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Climate change and its effects aren’t some future possibilities waiting to happen unless we take action today. No. The effect of climate change is already occurring. Today. Right now. Around the world, people have been displaced, fell ill, or died because of the globe’s changing climate. These effects are uneven: Some countries and classes of people are more affected by global warming than others. Still, the United Nations estimates that catastrophic consequences from climate change are only a decade away. That’s the year 2029. [Editor’s note: The IPCC report is from 2018 and gave a 12-year prediction, so it should read 2030, not 2029.]

What is the role of education policy in an era of detrimental climate change?

My guest today is Marcia McKenzie, a professor in the Department of Educational Foundations at the University of Saskatchewan and director of the Sustainability Education Research Institute. She recently has been awarded a grant to research UN policy programs in relation to climate change education and in June will release a report for the United Nations that reviews country progress on climate change education and education for sustainable development.

In our conversation, we talk about what countries are doing or not doing in terms of education and sustainability, and we reflect on some of the existential questions that climate change brings to the fore.

Citation: McKenzie, Marcia, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 154, podcast audio, May 13, 2019. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/mckenzie/

Will Brehm  2:24
So, Marcia Mckenzie, welcome to FreshEd.

Marcia McKenzie  2:26
Thank you very much. Great to be talking with you.

Will Brehm  2:27
So, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -which is a UN body, the IPCC I think, is the acronym- says that there is a decade left to make significant changes to avoid catastrophic consequences from climate change itself. So what role do you think education plays in mitigating some of these catastrophic consequences from climate change that the IPCC says might happen in 10 years? I mean, that is 2030.

Marcia McKenzie  3:00
Yeah. Well, I don’t know if you’re familiar with David Suzuki, a Canadian environmentalist who created his foundation decades ago, and he says now if he knew how long it was going to take us to take action, he would have got into education much earlier. So, yeah, and when we see that the problems with climate change, it’s not because we don’t have the scientific understanding of what’s happening. It’s not that we don’t have the technical ability to move to other energy forms and address climate change and mitigate still the worst of its impacts, but we don’t. We’re not taking the action that’s needed because we lack the will, you know, socially and culturally and politically. So, I think that is the role of education in terms of as the UNFCCC, which was the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was signed back in 1992. With all the different member parties that meets every year at the COP [Conference of the Parties] meetings. And there is a commitment to education, training and public awareness that’s in that agreement that member parties to UNFCCC have signed on to but, because we don’t have a lot of research on it, you know, any data, we don’t even really have a good understanding of what makes good climate change education, we haven’t been doing as much as we can be or could be. And yet, there’s this recognition and even in that, that 2018 IPCC report, the recognition that we really need to be doing a better job of education in order to have people pushing for the change we need, right?

Will Brehm  4:47
So basically, you’re saying that everyone recognizes education is like, deeply important, but we: one, we don’t know exactly what all these different countries are doing. And two: we don’t know what actually makes good education, for, or about climate change to mitigate some of these solutions. So, I mean, and we have 10 years before…that seems like a pretty big challenge. What do we do first? Is the first step to just sort of get an understanding of what’s happening around the world and all countries that are signatory to that convention?

Marcia McKenzie  5:21
Well, I think both can be done in conjunction. So there is quite a bit of good work and understanding in other disciplinary fields, say on the sociology of climate change denial, Kari Norgaard’s work, for example, where she talks about not just the, you know, what you might think of as denial in terms of saying, “No, climate change is not caused by humans”, or we don’t even agree it’s happening, but more of the subtle forms of denial that you and I and, you know, most listeners are probably engaged in where, yes, you know, climate change is happening, you know, that it’s being caused mostly by human activity. And yet because of the realities of does this mean the planets not going to be habitable for humans within a generation or two? And we don’t know how to take action, you know, people turn away from that. Right? So, she calls it implicatory denial where you are implicated in it, you don’t know what to do, you kind of live this double life.

Will Brehm  6:20
I understand that climate change happens but I’m still going to eat red meat, and fly to conferences, and buy a big SUV.

Marcia McKenzie  6:27
Exactly! And there’s other literature as well in anthropology, climate change, communication around the importance of framing such emotional issues in terms of cultural frames and priorities that are important for different groups, whether it’s a business community, a Christian religious community, or indigenous community. Candis Callison, who’s an anthropologist and Media Studies person has written about that as well in a really powerful way. So, I think we need to be bringing those insights that have been developing over the past decade or so in other fields more into education, and into both policy and practice. Because what we see right now a lot of what’s being done as climate change education, whether it’s in formal education, K-12, or higher education, or in science communication, for example, that governments may be doing and so on, is still there much just based on educating people on the science of climate change.

