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Education, Knowledge, and Social Change Analytical Essay

According to Ball and Youdell (2009), there is a hidden privatisation in public education. The authors say that “international agencies and national governments have hidden education agendas to privatise public education”. In some cases, privatisation is quite explicit in educational policies while in other cases, it is hidden. Privatisation is pursued as a solution to the shortfall in public education.

In other cases, privatisation takes the form of choice, effectiveness, devolution, and accountability during policymaking. Ball and Youdell say that the policies may not be explicitly articulated in terms of privatisation. Instead, the policies may introduce techniques and values used in private schools to improve the performance of public schools. This implies that public schools are gradually being turned into businesses.

Governments use privatisation as a policy tool and not as a means to give up its responsibility to manage problems within the society.

There are two main forms of privatisation evident from the research work of Ball and Youdell. Endogenous and exogenous privatisation is what the two researchers use to refer to the two forms of privatisation. In the latter, public education is opened up to the private sector with aim of making profit. Participation of private sector is used to manage public education. This form is direct and explicit.

The second form identified by the authors is endogenous, where ideas and techniques applied in private education are borrowed and used in public education. From their findings, privatisation does involve not only educational services and education but also policies. In relation to policies, privatisation of education can take a number of outlines, including research and consultation.

Privatisation in education has changed employment conditions and labour relations. It has created a situation where teachers are employed based on performance contracts. People with no qualification in teaching can have a chance to teach on low pay. The worth of students is based on competition and the labour market.

The knowledge and skills of students are perceived to be either desirable or not based on the liabilities and assets relating to their knowledge and skills. Students with high levels of academic abilities are generally easy to teach and manage. As a result, such students would be highly attractive and sought after by employers. On the contrary, the students with low academic abilities are disregarded by employers.

The inequality caused by social class in education has led to the development of stereotypes. Post schools are considered to perform better than public schools due to the privileges they enjoy. However, this is only a stereotype because certain public primary schools have constantly achieved good results.

Additionally, private schools are said to have liaison officers that check lesson plans on regular basis while public schools do not. There is also more pressure for teachers in private schools to keep their jobs because they are required to perform. These are just but stereotypes since teachers in public schools also target results and are pressured to perform well.

Anderson (1994) supports the findings of Ball and Youdell. He says that there is a strong relationship between social class and systems in education. Schools are considered to be social organisations that play important functions in the structure and functioning of societies.

For instance, schools play the role of socialising those being educated, transmitting culture, developing employable skills among those being educated, bringing about personality and behavioral change, promoting physical mental and moral growth, bringing about desirable changes in the economic, social, and technological areas, enhancing social integration, and empowering individual to develop independent thinking and decision making abilities.

Social relationships in education is also characterised by negative aspects such as stratification, class formation, ethics and racial differentiations, social control and acquisition of power by individuals, and acquisition of competitive instead of cooperative attitudes in society.

Education is a social institution in which there are various phenomena, organisation and so on. There are for instance, schools, colleges, universities, and other training facilities. All of which is made up of two main components, namely, the instructors of different ranks and the learners. Social relationships impact education through its contribution to the process of teaching and learning.

In social organisation of schools, the teacher is usually described as the adult representative of the society. The honour accorded to teachers is attributed to the role they play as the adult representative of the society. However, if the appropriate means and resources to carry out the activities of an organisation are lacking, the goals may not be realised.

The teaching activities carried out by teacher distinguish schools to be unique structures in the society. The teaching and learning activities facilitated by teachers spearhead the attainment of goals of the school. As a result, teachers play important roles, including that of instructors, guides, counsellor, evaluator, judge, decision-maker, leader, surrogate parent, and disciplinarian.

A growing child inevitably is taught by and learns from various situations such as other children, parents, siblings, family, community members, teachers, and by observation. All these situations form a learner’s learning environment. These learning environments have the capacity to influence and determine a learner’s acquisition of mental, physical, and social knowledge.

They also have the capacity to influence the learner’s attitudes for interactions, present and future abilities, integration and cooperation, behaviour change and personality growth, individual experiences, competencies, as well as discriminations.

This implies that if the nature of social environment is such that there is keen interest, coordinated effort, and adequate provision, the growing child will develop as a well balanced, socially adjusted, and emotionally stable person ready to learn.

On the other hand, if the social learning environments are such that there is indifference, ignorance, social discord, improper family care, condoning of deviant behaviours, and lack of guidance, the growing child is likely to grow to be an ill-fated, ill-behaved, and socially maladjusted person. The ability and opportunities of such a child to lead a full life in society would be greatly impaired.

Due to the impact of the social learning environment on a child, it is important for education systems to make learning environments equal to all. Social class creates differences in education which impact on outcome and quality of education.

It causes the outcome and quality to be uneven across various educational institutions in a country. For instance, private schools have been found to create a learning environment that brings out the best out of children. This is obviously due to a number of factors.

In developed economies such as Australia, the more affluent a society is the better the schools. Schools in suburban districts offer better opportunity and schooling experiences than the schools in a less social class district. The institutions are well funded and offer quality education in return. Education inequality is evident in most societies and communities in Australia.

The public education system is deserted by wealthy families. Students from poor backgrounds make the largest percentage of children attending government schools. Seventy-five percent of rich families in Australia and other developed countries have their children in private and catholic schools.

