Our Schools/Our Selves: Fall 2008

Breaking the Iron Cage: Resistance to the Schooling of Global Capitalism
November 1, 2008

When we published the first of what we are beginning to call our “Iron Cage” series on the schooling of global capitalism, we were especially conscious of how the intensity of the privatization/cutback thrust of neo-liberal ministries of education had undercut organizing on the deeper issues of governance, curriculum and pedagogy. Fighting back on the fiscal front still seemed to be all that could realistically be handled by most parents and students, teachers and school board workers, though in our indigenous communities the human substance of their children’s educational experience remained at the forefront of their demands.

In most of the world, the struggle around those deeper issues of governance, curriculum and pedagogy was only just beginning to find its voice (once more), and our sense of it at the time was that “a new resistance movement in our schools appears to be in the making, but we have yet no clear grasp on its eventual outcome.” We have still no clear grasp on its eventual outcome, but now, a little more than two years later, we know that something important has begun to change in the politics of our school systems around the world.

The issue of democratic control of our schools and the question of what our children are to learn and how they are to be taught have moved closer to the centre of public debate. There is still a long way to go, to be sure, but the movement has begun, and it has found expression – not just in education, but across whole societies – for a more substantial human vision that can penetrate the iron cage of neo-liberal ideology and practice.