Will Brehm  7:29
Like it exists. Yeah.

Marcia McKenzie  7:30
And here’s how it works with the assumption that therefore people are going to be empowered to take action. But we know from longer histories of research and environmental education, as well as other fields that have looked at things like Holocaust education, when things are so emotional, so difficult that you really need to take those aspects on and wrap it into how we do education and not just teaching the science but actually look at ways to engage people in, “Yes, this is difficult and there is grief involved and there is loss” and how do you kind of wade through that, and engaging it so that we actually look at it rather than look away.

Will Brehm  8:15
It’s quite existential realizing we could be the last generation of human species and how then do you teach about it? I mean, it is totally emotional, it is totally devastating in a way and I mean, that connection to the Holocaust. I never made that connection, but I can see where educators might learn a lot from Holocaust education and other sort of genocide, conflict issues that people have to work through.

Marcia McKenzie  8:43
And I guess the second part you’re asking about in terms of looking at what different countries are doing. I think that is really key. And I’m hopeful. I don’t know if that is naive, maybe but because education is a commitment that member parties have signed on to in committing to it with the joining the UNFCCC framework. If we can develop better data and on what countries are doing and then use that to sort of leverage change. So, if you can say, “In Canada, we’re doing this in, you know, Sweden, they’re doing that, and you can kind of compare and contrast. So, who’s got it in their formal education system? And how are they doing it? Right. So, it’s going back to the first point, it’s not just is it there, but how is it being done? What’s the quality as well as the quantity and developing that data, which I mean, we have the capability to do that and a new study will be released later this year in a few months just developed that we did with UNESCO and the UNFCCC and it was an analysis of all the country submissions to the UNFCCC from 194 member countries to look at how they’re already talking about how they’re engaging in climate change education in those submissions, so that we can, by pulling that out of the submissions and looking at it together, then we can sort of set some here’s a baseline of where we’re at or where we’re at with our reporting, and where could we be next year or the year after through the COP process?

Will Brehm  10:25
Right. And so that is -it sounds like what you’re describing is using some sort of evidence, global evidence, comparable evidence from all different countries involved in the UN. But really, it being used as a political project to sort of force particular change. I mean, that is what it sounds like. It almost reminds me of PISA, you know using the sort of same test all over the world and, it has become very, very political and there’s plenty of research about that.

Marcia McKenzie  10:56
Yeah. And it’s kind of -because I consider myself a critical researcher, critical policy researcher and you know, a lot of the work done on large-scale assessment and testing is quite, you know, there’s a lot of skepticism and concern, and how do you compare across different countries and socio-economic considerations, and all these very complicated and fraught. And so, it’s kind of ironic, I guess, to be in the situation of thinking, well, here’s an issue where we’re running out of time, if there’s any chance that data can help us, then let’s mobilize that.

Will Brehm  11:32
Right. Any tool we can find, let’s use it.

Marcia McKenzie  11:34
Yea, exactly!

Will Brehm  11:35
So, what would worry you? In this sort of political project and getting this data, are there worries? Because, from a critical scholar, you look at other examples like PISA and sure, there’s plenty to be critical about PISA and I’ve had people on the show talk very critically about it. So, from your thinking through this climate change education or education about climate change and sustainability, what are the worries that you might have?

Marcia McKenzie  12:04
So yeah, I guess one of my concerns potentially with amassing that kind of global data is the way that these type of things can be used almost like branding on a product, you’d buy in the supermarket where it says it’s green, and then it’s sort of like guilt free shopping or whatever. But often there’s, we call it greenwashing because it’s not necessarily a sustainable product, or it’s much more complicated and things going on behind the scenes. So, I mean, that is a concern anytime you’re using data like this to kind of give gold stars or silver stars or you know, who’s doing it right. And where they kind of get off the hook, like, Okay, you got it there you say on paper that you’re doing it, therefore, that’s good enough. And what’s represented in a policy document doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s happening on the ground either. So, there are definite limitations to that type of assessment. I mean, anything that there is so far around education and sustainability more probably, at a global level of data collection is self-reported data. So, say that’s collected through UNESCO. Right now, there is some and that’s it’s being used in some of the indicators related to education and sustainability currently.

