Glenn Rikowski

Glenn RikowskiGlenn Rikowski is a Senior Lecturer in Education Studies and was Acting Head of Education Studies (2005-06) in the School of Education at the University of Northampton. Glenn Rikowski is author of The Battle in Seattle: its significance for education, 2001 and Silence on the Wolves: What is Absent in New Labour's Five Year Strategy for Education, 2005. He has also edited a number of books with others, including: Marxism Against Postmoderism in Educational Theory, 2002; Postmodernism in Educational Theory: education and the politics of human resistance, 1999; Red Chalk, 2001

Web sites and blogs

You can find out more about Glenn Rikowski's work at: His web site, The Flow of Ideas, at:

 http://www.flowideas.co.uk

His blog, the Volumizer - which contains a number of short articles on education - at:

http://journals.aol.co.uk/rikowskigr/volumizer  

The Rikowski Newsletter, at:

http://hometown.aol.co.uk/rikowskigr/myhomepage/newsletter.html

Glenn Rikowski: Uninspiring Towers: Higher Education Futures in theUK

Glenn Rikowski: Uninspiring Towers: Higher Education Futures in theUK

Introduction

The UK Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) is currently undertaking a ‘review of higher education in 2008 in advance of the review of the operation of variable tuition fees’ that will take place in 2009 (UUK, 2008, p.2). This article explores a report (Brown et al, 2008) written for the Universities UK’s (UUK) submission to the DIUS review. The report is part of the UUK’s ‘Size and Shape of Higher Education’ project. According to Turner (2008), the report ‘underlines the extent to which higher education could be transformed by the web’. Furthermore, noted Turner, due to the rise of mass higher education systems in China and India, higher education institutions (HEIs) in the UK could lose out in the lucrative international students market. Slowness or failure to adapt by UK universities could result in merger or closure. In addition, says Turner, the report by Brown et al (2008) indicated that some failing institutions might be taken over by the private sector.

Glenn Rikowski: Outsourcing Public Services – with special reference to education

Glenn Rikowski: Outsourcing Public Services – with special reference to education

“But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh, Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood”
(The Animals, Don’t let me be Misunderstood, 1965; first recorded by Nina Simone in 1954, and written by Bennie Benjamin, Gloria Caldwell and Sol Marcus)

Introduction

Perhaps John Hutton, UK Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR), had the above refrain in mind when he launched a review into the ‘public service industry’ last December. When Hutton appointed ex-CIA employee and former member of the UK Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, Dr DeAnne Julius, to head his review into the public services industry he may have hoped that the British public might not conclude that he was in favour of the delivery of more public services by private sector operators and ‘third force’ charitable organisations. On the basis of the Julius Report (Julius, 2008), it is clear that Hutton’s is not a ‘soul whose intentions are good’ when it comes to protecting public services from the depredations of capital.

Glenn Rikowski: Utopia and Education

Glenn Rikowski: Utopia and Education

Introduction

‘Utopia’ has Greek and Latin origins: ‘a place that does not exist’. But the usual meaning is ‘a place to be desired’ (Hodgson, 1999, p.4). It sets out a ‘world to come’ that is different and better than this one. Thus, it constitutes an implicit critique; i.e., says what is wrong with the world as we know it.  There is a third meaning of the word: an implausible, impossible situation or scenario. For example, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels talked about forms of “Utopian socialism” – forms that they believed could not exist in capitalist reality.  

Utopia and Education Today

Discussions on the concept of ‘utopia’ typically start with Thomas More’s book of 1516. More’s (1965) Utopia is divided into two Books. Book 1 is constructed as a conversation between More, an adventurer called Raphael Hythlodaye and a real-life civil servant figure, Peter Gilles. The key question the three discuss is whether philosophers should become royal servants. Book 1 pinpoints social injustices in early 16th-century England; it is about society as it was then. Book 2 is about society as it might be; envisioning an idyllic island that is very different from the England of More’s day. Hythlodaye tells about the island of Utopia, ‘Nowhereland’, somewhere in the Atlantic off the coast of America, where people lived in a radically different, and more desirable, form of society.

