Education and equality

Eric Braithwaite
Vol 1, Number 1, p.30
The idea that all human beings are or ought to be equal has high standing amongst the most hallowed Western cultural traditions. There is now a huge literature about the relationship between education and equality which, I believe, has obscured more than it has illuminated the realities of the social and economic situation. In this paper I propose to take a fresh look at some of the issues involved. In particular, I want to consider what might be meant by concepts such as ‘equality’, ‘equal opportunity’, and ‘education’; what some influential writers have said about them; how they might connect with certain historical situations; and, of supreme importance, whether equality is possible under capitalism. My perspective is historical, since I have come to think that, in order to understand where we are, it is necessary to discover how we got there. Certainly, there is already a ‘respectable’ tradition of (Marxist) analysis in this country. But I have nowhere found any attempt at the sort of comprehensive look at the political economy of education whose barest outline I attempt to sketch here.