Will Brehm  13:19
So, there’s a validity issue?

Marcia McKenzie  13:21
There’s a validity issue. So yeah, I mean, at least something that’s not you know, it’s good to also have things that are not self-reported, as well as the self-reported options. But then, even better, would be finer grained analysis, like, comparative case studies at a global level that can help us also inform our understandings of what makes quality climate change education that is able to kind of empower and lead to changed action and that’s culturally appropriate in different settings.

Will Brehm  13:53
What sort of examples can you point to like currently that we know about of, you know, quote, unquote, good policy into action. You know, things happening on the ground in schools or in a country?

Marcia McKenzie  14:07
Well, in the research, and I should say I direct the Sustainability and Education Policy Network, which is a partnership of international researchers and organizations. And so, we’ve been doing research in Canada the last number of years -comparative research there- and also doing some other global projects. But looking at the Canadian example, you know, BC is somewhere that stands out for its action around climate change and other sustainability issues in both K-12, and formal education as well as more broadly. And so, there’s a number of things that lead into or I think, support that activity. I mean, one just culturally, it’s on the west coast. It’s got more of a cultural prioritization. That’s led to different things like provincial mandates for carbon action plans within schools and then we’ve got, say the City of Vancouver, it has a green mandate with the municipal politics. So, all these things kind of coalesce together so that you see stronger policy and curriculum at say the Ministry of Education level, which would be where the curriculum is developed for the province as well as different school division levels, as well as at the post-secondary institutions -like UBC is well known for its sustainability work. So yeah, and there’s great organizations there as well like the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, has a BC branch that has developed great climate justice curriculum that a lot of teachers are using in schools.

Will Brehm  15:56
So, there’s a lot of work happening in that part of Canada and it seems like its government, its non-governmental, schools are involved, cities are involved. They have the green mandate in Vancouver. How much of that is connected to the sustainable development goals of the UN? Right? I mean, so, you know, is that something that’s happening because they’re doing it for their own sort of political economic reasons in Western Canada? Or is it a response from, “Oh, the SDGs, are here and we have to meet them?”

Marcia McKenzie  16:34
Yeah, it’s an interesting question and one of the things I’m really interested in is policy mobility. So how these things like the SDGs, where do they come from? And then what impact do they have in different countries or different regions? And I think there’s a couple of different things that could factor into uptake of the SDGs or, you know, what effect they’ve had. One is, you hear about organizations or governments, who keep doing what they’re doing but they kind of orient it to the “flavor of the day” or whatever. So, I’ve talked to organizations that are like, “Well, you know, we were doing education for sustainable development. Now, we’re going to do SDGs, you know, that’s what we put on our grant applications. But we don’t -our programs don’t change, but”. So, I think, there’s some of that, but at the same time, I think the global policy programs do have a big effect. And in some places like my province, where I live in Canada, in Saskatchewan, we’ve seen absolutely the effect of the UNESCO Decade of Education for Sustainable Development-

Will Brehm  17:47
In what ways, like how does it manifest?

Marcia McKenzie  17:50
So, you know, in 2009, there was a Minister’s mandate around environment, conservation, and sustainability. So, they were recognizing, okay, we need to be doing more on this. We need to get it into the curriculum. And then they talked to folks next door in Manitoba, where they had been working with education for sustainable development and the Deputy Minister there, at the K-12 level was involved in the Council of Ministers of education, which is sort of a national advisory body of all the provincial ministries, and he had been seconded to UNESCO, so you see this kind of flow through of actually, Gerald Farthing was deputy minister at the time in Manitoba, and other folks as well that are back and forth between UNESCO Paris and the ESD section there and different Canadian places and this would be parallel in some other countries. But then you get the flow through so that the Ministry of Education in my province is talking to Manitoba, and suddenly they bring in the same folks to do the training of educational leaders and the school divisions across the province in ESD.

Will Brehm  18:58
There is a policy flow, and does it go back to UNESCO? Like does the lessons and experiences of the teachers who are getting this training and putting it into practice, get sort of that knowledge get picked up and somehow is mobile back through the channels to UNESCO to inform the SDGs and what they do in other countries or how they conceptualize what you know, quote unquote good practice is?

