THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EDUCATION, ECONOMY

AND SOCIAL SYSTEMS

 

by Florian Colceag

 

 

         Introduction

     Cultures are preserved or transformed due to educational systems. People that are educated in an educational style will behave corresponding to the educational goals induced by the educational system, this creating a social capital.

     ” Social capital is an instantiated informal norm that promotes cooperation between two or more individuals. The norms that constitute social capital can range from a norm of reciprocity between two friends, all the way up to complex and elaborately articulated doctrines like Christianity or Confucianism (Fukuyama, 1999)”

     Different cultures developed locally different forms of social capital. These customs were able to provide a form of local stability in ecological and economical niches, due to a particular system of education from family to official education.

     Globalization policies introduce new demands for different cultures and economic systems. These demands are not always adjustable to any culture, mainly because people are educated in respect to different norms than those required by globalization policies. This is why an imperious problem is emerging in our time: how to develop an educational system adjustable to cultural demands, but in the same time adjustable to economic and environmental policies that characterize globalization and the post-industrial period. Different cultures develop different kinds of giftedness correlated to specific economic demands. An intrusive culture might not be absorbed due to the unequal distribution of giftedness on the globe, and to the incapacity of adjustment generated by the lock of specialized human resources.   

     Globalization must be characterized by an enormous responsibility concerning the preservation of cultural capital developed during the history. Globalization policies must be responsible also about the detrimental consequences for the environment that appears because of the incorrect understanding of the artificial demands required by another culture.

There are two ways to assure a globalization politics balance: one is by imposing new rules using different kind of forces, the second is to create stability by integrating every culture, economy, education in an organic way, respecting not destroying local values. The general tendency is to use the simplest variant, the first one. The second one is more difficult, more technical but in the same time more protective. It might be a complex but adequate response for a complex problem.

     A great responsibility is educational. Classic systems of education are not able to assure environmental protection, economic adaptability, or trust in other cultures’ values. A profound change must be produced in education to become non-aggressive for the environment, adjustable to global economic demands, or able to support inter-cultural values.

 

A complex problem

     The relationship between educational systems and the economy is very strong. In the economy the educational and cultural qualities obtained by education will transform economical values. We can observe this situation in every culture we study. The education enriched in school is only a continuation of familial education and has the tendency to preserve the local values and the local culture. Relationships between familial structure, familial education, local cultures, and economic systems are studied by many economic philosophies.

     “Granovetter’s idea of embeddedness may be seen as an attempt to introduce into the analysis of economic systems social organization and social relations not merely as a structure that springs into place to fulfill an economic function, but as a structure with history and continuity that give it an independent effect on the functioning of economic systems.( James Coleman,1988)”

    For example, monopolistic economies were developed only in some countries. This fact was due to the local psychology, cultural concepts such as discipline, efficiency, and social respect. These values were cultivated by families and also by schools. As a final result, the economical system requires educated persons with the same qualities (discipline, efficiency and social respect).  The final result is an educational system cultivating these social qualities, instead of high intellectual qualities like abstract thinking, generalization, or passion for research. A monopolistic economy characterizes many countries with an industrial economy where big economical associations control the market.

    Another style recognized in education is strictly related to familial economy. In a familial economy, the tendency is to develop children’s qualities as much as possible, in order to give them the possibility for developing an individual economical niche. This kind of educational system develops and exploits individual skills and is very creative and artistic. The main qualities required by familial economic system and developed by the system of education are based on how to think instead of how to behave. As a final result we can see a high level of creativity and talent, but a low level of discipline and social respect. Familial economy is characterized by small familial factories with small business, developing a competitive  market.Francis Fukuyama, Edward Banfield, James Coleman , and other economists studied this connection and discovered that social capital has the tendency to be an invariant characterizing different cultural area:

     “Not just any set of instantiated norms constitutes social capital: they must lead to cooperation in groups and therefore are related to traditional virtues like honesty, the keeping of commitments, reliable performance of duties, reciprocity, and the like. A norm like the one described by Edward Banfield as characterizing southern Italy, which enjoins individuals to trust members of their immediate nuclear family but to take advantage of everyone else, is clearly not the basis of social capital outside the family ( Fukuyama F. 1999)”

     “Probably the most important and most original development in the economics of education in the past 30 years has been the idea that concept of physical capital as embodied in tools, machines, and other productive equipment can be extended to include human capital as well( Schultz 1961; Becker 1964). Physical capital is created by changes in persons that bring about skills and capabilities that make them able to act in new ways.(James Coleman; 1988)”

     Social capitals developed by different cultures are also different. Traditional historical cultures developed a more protective social capital for human and natural environment sacrificing dynamism. New cultures are more dynamic and efficient, but in the same time more simplistic and less protective. Any kinds of social capitals have good and bad characteristics, and each of them found different solutions for the same problem.

