Monday, March 8, 2010

Ranciere on the Egalitarian Myth of Schools

From On the Shores of Politics:

"It is intended to show further that school creates inequality precisely because it promotes belief in equality; in having the children of the poor believe that all who are there are equal, that pupils are marked, classified and selected only on the basis of the talents and intelligence each has, it compels the children of the poor to acknowledge that if they do not succeed it is because they have no talents and are not intelligent, and it would therefore be better if they went somewhere else. The school thus becomes the theatre of a fundamental symbolic violence which is nothing but the very illusion of equality. In order to convince that success is linked only to the talents of the pupil, the school privileges everything which goes beyond the simple transfer of knowledge, everything which is supposed to call upon a mode of being which is in reality a style of life, a form of acculturation which is not learnt at school -- that of the 'inheritors'. It thus reveals itself as false to its promise and faithful to its hidden essence: the Greek schole, which gave school its name and whose initial meaning is the condition of persons of leisure, who as such are equal and able on account of their social privilege to devote themselves, should they so desire, to study."

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