Marcia McKenzie  19:22
Yes, I think that is the case that there’s some of that. We just got some new funding to do a study of three UN policy programs that have a focus on climate change education and when we were -we did some initial pilot interviews for that and talking to folks from different countries that have been involved with UN programs. Before we really heard from them about how through UNESCO people coming -there’s someone from Southern Africa that we interviewed, who was involved in the environmental education and ESD work there and through UNESCO people coming- to their meetings, they were able to give feedback on what was working or not working. Or priorities in different Southern African countries and to feel like that was taken back to UNESCO and then shaped kind of later renditions of things. So, I think there is some of that for sure.

Will Brehm  20:18
Yeah. And then I mean, then you the UNESCO Secretariat would have to sort of leverage that knowledge to push other countries in ways. I mean, it’s a very political process. Really, you know, for me, and that’s what’s so fascinating is how UNESCO has to -its member driven but that Secretariat also has a very sort of clear political agenda. And we just hope that they’re doing right, and they’re going to be successful. And, you know, they have a lot of power behind the SDGs in a way.

Marcia McKenzie  20:50
Yeah, it’s very interesting and kind of who is at the table of deciding what these policy programs are going to be, and different countries that support different policy programs like ESD had its origins in Japan, and Japan’s very supportive of UNESCO and so yeah, there’s a lot of interesting politics.

Will Brehm  21:11
Yeah. I mean, when I read SDG 4.7, you know, I mean, it’s like this “catch-all” indicator, or sub-indicator, and you see that education for sustainable development, the ESD, which definitely comes from Japan, that’s where I live. And so, it’s a really, really, really big thing. But then in Korea, as Aaron Benavot was telling me, it’s all about global citizen education. So how do they fit together? You know do they fit together? Or is it just, we’re using this discourse to please two different nation-states?

Marcia McKenzie  21:43
Yeah, it’s very interesting. I mean, global citizenship kind of came along, after, in kind of the work of UNESCO from what I understand, but they are both under one division. So, there’s a section of ESD and a section of global citizenship and they work together as colleagues and there’s a lot of overlap obviously, depending how you understand education for sustainable development, but it does definitely have social aspects in there that would overlap with some of the global citizenship priorities. So, you know, in some other work we’ve been doing -for a report that will be launched in June as well -a 10 countries study and looking at focus on ESD and global citizenship education across the education policies and curricula of 10 countries. And so, you can kind of see through that process, where there’s overlap, and which countries may focus more on the environmental aspects versus the social and citizenship aspects, and I don’t know why. I’m interested to find out more about that, in terms of the politics of the different countries, but I don’t think I can comment on that.

Will Brehm  23:02
No worries. It’s just that it’s so fascinating to see how these different -because it is a member-state organization. So, the member states have a lot of power, but the Secretariat is sort of managing all of this and so the politics in that sort of global level is really quite fascinating. And I think, quite hidden as well. And, you know, it’s very hard unless you are at that table, it’s very hard to know what is actually happening.

Marcia McKenzie  23:25
And I think my sense is that the UNFCCC is even more, so you know, really sees itself or is understood as meant to be neutral and facilitating the process for member-states. But the priorities or motions need to come from the member states. So, in talking to Adriana Valenzuela who’s the education focal point for the UNFCCC about how great it would be if we could get education data on the negotiating table, and she’s like, Oh, that sounds great, but we can’t bring that forward. It would need to be a member-state. So, it’s almost like I would need to maybe work with Environment Climate Change Canada to bring it to the negotiating table to then see if we could get it there. Whereas I think this seems to be a little -UNESCO doesn’t have that same framework of the COP meetings and, you know, decision making in what’s going to be included and, you know, nationally determined contributions being put forward under the Paris Agreement and everything it’s much more kind of technical than the UNFCCC.

Will Brehm  24:31
Yeah, yeah, right. I mean, it’s really quite fascinating. As an academic, I keep thinking like it would be so great to do like an ethnography of that global process.

Marcia McKenzie  24:40
Well, that’s what we’re trying to do. And we just got the funding to do it as well.

Will Brehm  24:46
You’ll have to come back on and tell me about it once you end up doing it. One of the things that I struggle with, with the SDGs and thinking about education for sustainability or, you know, to reduce climate change is the inclusion of economic growth in the SDGs. It’s one of the SDGs. It’s seen as what countries should be maximizing -having more growth, which, you know, will put more carbon into the air, which will ultimately make climate change even worse into the future. And at the same time, including all these environmental sustainability goals of trying to make the world more sustainable. And for me, those are contradiction. And I don’t know how education for sustainability will square that contradiction.