     The system of education based on how to behave develops a simplistic and efficient style of life. People feel better in communities, have a cooperative style of life and are economically prosperous with hard work. The design of their houses or clothes is simple and efficient, they are respectful, but intolerant to a different kind of education. They try not to offend others, and cultivate self-respect, self-efficacy, and familial comfort.

     In contrast the education based on how to think gives, as a final result, people with high moral standards, but also people with low moral standards; people with high intellectual qualities, and people with low intellectual qualities. A great variability of characteristics are developed by this system of education from intellectual, moral, social, economical to artistic, scientific or philosophical. The economy is not as strong as in the first system but is not so destructive for the natural environment, as it is in the first system. The social values cultivated in this system are hospitality, generosity, and competition for ideas.

     In fact each culture developed a unique way of adaptation to environment, economy and a particular educational system. The relationships among nations provided cultural produces exchange, and local economy produces exchange.

      It seems that each kind of culture is the consumer of products generated by the other one. A monopolistic society is a great consumer of intellectual or artistic produces generated by familial society. At the same time familial society is a great consumer of technological products, social, economical rules and standards, or of regulations generated by the monopolistic society. It seems to be a balance between these two kinds of societies but is not. In fact, there is a permanent conceptual struggle between these two systems. This struggle can take the form of cooperation versus competition, or as self-respect versus the right of individuality. It may be also seen as a conflict between intellectual skills versus social skills, or between efficiency and artistic development. The sense of freedom cultivated by these two kinds of cultures and economies are also different. For a monopolistic system, it is the freedom to achieve in any social position, for familial system is the freedom to achieve to any human standard. The first one cultivates economical soldiers, the second one cultivates creators and artists. Each one wishes to have the qualities cultivated by the other one but has the biggest appreciation for their own value. Everything appears to be reflected through a mirror that transforms some qualities in values to these cultures, but the qualities are not the same. Different cultures develop different forms of social capital, some of them antagonistic, most of them adjusted to very specific demands.

    From the global balance point of view humanity is in this period in a critical point. If in the ancient period humans were aggressed by nature, they become later aggressors. This kind of behavior becomes more destructive in globalization because of the complex cultural, social, economical, and educational conflict.

       “ Virtually all forms of traditional culture-social groups like tribes, clans, village associations, religious sects, etc. are based on shared norms and use these norms to achieve cooperative ends. The literature on development has not, as general rule, found social capital in this form to be an asset; it is much more typically regarded as a liability. Economic modernization was seen as antithetical to traditional culture and social organization, and would either wipe them away or else be itself blocked by forces of traditionalism. Why should this be so, if social capital is genuinely a form of capital? The reason, in my view, has to do with the fact that such groups have a narrow radius of trust. In-group solidarity reduces the ability of group members to cooperate with outsiders, and often imposes negative externalities on the latter. For example, in the Chinese parts of East Asia and much of Latin America, social capital resides largely in families and a rather narrow circle of personal friends. It is difficult for people to trust those outside of these narrow circles. Strangers fall into a different category than kin; a lower standard of moral behavior applies when one becomes, for example, a public official. This provides cultural reinforcement for corruption: in such societies, one feels entitled to steal on behalf of one's family. (Fukuyama, 1999)

     Each kind of culture that developed a particular social capital has particular beliefs and customs, historical experience, or traditions. Corrupting or destroying them means to loose a precious system of values.

     The main problem is to use cultural, educational and economical experiences in order to create stability and development, not in order to impose by force new rules to lead the world. This balanced might be obtained through education.

