Contemporary school systems are not working well. Educational solutions abound, but the problems remain. This is because our school systems are not primarily concerned with education. Their driving forces are political and economic. Any systemic solution to schooling’s current difficulties will start with politics; not, in any conventional sense, with education. Twenty-first Century Schools traces the extension of political control over Britain’s school system and, through US case studies, looks at alternative methods of organisation. The authors argue that Anglo-American school systems provide a good education for a small minority and, to the majority, offer inadequate schooling. Though this has always been inequitable it may, in the past, have been economically efficient, at least from the viewpoint of the state. If that was once true for mercantile and industrial economies, it is not true now. The knowledge economies toward which the UK and US are moving demand a continuing ability to learn, and to innovate, right across the workforce. Our time-honoured tradition of anachronistic curricula, didactically taught, does not develop these qualities. For those reasons the current Anglo-American drive to entrench unequal educational opportunity is at once economically, politically and socially misconceived.From these premises, Twenty-first Century Schools goes on to outline the political and educational changes needed to shape school systems which are socially and economically adapted to the new century.
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