Marcia McKenzie  25:41
Yeah, there’s been discussion of that for sure. Because you could be say, moving forward climate action while increasing gender disparity, you know, so kind of the conversation that you need to be moving them all forward, not some at the expense of others, but that’s so hard to do with 17 priorities and never mind all the you know, I think it’s 169 target under the 17 goals. But it’s the same problem that we’ve had with sustainability before that or say education for sustainable development which a lot of people see as having at least three pillars, as they’re often called, of the social, the economic, and the environmental and oftentimes people would, or still do, separate those three out. So, in my province where this is a priority that I’ve had superintendents tell me, “Well yea, we’ve got it in the curriculum now, we do it in our school division and so if you’re doing economy, social or environment, you can tick that you’re doing ESD. So, basically everything humans would be concerned with has something to do with the social, or the environment. So, you know, it becomes meaningless. So, I think it is a challenge for the SDGs even more so in a sense because at least with three pillars, you can say, Okay, these need to be nested and you can’t have economic prosperity if it’s harming the environment or harming the social. Environment is the biggest and then social then economy are nested together. Whereas the SDGs with 17, it’s much more complicated.

Will Brehm  27:21
It seems like we need to have different definitions. Like so of the economic, what does economic prosperity mean? To me, it seems like we need a new way to define that rather than GDP per capita, for instance. Right. I mean, because if that’s the goal, then we’re going to sacrifice all these other things that we say we care about.

Marcia McKenzie  27:44
Yeah, there was a presentation yesterday on the OECD and one of the folks that have worked there in the past was talking about how they’re just starting to look at well-being indexes and that would be great to see more countries go that way sooner rather than later.

Will Brehm  28:04
Yeah. I mean, are you an optimistic person? Like, do you think that in these 10 years that we’re now saying is sort of the critical moment. So, for 2020-2030, for instance, do you think the global community is really going to be able to radically alter its practices through education?

Marcia McKenzie  28:30
Yeah. I don’t know. It may be through other means. You know, it’s been really interesting the last few months to see the school climate strikes and you know, from starting with one person that fell on everyone’s kind of minds and hearts and suddenly people are out there all over the globe doing climate action strikes in schools and so I think it you know, it’s, I hope that that type of activity will just build as we’ve all got it kind of weighing on us, but no one feels like they can do enough on their own. Obviously, our governments aren’t taking.

Will Brehm  29:10
Yea a lot of governments say go back to school. Don’t strike!

Marcia McKenzie  29:13
Yeah, yeah, exactly. So, I think education is as part of that, you know, potentially. The more we can do the better to give more people the skills to feel they can take action and make change and have the knowledge that they need and to be able to work together and all those things, but I mean, within the time frames, realistically, it’s going to have to be other things as well. Some of those people that are educated, mobilizing a lot of other people. So yeah, I don’t know. And I think it’s also a question of, you know, we always talk about climate change mitigation and adaptation. Well, what does climate change adaptation education look like right?

Will Brehm  29:43
And what would that be adapting to? You know, flooding everywhere, two degrees hotter everywhere.

Marcia McKenzie  30:01
Yeah. So, I think part of the key to the mitigation part too probably is -because it’s such an emotional, difficult issue that we need to be facing the impacts and how people around the world are already being devastated by the weather effects related to climate change, and so on.

Will Brehm  30:23
Yeah, I mean, like, how do you prepare? I mean, there’s already countless deaths happening due to climate change, and climate migration is happening all over the place already. And it’s only going to get worse. There’s going to be more deaths caused by climate change. You know, hundreds of millions or billions I, you know, it’s probably pretty hard if you’re a demographer to sort of calculate that out. Yeah, but some percentage of that will be children. It’ll be a lot of children that will end up dying. And so, the question is, like, you know, climate change adaptation education, you know, how do you teach the ability to grieve for that large number of people? I don’t know. I mean, it’s sort of this is why for me, it becomes a sort of like, existential moment.

Marcia McKenzie  31:05
Yeah, I know, I know, I have a 13-year-old daughter and I don’t actually talk to her very much about my work in this area. I mean, I tell her I do research and work on sustainability and climate change education, but I don’t go on at length about the outlook. But -through the climate school strikes- she learned more through some of her friends and came home just a couple of weeks ago in tears, you know, writing, drawing in her journal that we only have 12 years left, why isn’t anyone doing anything? And you know, it’s intense.

Will Brehm  31:41
That’s powerful. That seems to be what is needed. You know that sort of powerful, emotional response. Like a cliff that’s in the distance, that we can see. It’s coming into view.

