Veröffentlicht am 06.06.14

Education as a Commodity

Schools and Universities under the Dictate of the Economy


Published in German under the title: Ware Bildung, Schule und Universität unter dem Diktat der Ökonomie (Hugendubel, Munich/Kreuzlingen, 2007) this book provides a detailed analysis of the hidden agenda behind Germany’s on-going process of educational reform. In today’s schools, teachers and students are bearing the brunt of constant PISA studies and comparative testing to measure the country’s international standing in education. Primary and secondary education, which has now been reduced to 12 instead of 13 years, has left parents increasingly worrying whether their children will successfully make the degree (the so-called ‘turbo’ Abitur) and be able to withstand the pressure and competition at the same time. In the meantime trade associations are brazenly attempting to influence educational policy: Schools are seen not social as institutions but ‘service organizations’ which must make children ‘fit’ for the labor market.

Such and other similar observations have become a daily reality: From kindergarten to university, education has increasingly come under pressure from operating figures, ‘out-put’ criteria and efficiency-thinking alien to the concept of ‘Bildung’ in the German education tradition (‘Bildung’ connoting the comprehensive development of human beings and of all their faculties, education being the means to this end). Schools and universities are being run like businesses directed by managers instead of head-teachers and rectors. The government has withdrawn from taking responsibility and corporations are dictating the content of education. The least important are the students themselves. No thought is being wasted on the kind of education children and youths really need, and the fact that the education of human beings cannot be measured and quantified is also being forgotten. Education is increasingly becoming a commodity.

The author examines these correlations in the context of their ultimate consequences. Based onnumerous examples and a clear definition of terms the real workings of today’s educational system are uncovered: New media, school rankings, benchmarking and evaluations are part of a global, neoliberal attempt to control the education sector according to economic principles. As a result, educational content within public school systems is being gradually transformed to serve economic interests at the sacrifice of general education. The Humboldt ideal of ‘Bildung’ which places great value on personal development through education is being replaced by an economized ideal in which all thinking and feeling is to be trimmed towards efficiency, competition, unthinking conformity in order to produce flexible, ‘competent’ and, of course, ‘creative’ employees for globalized corporations. Ultimately, economized education is to be understood as the intellectual
and emotional preparation for global economic exploitation and war. A systematic overview of all related phenomena and their backgrounds provides a comprehensive view of the influence exerted by international organizations such as the WTO, the World Bank , multinational corporations (for example by means of ERT – European Round Table of Industrialists), foundations (i.e. Bertelsmann) and other global players who subtly control national educational policy debates.

Using a person-oriented definition of education, the author also examines the true goals of education. A process that takes place in interpersonal interaction between teacher and student, education must support students’ development of independence, analytical skills, empathy and compassion as well as democratic responsibility. Educational policy must redirect its focus to serve humanity. Teachers, professors, students and parents are encouraged to re-evaluate their
role and regain control of an educational system that is being auctioned off to the highest bidder by our political representatives, regardless of party membership.

Save as PDF: J.Krautz: Education as a Commodity Summary