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Professional Life and Work

Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives: studies in education and change

Educational Research as a Public Intellectual

Part of the problem of positionality and developing a strategy for renewal, is how to reconnect with the project which began with the "we're all in it together" spirit of the forties and continued in the egalitarian projects of the seventies.  Since 1979, this sense of collective social purpose has been under systematic attack.

In a crowded island, such a change in the ethos of the establishment has important implications for intellectuals located in the academy.  For the quickest route to funds and fame has always been sucking up to the establishment, even becoming part of the educational establishment.  Hedges and trimmer always proliferate in such closely patrolled circumstances as exist in a small crowded island.  Since 1979 they have not just proliferated but been richly rewarded.  As soon as the deeply flawed National Curriculum was pronounced there were those who rushed forward with guides and how to implement this monument to iniquity.  This form of collaboration has been richly rewarded.

But there was another feature of the crowded island which I think will return us inevitable to the compassionate 'there is such a thing as society' view, which underpins egalitarianism.  It is quite simply very difficult to escape 'those dreadful people' as one Tory minister called the public, who travel on British Rail.  In a crowded island beggars can be damned as by Jack Straw, but they can't be banished.  In Revolt of the Elites, Lasch has shown how, in America, the elite, intellectuals included, have sought to escape all public commitments and public space.  That option is not available on a crowded island - you can seek to demolish national rail services and national bus services but the resulting traffic jams catch the rich as well as the poor.  So in the end, public transport will have to be re-invented and re-invigorated.  It will prove to be the same with much of public life - which has been so under assault for 18 years.  And with the revival of public life and public services, with the revival of that which is public may come the revival of opportunities for would-be public intellectuals.

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Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives
  • Date of publication: 01/09/2003
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 160
  • Publisher: Open University Press
  • Co-author: NAN
  • Subject:
    Professional Life and Work
  • Available in:
    English
  • Appears in:
    Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives: studies in education and change
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £23.99
  • ISBN: 9780335204113
  • Purchase this book:
    Open University Press
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