Marcia McKenzie  31:57
And we were talking about what’s needed and how we need to change lifestyles and our expectations. We were talking about, “what would it be like to move into apartment?” she’s like, “well, that’s not a problem. Like, I’d rather say let’s move into an apartment rather than, you know, half the planet or worse goes extinct”.

Will Brehm  32:17
Yeah. Right. You’re willing to sacrifice some sort of luxuries now, knowing that it actually could -that is sort of that change in attitude that we were talking about earlier. Like maybe I shouldn’t be eating meat all the time and I shouldn’t be flying around the world.

Marcia McKenzie  32:35
But I think it’s one thing for people in their 40s or 60s or 80s. You know, you can think oh, gosh, is it going to be really bad for our kids or grandkids generation? But it’s another thing for a child to look forward and say, am I going to be able to live out my full life or is it going to be just a nightmare before then.

Will Brehm  32:59
And is that sort of conversation happening at the global level? Because to me, that seems to be the most important conversation to be having.

Marcia McKenzie  33:07
It is.

Will Brehm  33:10
But it is it being reflected in some of these sort of, you know, the global meetings on climate change and sustainability. And, you know, what we can do? Is that even being like -it’s certainly not an indicator. In no way is it an indicator of the SDGs.

Marcia McKenzie  33:23
Yeah, I mean, I think people are aware, and, you know, it’s the underlying passion. Someone like Aaron Benavot, who was director of the GEM report, Global Education Monitoring report. And, the last GEM report that he did had a focus on sustainability and was really fantastic, but you can tell he’s got that passion in him. And for a lot of people that are doing this work, they have that in them. You know, we all have hypocrisies, or tradeoffs, but, you know, that is driven by that desire to do change. But sometimes when you get together at a meeting, then you kind of take that as an assumption and just move on to trying to move things forward.

Will Brehm  34:15
Well, Marcia Mckenzie, thank you so much for joining FreshEd. Please come back on when you have more of this ethnography of what’s happening at the global level.

Marcia McKenzie  34:24
Great. Thank you very much for having me. Great to meet you.

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How can we think about inequality and education? My guest today, Mario Novelli, dives into the subject by looking at the role of schools in the production of inequality.

Since 2010, Mario has researched issues related to the role of education in peace building processes, working with UNICEF on a series of projects.

In our conversation, Mario not only details how modernity, capitalism, and colonialism combine to create systems of inequality inside school systems but also publicly struggles with his role in the production of inequality through his work in international educational development.

Mario Novelli is Professor of the Political Economy of Education and Director of the Centre for International Education (CIE) at the University of Sussex. His latest article discussed in this podcast can be found in the most recent issue of the British Journal of the Sociology of Education.

Citation: Novelli, Mario, Interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 41, September 12, 2016. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/marionovelli/

Will Brehm:  1:58
Mario Novelli, welcome to Fresh Ed.

Mario Novelli:  2:01
Thanks very much for having me.

Will Brehm:  2:03
The British Journal of Sociology of Education has put out a special issue on the work of the French economist Thomas Piketty, who wrote a pretty famous book in 2013 called Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century. And you have a piece in this special issue. What is Piketty’s main argument in Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century? And why does it warrant a whole issue of an education journal?

Mario Novelli:  2:33
Okay, well, Piketty’s book is a big one. And it really focuses around the rise of inequality over the last 200, 220 years.

And his central argument is that, unlike orthodox economic belief that as capitalism has developed, and as nations develop, inequality reduces. In fact, what he highlights is that, apart from a brief interlude between the first and second world war, inequality has tended to increase and what that leads into develop is a kind of the assertion of an economic law, which is that private wealth, inherited wealth increases faster than productive investment or economic growth.

And that has a tendency to increase inequality in the long run. And I think that for education, there are lots of implications, there are lots of implications around the role of education in the reproduction of inequality, the role of education in potentially redressing inequality and being in a sense an equalizing factor in society. So there are many dimensions that we thought in the special issue we might be able to explore. And as you know, my particular work focuses on the relationship between education and conflict. So I went a bit more deeply into that area.

Will Brehm:  4:11
And we will touch on that in a second. But first, just generally speaking, in your opinion, does Piketty have any weaknesses in his argument that you were able to uncover during your research?