As mentioned earlier, private schools are funded well and offer better opportunities and quality of education. In contrast, funding for public schools comes from the government and sometimes the funds may not be adequate to meet all the needs of the institutions. In normal cases, private schools outperform public schools due to a number of benefits they enjoy compared public schools.

Several efforts have been initiated to ensure equality in education. One such strategy for equality is busing aimed at improving the social mix of students. The use of this strategy implies that money alone cannot be used to bolster academic quality. Cooperative efforts from teachers, students, and parents make significant contribution to the outcome of education in the presence of social inequality.

In other words, if all the schools were to be equally funded, schools with a good social mix of students would perform better than others. Similarly, students with a background where educational values are encouraged would perform better than those from a contrary social background.

Scholars in the field of sociology and education have argued that the practice by most parents to get the best for their children is egocentric and antisocial. It is common to find parents, especially from wealthy backgrounds taking their children to highly expensive schools in order to get the best education.

According to Anderson (1996), most educational systems in both developed and underdeveloped countries will never be worthy of the society until children of all social status and background are able to attend the same school.

Therefore, in the terms of this scholar, an educational system is considered socially just if it is able to secure good, desirable education for all children. In the current educational system in Australia, characterised by economical inequality and hierarchical provision of education, there is a lot to be done to realise the ideas of Anderson.

Education is also affected by social class through economic differences across Australian states. Some states, especially South Australia and Tasmanian, have the highest numbers of low-income families. Students from such states are less likely to enjoy social mix in their schools. In high-income states, the level of disparity is quite low as students from all background have a high chance of enjoying social mix in their schools.

In order to make social improvements in education, scholars have come up with various ideas. It is established that a large percentage of education funding is spent on pupils who are privately educated. Private schools greatly contribute to elitism and social divisions. Therefore, it is only prudent to abolish the idea of private schools. The structures in the society undermine the fundamentals of social justice.

These structures categorise individuals in the society according to classes which disadvantage others but benefit a few. The elite in the society may have little concern for state schools because their children hardly attend state schools. The upper class and elite have the political and economic power to demonstrate commitment in improving the state of public schools and create equality in education.

Education is used to enhance critical consciousness and enabling human beings to pursue completeness by acting consciously upon their abilities and limitations. This basically implies that education is used to enhance human creativity. Creativity as a concept signifies the ability to cause to exist or bring into being something that never existed before. The second philosophy entails epistemology or the concept of knowledge.

Education basically involves acquisition of knowledge, skills, and other types of information by the learners. Therefore epistemology entails, examining the nature, condition and extent of knowledge in the learners.

The major goal for training of school instructors is to prepare students to become better citizens in the society. The standard for critical pedagogy is aimed at social change and promoting active citizenship. The inequality in education affects the way instruction is delivered.

Critical pedagogy has been introduced in teacher training as a strategy for social transformation, which addresses injustices and inequality in education. Instructors are considered to be agents of transformation because of their role to empower students to become active citizens.

The concept of epistemology used in education influences several aspects of education, such as development of curriculum, teacher-learner interaction, and methodology. Knowledge that is gained in the classroom takes two forms: knowledge involving practical skills and knowledge involving the mind. The knowledge involving the mind is basically theoretical and is expressed as ideas in propositions and statements.

When applied in education, the concept of knowledge is important in both forms of theoretical and practical. Theoretical knowledge is necessary for general knowledge, while practical knowledge is important for providing evidence to theory.

The source of learner knowledge will come through both empiricism and rationalism. The learners have to be engaged to use their minds to extract knowledge from experience they go through in their daily lives. In the development of curriculum, there has to provide for learners to make use of their experiences and come to the knowledge of things.

At the same time, practical sessions, especially for certain disciplines, help the learners acquire knowledge by getting their hands-on experience. Every other discipline creates uses practical means to explain concepts; these are the circumstances that the learners experiences on daily basis, and also the objects that they interact with in their immediate surroundings.

Creativity, on the other hand, is a concept that would allow the learner to be more human by exploiting their human abilities. It is only through creativity that human beings are able to make the environment around them a better place of living and a place that meets their needs.

Human beings have to, therefore, assume a subjective role in their immediate environment by being involved in creation of objects and ideas that never existed before. This concept can be applied in the execution and implementation of curriculum, especially during instruction.


Anderson, R. (1984). Some reflections on the acquisition of knowledge. Educational Researcher, 13(10), 5-10.

Ball, S. J., & Youdell, D. (2009). Hidden privatisation in public education. NUT Education Review, 21(2), 73-83.

Ballantine, J., & Larres, P. M. (2007). Cooperative learning: a pedagogy to improve student’s generic skills. Education + Training, 12(2), 126-137.

Banks, J. A. (2007). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Connell, R. (2011). Working-class families and the new secondary education. In Confronting equality: Gender, knowledge and global change. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Hatton, E. (1996). Teaching children in poverty: Three Australian primary school responses. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 17(1), 39-52.

Leonard, V., & LeBrasseur, R. (2008). Individual assignments and academic dishonesty: Exploring the conundrum. The Australian Educational Researcher, 35(1), 37-56.

Rowe, E., & Windle, J. (2012). The Australian middle class and education: A small-scale study of the school choice experience as framed by ‘my school’ within inner city families. Critical Studies in Education, 53(2), 137-151.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Education, Knowledge, and Social Change'. 16 September.

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