Glenn Rikowski: Globalisation and Education Revisited

Glenn Rikowski: Globalisation and Education Revisited

Introduction

In 2002, I wrote a paper for the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs that was involved in an ‘Inquiry into the Global Economy’ (Rikowski, 2002a). At the time, I was a member of the UK GATS Network. The GATS is the General Agreement on Trade in Services, an agreement between the members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to liberalise services, including educational services (see Rikowski 2001, 2002b-c, and 2003b for more on this) [1]. Through the UK GATS Network, specifically through Chris Keane who headed the group, I was alerted to the possibility of writing a paper on Globalisation and Education for this ‘Inquiry into the Global Economy’. I wrote the paper holding little hope that it would be read, let alone accepted by the Inquiry team. Although written in a formal style it did not yield much in terms of its anti-capitalist perspective. Perhaps it caused some of their Lordships to splutter on their prawn cocktails! The paper built on earlier work (Rikowski, 1996; and 2001) but also took my analyses of globalisation and education several steps forward. Here, I will expand on some of the points in the paper where I developed my own thinking.

Glenn Rikowski: Nihilism and the De-valuation of Education Values in England Today

Glenn Rikowski: Nihilism and the De-valuation of Education Values in England Today

Nihilism

“Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy” (Pratt, 2001, p.1).

The Death of God

For Friedrich Nietzsche, the ‘death of God’ was an awesome event as our values are no longer guaranteed. Where once they were objective, sanctioned by the highest of powers, without God our values become mere human. They become decadent, either as veils for self-interest, or means for establishing hierarchies or domination. Byrnes (2008) notes, quoting Dostoevsky, that: “Without God, everything is permitted” (p.33). Thus, our efforts to construct secular value systems without invoking the Almighty fail to provide the ‘objective’ values we seem to hanker after. Nietzsche’s solution was to re-value the old values, but without having God as bottom line security. This attempt failed. Similarly, Byrnes indicates that all our projects for reconstituting values on a secular foundation have also proved inadequate. Notions of ‘human rights’, ‘natural rights’ or the happiness principle all resolve themselves into lone thinkers, institutions, governments, or supra-national organisations attempting to impose tablets of values as objective human-centred values. For Byrnes:

“We have forgotten … that this objective morality did not exist separately from God; He was its source. No act was wrong in itself, it was wrong because God said so. Buried within the mulch of generations of practice, assumption, agnosticism and unchallenged belief are the real roots of our deep-seated notions of right and wrong, of freedom, liberty and natural rights” (2008, p.33).

Glenn Rikowski: Education Incorporated: New Labour, the Knowledge Economy and Education

Glenn RikowskiGlenn Rikowski: Education Incorporated: New Labour, the Knowledge Economy and Education

The Knowledge Economy

Since coming to power in 1997, New Labour has flirted with a number of ideologies as foundations for its project in government in general and education policy in particular. These ideologies included the Learning Society, communitarianism, stakeholder capitalism, the Third Way and the knowledge economy. It was this last perspective on economy, society and education – the knowledge economy – that has endured the longest and deepest in New Labour’s ideological firmament. It has also been the perspective amongst those listed above that has had most significance for education policy. It was ten years ago that the concept of ‘knowledge economy’ began to play a prominent role in economic and education policies, with the Our Competitive Future Report (DTI, 1998). There, the knowledge economy (KE) was characterised thus:

“A knowledge driven economy is one in which the generation and the exploitation of knowledge has come to play the predominant part in the creation of wealth. It is not simply about pushing back the frontiers of knowledge; it is also about the more effective use and exploitation of all types of knowledge in all manner of economic activity” (DTI, 1998, para 1.5 – original emphasis).

The most succinct definition comes from TFPL:

“Knowledge economies are emerging in the western world where knowledge, expertise, and innovation are now the primary asset and key competitive advantage” (TFPL, 1999).

TFPL holds that the KE is at an early stage of development, and as Ruth Rikowski notes ‘we are entering into the knowledge revolution or knowledge economy, and this can be seen to be the latest phase of capitalism’ (Rikowski, 2003, p.160).

Glenn Rikowski: Are We Loving It? McDonaldization and Education

Máis preto da empresa...Glenn Rikowski: Are We Loving It? McDonaldization and Education

“Back in the nineties, the author of the McDonaldization Thesis noted that soon the university will adopt many of the managerial models and practices associated with the spread of this hamburger chain [1]. According to the American sociologist George Ritzer, new forms of quality control and consumer orientation would be integrated into the existing structure of the university. My initial reaction to Ritzer’s thesis was that although it was a clever idea, the arrival of McUniversity was far off. Today, when virtually every university brochure, mission statement and web-site is indistinguishable from one another, I am not so sure” (Furedi, 2007, p.7).

