Utopia: Some thoughts on education, class and society.
It is a universal given, that education and social class are inextricably entwined. For 'class' read a pyramidal relationship between individuals and groups. It is largely an economic one and a matter of who has control over whom. Any society of sixty million people, as in ours, (though many of course are much larger) require stability to operate. Chaos brings suffering for all. For this reason, it is a statement of the obvious, that not everyone can be in charge, and so it follows that the brightest are best to fill these rolls.
Generally speaking rewards increase with elevation. There may be nothing wrong with this principal but it has got completely out of control. Humans can be selfless but the opposite characteristic is far more common, and rewards are never enough it would seem. We all realise that possessions are temporal and life is short, but this does not stop people wanting to accummulate things and display them - what has been called 'conspicuous consumption', a term coined by Thorstein Veblen well over a century ago. To get a handle on western world view and where we are now in economic terms, we need to link it to Max Weber's idea of the 'protestant ethic'. (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. 1905)
This is why particularly the pay of bosses should operate within what is considered fair and reasonable by the people as a whole. Trouble is that this can mean individuals and companies that provide employment and prosperity, transferring to more liberal climes, making the situation for the many worse. It is a delicate balancing act. The danger is used as emotional blackmail by the beneficiaries to prevent action being taken. Blair famously said he was "relaxed about wealth", a philosophy he has undoubtedly put into practice since relinquishing the post of PM.
But getting back to education, as long as money can get results in specialist educational settings, those with an abundance of it will reinvest, to ensure their progeny maintain the advantage. It might be called a 'vicious circle' that perpetuates the status quo, excluding the others. Qualifications and academic achievement are the key to all top jobs, which by virtue of selection based on ability to pay, is kept within the confines of a select group, with a whole range of social indicators and barriers.
That, my friend, is the British way of doing education in a nutshell. All power to the elect and the devil take the hind-most. In its place we need to reinvigorate the notion of "commonwealth", into which all contribute and all draw out, according to genuine ability or need, and that none should take less than they need or give less than they can afford. In the five hundreth anniversary of More's 'Utopia', isn't it time we made strides to achieved it?