Thursday, May 29, 2014

VOX — Curriculum and ideology

Schooling changes are associated with ideological ones but it is difficult to claim a causal relationship. This column attempts to analyse the causal effect of curriculum changes in China on shaping preferences of students. The new curriculum moves one’s belief about democracy by about 25% of a standard deviation in the direction desired by the government. The findings suggest the state can use education to promote socially-useful beliefs and cultivate good citizenship....
The take-away.
Finally, it is worth considering the normative implications of our findings. While evidence of successful state brainwashing is frightening, our results also suggest that the state can use education as a force for the good, by promoting socially-useful beliefs. One hopes that, as Dewey and Lipset discussed decades ago, schooling will be used to cultivate good citizenship and sustain the working of a democratic state. Our findings suggest that it is within the power of education to achieve these aims.
We already knew that nurture is at least as important as nature and that the type of nurture people receive shapes them not only individually but in society. Here is evidence.

This feeds in to the contemporary discussion in economics about pluralism in economics education instead of brainwashing in neoliberalism.

Education is inherently ideological and value-laden; therefore constitutes propaganda. Instead of pretending that education is value-free, it is necessary to examine the values being inculcated.

Curriculum and ideology
  • Davide Cantoni. Chair of Economic History at the University of Munich,  
  • Yuyu Chen, Associate Professor of Applied Economics in the Guanghua School of Management, Peking University,
  • David Y. Yang. PhD student in economics, Stanford University, 
  • Noam Yuchtman, Assistant Professor, Haas School of Business, UC-Berkeley,
    Y. Jane Zhang, Assistant Professor in the Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
(h/t Mark Thoma at Economist's View)

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