McHistory

When George Ritzer’s book The McDonaldization of Society appeared in 1993, the McDonald’s chain of fast food outlets seemed to be on the crest of a wave. With outlets opening in Eastern Europe post-1989 and in China, McDonalds appeared to be on a growth trajectory. Yet only a few years later McDonalds began to suffer a bout of bad publicity. In taking legal action against Helen Steel and Dave Morris (the “McLibel Two”) for producing leaflets focusing on shortcomings in its products, its operations and in its employment practices, the company stirred up heaps of negative publicity [1]. Eric Schlosser’s Fast-Food Nation (2002) and the film, Super Size Me, in which ‘documentary maker Morgan Spurlock wrecked his body by eating McDonald’s for a month’ (Hickman, 2006), cast further doubt over McDonald’s food and image. McDonald’s was also investigated by the Commission for Racial Equality in 2004 when workers at a Manchester site were order to speak English at all times (Tozer, 2004).  Even after a re-branding exercise by McDonald’s UK in 2004, all this negative publicity could not stop sales at British restaurants that had been trading for more than a year falling in 2005, leading to 25 closures (Hickman, 2006). The heat was kept up; for example, Schlosser wrote in The Guardian (2006) how fast food companies were bombarding kids with adverts, seducing them with gifts and toys and then filling them with additives – though Schlosser also throws in Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut into the mix in this article.

Glenn Rikowski: Marketisation of the Schools System in England

Glenn Rikowski: Marketisation of the Schools System in England 

Introduction

The 1988 Education Reform Act in England, which has largely set the scene for school life in England ever since, was an odd mixture of neoliberal and neoconservative elements. Its ‘marketising’ aspects, open enrolment, local management of schools (LMS), per capita funding and league tables (of SATs and GCSE results), alongside greater parental choice, followed the neoliberal path.  Of course, the market in the schools sector in England is in a process of development. This is why the concept of ‘marketisation’ is appropriate, referring to economic, political, social and educational processes whereby the ‘market’ is becoming; that is, it is in a state emergence and development. The precise ways to nurture the market in the schools system on England is what divides the Conservative and New Labour parties. New Labour tries desperately to trim parental choice to questions of equity, at least in its rhetoric; whilst the Conservatives seem to want to let the full force of parental choice rip.

Glenn Rikowski: A Capital-friendly Culture for Further Education in theUK

Glenn Rikowski: A Capital-friendly Culture for Further Education in theUK

Introduction

On April 1st (an appropriate date) 1993, colleges in the further education (FE) sector became ‘incorporated’ educational entities: self-governing organisations free of local education authority (LEA) control. Individual colleges – ranging from general further education colleges servicing the post-compulsory education market, to sixth form, specialist vocational colleges and adult education centres – became responsible for their own management, budget, staff and assets. They had charitable status but were not covered by the Companies Act or company law. At the time, a lot was written and reported in the mainstream and educational press about colleges in the FE sector forging a ‘new culture’. However, only in the last few years have we begun to see some of the logical outgrowths of the kind of ‘culture of change’ UK governments (Conservative and New Labour) had in view for FE colleges.

Glenn Rikowski: Learning to the Max, with Play off the Tracks

Glenn Rikowski: Learning to the Max, with Play off the Tracks

Learning to the Max

The UK’s most expensive school – the Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough – which took £46.4million to build (Bates, 2007) started up in September. With 2,200 pupils, the ‘superschool’ replaced three existing schools in the city. It was designed by Lord Foster – the guy who conjured up the ‘giant gherkin’ tower here in London. However, Thomas Deacon has no playground. There will be no traditional play times, but there will be a 30-minute lunch break, with informal breaks during lesson times, and pupils can drink water in lessons. They can also go to the toilet without putting up their hands, and there will be sporting activities in the afternoons for those who want to stay after 2.30pm when children can leave (Asthana, 2007b, p.3). The school is not unique in having no playground. The Unity Academy in Middlesborough opened in 2002 without a playground; though after some criticisms from inspectors a playground was eventually built (Bates, 2007). Alan McMurdo, the academy’s head teacher, justifies the ‘no playtime’ position thus:

“This is a massive investment of public money and I think what the public want is maximum learning. They recognise that youngsters can play in their own time, play in their local communities” (BBC, 2007, p.1).