Mario Novelli:  4:28
I mean, I think there are a lot of weaknesses, I would like to say that I think it’s a great book, I think it’s a really important book. And I think that in an accessible way, despite the length of the book, and he puts on the table, some really important ideas around issues of inequality, which for many years, has not been a problem for orthodox economists, inequality seems to be something that should be embraced as a natural part of economic development.

In terms of challenges, I think the first one is that Piketty is an economist. And although he’s much more open than neoclassical economists, his focus is firmly on the economic domain and economic inequality, which, for me, is important, but insufficient. I think, if we look at the history of popular movements, who have struggled against the inequality over the last 70 years, economic inequality is only one domain of confrontation, it’s a key domain. But nevertheless, it’s just one site of contestation, I think, what we need to explore are other modes of inequality alongside economic inequality, cultural, political, national, and their effects on genders, identities, political rights, human rights, etc. So I think, you know, the big area is the kind of narrow economism within which we approach inequality. So I think there are lots of more depth different dimensions to focus on.
The second thing, and I think this is linked to his empiricism, the focus on numbers on evidence that is attainable is that I don’t think that everything that is important can necessarily be measured, and not everything that’s measured is necessarily important. And I think that’s why theory matters, because theory sometimes helps us to get under the surface of things that we can’t see unequal structures, social classes, racism, things like that, that exists, but are not necessarily visible in, you know, the classic, countable ways of empiricism.
And I think, then, the third difficulty in Piketty’s work, or the third omission, at least for me, particularly, is his failure to explore the issue of imperialism, the role of the north and the south, slavery, the history of colonialism in the history of capitalist development. It’s as if capitalist development unfolded through economic laws. But actually, what we know is that capitalism has also unfolded through conquest, colonialism, etc.

Will Brehm:  7:03
It sounds like he misses some of the, my guess, more complex issues of inequality as a social and cultural phenomenon. But how does Piketty or does Piketty bring up the issue of education in his work?

Mario Novelli:  8:07
Well, I guess as an economist, it’s not surprising that Piketty sees education as a kind of an engine of growth. And potentially, I think, an engine of equity and the reduction of inequality. And, you know, that’s linked to his understanding of human capital. And the idea that we invest in education in order to improve both our own personal economic wealth, but also the wealth of the nation. Though, of course, this is challenged, the relevance of human capital theory is challenged by himself in the book, because essentially, what he’s arguing is that inherited capital, debt capital is more productive than economic growth and productive capital. So investing in education may not bring you the returns that it might want have brought. So even for the human capital theory, there is a problem at the moment in terms of the nature of capitalist development. So that’s really where his focuses on the returns of education in terms of economic development and economic growth.

Will Brehm:  9:33
In your opinion, what is the relationship between education and capitalism if it’s not human capital?

Mario Novelli:  9:42
Okay, well, I think human capital is part of the story. Let’s be clear about that. I’m not saying that human capital is not important. But I think that if we look at the relationship between education and capitalism, it’s much more complex. I guess, I would start with Roger Dale’s work of the 1970s Education and the Capitalist State, where you need to think about education’s relationship to accumulation ie human capital, social cohesion – the role of education systems in making different population groups get on or not, and also in legitimation, the role of education in making students accept the situation that they’re in, the state of affairs that exists in society. So in a sense, it has a legitimating effect. It has a social cohesion affect, it also has an accumulation effect. And as Roger always pointed out, these three dimensions are not necessarily compatible. So if you focus on accumulation, you may undermine social cohesion, through selectivity etc.

And you may undermine accumulation and social cohesion by focusing too much on the legitimation. So there are range of contradictions in that. So that’s the first area that I think is important to return to. And I think the second area which is a more modern phenomenon is that education is not just human capital, in the terms of self-investment, and the production or the role of education in economic growth.

Education has emerged as an important commodity in the late 20th century, early 21st century whereby it’s one of the fastest growing industries and we can see that the expansion of universities and international chains of schools, so education itself is a factor in economic exchange now and I think that needs to be explored in much more detail and is completely avoided in Piketty’s work, as Susan Robertson’s article in the same special issue focuses on.

The third area, and I think this is, again, really important is the area of inequalities, the role of education in reproducing inequalities. And I’m not just thinking about class and gender, which is a lot of the focus but also about the way education systems reproduce north south inequality, you know.

How is it that Sub Saharan Africa, for example, remains marginalized in terms of the international economy. And I would say that the role of education, education actors, the International architecture of education, delivery, and policy also plays its role in the reproduction of those inequalities. So there are different dimensions. So in a sense, Piketty importantly looks at one area, but I think that if you’re going to take education seriously, you have to look at it much more broadly.