     The main problem of both educational systems is educational reform. Each system desires to achieve the positive results obtained by the other one, the reform becomes permanent and unstable, because any change creates a lot of new problems, which needs another reform with different goals. The main problem is ”Is it possible to obtain a system of education with the positive qualities from both parts?”  To respond to this problem we might notice first if these two educational systems are the only two systems existing in the world. The response is negative. At least one other form of education exists from ancient time. It is the spiritual form of education. All religions included this form of education in different variants. The pure variant of spirituality has no contact with economy, art, or culture. It may be found in India, in our times, were Sanyasins, persons who have no fortune, are completely naked, and eat only what people give, have only the following preoccupations: to protect the nature including humans, animals, plants, insects, or bacteria, and to understand the ultimate laws of the universe. There are also contaminated variants of these kinds of education. Most of them are religious. Contamination is produced by economical reasons, most of churches are rich, or by cultural factors, there are religions characterizing different cultures. We can find contamination between monopolistic and familial education too. There are many international experiments in this direction none are very successful. All have some good points and bad points.

     Educational process happens not only in school, but also in family, society, church, working place.  It characterizes a culture and can not be reformed only in one specific component, because of the cultural stability assured by the others ”(Frasier 1989”,Baldwin 1978”, Tonemah and Brittan 1985” “ Hillard 1978”, Lee 1984, 1989)”.

      Tonemah and Brittan(1985) noted the strong tribal perspective associated with the concept of giftedness in their description of gifted attributes of Native American students. They delineated characteristics of gifted potential in four areas:

(a)  acquired skills in language, learning, and technological skills;

(b)  tribal/ cultural understanding referring to their exceptional knowledge of ceremonies, tribal traditions, and other tribes;

(c)  personal /human qualities such as high intelligence, visionary/inquisitive/intuitive, respectful of elders, and creative skills: and

(d) aesthetic abilities, referring to unusual talents in the visual and performing arts, and arts based in the Indian culture.

     Garrison (1989) described gifted Native American individuals as tending to be less dependent on language to communicate ideas, to learn by observation and to teach by modeling, and to consider the group more important than the individual;” ( Frasier 1995)               Different cultures required different human qualities, gifts and social adjustments.

 Schools can not assure an educational reform without the contribution of all the other factors. This is why, cultural or educational philosophy is not very easily absorbed.

     From another point of view different education philosophies are contradictory each other. For example religious philosophies contradict economical philosophies. Using Sanyasin’s way of life, the environment will be perfectly protected, but economy can be developed. Using a composed philosophy of education and cultural structuring developed by cristianism, we find other internal contradiction. For example, the right for abortion that may assure a populational balance contradicts the fundamental right for life assured by divine law in any religion.

Maladjustment

       What is happening when a culture with a specific economy and educational system invade another culture. There are many historical examples, which give us the possibility to see the amplitude of damages. One of them is typical American domination after colonial invasion on the American continent .The damages produced on land fertility due to agricultural techniques transformed a large part of the fertile land in desert.  Now for the same surface with grass cultivated for growing cows, half of the meat quantity is produced than few centuries ago, when buffaloes and deer lived on the same surface of land. Native American cultures that were developed on the economic system based on direct exploitation of natural resources were extremely respectful for the environment. They developed a system of moral concerns regarding land protection that didn’t characterize the intrusive cultures. Something similar is happening now in Australia due to the same factors and with similar cultures. Even more detrimental is the destructive process developed after 1990 in many parts of the globe. American intrusion in Chinese economy developed it very fast, but in the same time a large part of Chinese forests disappeared swallowed by this hungry economy. Traditional Chinese economy was very protective of the environment, transforming every piece of wood in a useful or artistic object in an original way. American economy requires some standards of quality for the same wood, being more detrimental for the environment. Chinese economy was flexible, American standards are more rigid, and a consequence in the detriment of the nature. Traditionally Chinese people were educated with different standards being concerned more on ideas, philosophy, and affectivity than on the respect for standards characterizing monopolistic economy.  The tropical forests of Borneo also disappeared almost entirely, many populations with jungle cultures being forced to go to the city

searching for a job.

     Another example is Romania. Economical demands concerning macro economical characteristics were not accompanied by microeconomic, organizing economical system with responsibility. As a result the Romanian economy was damaged in the last ten years. Education provided by Romanian economical system was not adjusted to new demands quickly enough to avoid economical destruction by creating new kinds of specialists. This possibility was not possible mainly because of cultural considerations. Romanian culture developed a particular kind of giftedness and moral qualities, most of them opposite to