Glenn Rikowski: Critical Pedagogy and the Constitution of Capitalist Society

Glenn Rikowski: Critical Pedagogy and the Constitution of Capitalist Society
Glenn Rikowski, Senior Lecturer in Education Studies, School of Education, University of Northampton
A paper prepared for the Migrating University: From Goldsmiths to Gatwick Conference, Panel 2, ‘The Challenge of Critical Pedagogy’, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 14th September

Critical Pedagogy: A Brief Introduction

Critical pedagogy began life in the works, thinking and pedagogic practice of Antonio Gramsci, supplemented with the works of key thinkers from the Frankfurt School, but especially those of Jürgen Habermas. It attained wider recognition in the writings and teachings of Brazilian radical educator and activist Paulo Freire. Specifically, Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972) laid the foundations for what became the American Critical Pedagogy School of the 1970s and onwards. The writings of Ivan Illich and the plays and radical drama theory of Augusto Boal were also importance elements for the development of critical pedagogy during the 1970s. Today, Critical Pedagogy in North America, whilst not mainstream, has spawned doctoral and Masters programmes and a plethora of web sites devoted to it [1].

Glenn Rikowski: Ambassadors of Capital: Business Leaders as Head Teachers

Glenn Rikowski: Ambassadors of Capital: Business Leaders as Head Teachers

Introduction

There is a recruitment crisis for head teachers for schools in England. In the next five years, 37% of head teachers will retire, and deputy heads ‘don’t want to be head teachers’, according to Curtis (2007). Higher pay for head teachers to attract more recruits has been ruled out by the government (Milne, 2007a, p.7). For New Labour, this is viewed as both a problem and an opportunity. A report published earlier this year (DfES & PWC, 2007) saw this situation as where the influence of business values and business folk could be extended further still in the schools system:

“Businesspeople with no classroom experience should run schools to help tackle the head teacher recruitment crisis, a report to the government is expected to recommend today” (Boone, 2007).

It did indeed recommend this: ‘ambassadors of capital’ were given encouragement to lead schools by the mighty PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) – pedagogues of schooling for capital.

Glenn Rikowski: The Wilby Thesis: A Backward Step for School Privatisation?

Glenn Rikowski: The Wilby Thesis: A Backward Step for School Privatisation?

Four Critics of New Labour’s Educational Crapocalypse

Over the last decade of New Labour government I have been collecting material on the business takeover of schools in England. For me, of the journalists reporting on this phenomenon (even if they don’t call it so) during Blair’s reign have been Jim Kelly, Jon Boone, Francis Beckett and Peter Wilby. Jim Kelly, former education correspondent of the Financial Times, holds iconic status for me. His well-researched and poignant keyboarding got to the heart of what is happening to our schools; though of course he was utterly professional and only presented the facts – which, for me, were enough. Kelly’s knowledge of the ‘education business’ and the ‘business of education’ was peerless. He retired a few years ago and I miss his brilliant work. He was succeeded as education correspondent at the Financial Times by Jon Boone, who in my opinion over the last few years has developed into the best journalist on education in the UK.

Glenn Rikowski: Brown’s PFI Monster Creates Education Spending and Policy Crises

Public-private partnershipGlenn Rikowski: Brown’s PFI Monster Creates Education Spending and Policy Crises

Introduction

In the world of education politics, as in life generally, sometimes actions of the past come back to haunt those who set them in train. This seems to be the case with Gordon Brown’s Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The PFI appears to be casting a chill-inducing shadow over schools in England today. This article explores the PFI as Gordon Brown’s out of control Monster that is eating up his education policy options and spending plans.

Glenn Rikowski: Finance and Fear: Lessons in Money and Debt

Crédito a estudiantesGlenn Rikowski: Finance and Fear: Lessons in Money and Debt

Introduction

This article can be read as following on from others (e.g. Rikowski, 2007a, 20o7b, and 2007c). It focuses on a now familiar topic in the national press: fear of debt in general, and student debt in particular. As I argued in Rikowski (2007a), as student debt and household and personal debt levels have increased there have repetitive calls for more emphasis on ‘financial literacy’ programmes for our schoolchildren. Now New Labour under Gordon Brown has given the depressing pedagogy of the debt educators something to cheer about: lessons in debt management.

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