belief in a worthwhile future. Without this presupposition the education of people would be pointless.
Racism should be a key component in education to change consciousness. I would argue that, in order for racism to be understood, and, in order for strategies to be developed to undermine it, there is a need first to promote a thorough antiracist multicultural education, which is cognisant of the manifestations of xeno-racism and xeno-racialization; second to reintroduce the topic of imperialism in schools and other educational establishments; third, Marxists should make the case for the teaching of democratic socialism (which incorporates ecosocialism). I will deal with each in turn.