adjust to the pressure of new demands. Cultures don’t die so easily, economies can be redeveloped, new generations may adjust to new demands, but natural detriments are very difficult to be ever recuperated. This is why globalization policies must be extremely responsible for any culture. The role of education becomes in these conditions more important than ever. Even if this task is extremely difficult humans must create a complex chain of implications from education to the balance with the natural environment. This chain must pass through cultural stability, economical flexibility and respect for other cultures. Our neighbors are not our enemies, but our collaborators. Everybody have something good to learn from another culture. The next period must be characterized by the desire of preservation of natural environment using educational policies. This kind of demands might change people and with them economical aggressive rules or cultural aggressive behaviors. The goal is human and nature to survive together. World is our world, not their world. If pollution happens in a place of this planet, it will not remain between national borders. If in a country all the forests will disappear, clime will change in a different country too. Natural genetic banks and cultural bank are everything we have stable and bust be preserved. There are the results of life evolution and of historical human evolution. If a country will conquer the world, will destroy the world by imposing other values. Increasing number of people will require another kind of economy protective to natural and cultural economy if we want to preserve the world. A major role in this global world is educational.

A difficult task

      It seems to be impossible to define and develop a system of education that might be internally consistent, or philosophically non-contradictory, but it is not. New technologies developed a new vision about communication; new ultimate scientific theories have the tendency to improve our way of thinking eliminating some of our contradictions. The globalization process deletes the borders between nations and economies, cultivating in the same time the cross-cultural concepts. The postindustrial period reduces the necessity for human physic work developing new fields of spirituality: inter human relationships or environmental education. In the future the education will be completely different from what we consider now to be a classic education. Globalization will develop new rules of social game in which communication necessities will delete the border of cultural offense. Now we are still extremely traditional. In monopolistic cultures, people feel offended if their professional value is challenged. Even if they use reductionism methodologies of thinking and working narrowing their field of activity as much as possible, they are very proud of the results of their work. Even if they don’t have a global vision about the detriments produced in the natural environment by their philosophy of hard workers, they don’t admit to doubt that their work is a waste of resources. Familial economies and education promote a better way of exploiting the environment, being more elastic regarding the standards. Their products have the tendency to be unique, not serial, because of their view and respect for different moral concepts. In these cultures a human feels offended if somebody challenges his (hers) moral standards. Even if these are the societies with a large spectrum of educational derivatives, and where social standards are not as respected as in monopolist economies, they feel offended if somebody doesn’t trust them. I believe and I hope that these kinds of cultural offenses will disappear very soon, and we will be the witnesses of a new kind of education. Globalization requires this, cultural outrage or lack of trust in other cultures being potentially a factor of instability. In a world with a unique economy desired by a global world must be found also a cultural protective way of education, that might be able to assure a good informational contact avoiding misunderstandings. This is maybe the most important step in assuring stability in the new millennium. Any culture needs more information because most of its problems found solutions in other cultures. Cultural fortune represents now the biggest gift for the globalization period. This is why it must be stimulated by a global system of education designed to value different cultural solution for the global world.  Actual systems of education are designed for different goals and are very detrimental in long term for the natural environment”(Chet Bowers 1985)”

    The design of this new education is a very great challenge for every educator and for every human. The new education will have as result, a new economy, and social life in another period. If the design is good the society will be stable and prosperous, if not the problems and crises will multiply in an unpredictable way.

 

References

1)    Banfield Edward The moral basis of a Backward Society; Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1958

2)    Baldwin A.Y. Ethnic and cultural issues. In Colangelo N& Davis G.A. (eds), Handbook of gifted education (pp416-426): Allyn & Bacon 1999

3)    Bowers Chet; Cultural Myths, the Ecological Crises and the paradox of Educational Reform 1985

4)    Colleman James; Social Capital in the creation of human capital; American Journal of Sociology Supplement 94 (1988)

5)    Frasier & others; Core attributes of giftedness: A Foundation for Recognizing the Gifted Potential of Minority and Economically Disatvantaged Students 1995

6)    Fukuyama Francis ;Social Capital and Civil Society; IMF Conference on Second Generation Reform 1999

7)     Hilliard A; Alternatives to IQ Testing: An approach to the identification of gifted “minority” children; Sacramento, CA: California State Department of Education, Sacramento Division of Special Education. (Eric Document Reproductive Service No.Ed 147 009) 1976

8)    Lee, CC; Succesfull rural black adolescents; Psychological profile. Adolescence, 20(77), 129-147 1984

9)    Tonemah S.A. & Brittan M. A. ; American Indian Gifted and Talented Assessment Model (Grant from the U. S. Education Department, Indiana Education Programs No. G008420046). Norman O K : American Indian Research and Development 1985