Will Brehm:  13:21
I think it would be very interesting for listeners to hear more about how education can contribute to inequality because I think on the surface that doesn’t sit well with a lot of people, because they would see it as education is the way to achieve equality and to achieve progress.

Mario Novelli:  13:47
Yeah, that’s right. Well, I guess you know, the simplest terms, particularly if you have a Western if we’re thinking about a Western audience, is the way that education privileges some actors and undermines others, the inequality in the provision of education in my own country, in the UK, depending on your postcode, the qualities of schools are often highly differential.

The differentiation in your parents’ salary may determine what type of school you go to whether you go to a private school. So education, in that sense, acts as a filter for social class, whether you can afford a house in a nice area, a wealthy area where there are good schools, or you live in a poor area. So those dimensions, I think, reproduced himself around the world in a sense that education is often highly stratified. But there are also other dimensions of the way education reproduces inequality in terms of, for example, language.

The language issue is a big one whose language gets taught in countries and whose languages get marginalized and what is the effect of that on those that speak that marginalized language? How do they perform in schools? Do they perform less well? If so, what’s the effect of that in the long term? And then in terms of even the content, the curriculum content of schooling, let’s think about you are from a minority community in a particular country, and you’re learning about the heroes of that nation, and none of your communities are ever represented. They’re always representations from other communities, how does that make you feel? What does it lead to? So there’s a lot of ways that education can reproduce alienation. And of course, vice versa, a highly equitable, inclusive open education system may be able to smooth over some of those inequalities that are inherited through generation.

Will Brehm:  16:17
And is part of the inheriting through generations related to imperialism, as you said earlier?

Mario Novelli:  16:24
Yes, certainly, if you’re looking at, let’s take the exploration of the African curriculum, what we see is a legacy of colonial interventions into the national education system. So take a country like Kenya that inherited its education system, from years of colonial rule where there was a highly elitist education system where for the vast majority were excluded and the minority were selected to play roles in the civil service, a small elite, that model of education still carries on to reproduce a highly unequal class structure, often justified by education attainment, but actually pre-ordained through social class.

Will Brehm:  17:27
I’d like to shift gears here to look at some of your work in educational development, particularly in countries like South Sudan or Myanmar and some more of these conflict areas as you said earlier. What have you found how inequalities kind of manifest and function inside education in some of these conflict areas or countries that have experienced conflict?

Mario Novelli:  18:00
Right. Well, maybe I should take a step back. I think that development itself as a field is a highly contradictory field. On the one hand, international development has this idea within it of the rest catching up with the West. This idea that through the study of development, national ex-colonial states, postcolonial states will eventually catch up with the West. But at the same time, international development for other thinkers is a mechanism through which the chains of colonialism were the armies were replaced by new mechanisms, new chains, which with far less visible, not necessarily less powerful than the troops. And so I think that the field itself reproduces some of these dilemma wherever it goes in a sense, the question of, is international development, doing good?

And redressing some of these inequalities or actually, is it there to reproduce them in different modes in different ways. And I think that you see that all around, you know, you see, for example, in Sierra Leone, the role of the international peacekeeping community that came during the war, and after the war in the 1990s, massively increasing the cost of housing and accommodation in the central rise, forcing prices of food up as the international community intervenes in the conflict. And it’s those kinds of things, you know, some would say, the unintentional effects of intervention, which often reproduce or exacerbate inequalities and the same you can go for looking at international intervention in education systems, are they improving the system? Are they reducing inequalities? Or are they actually exacerbating those? And, you know, depending where you’re looking, you have different answers. I mean, Kenya, come back to Kenya, just because I’ve done work in there recently. And the British government defeat has been promoting low cost basic education for poor communities and private schooling for poor communities, which is it seems to be having a demonstrable negative effect on poor communities. And that’s being pushed by an international development agency in the name of doing good, but actually seems to be having devastating effects. So I think that when I teach students of international development, which I do every year, and I always kind of ask them at the beginning of the class, how they feel about entering the field of international development. And they always say, you know, we’re really pleased, we want to, you know, help in Africa, we want to help in Asia. And I say, well, I hope by the end of the course, that you feel a little bit ashamed as well. And that by the end of the course, you actually think that some of the things that have been done in the name of development are actually just as bad as some of the things that have been done in the name of war.

Will Brehm:  22:02
Is that how you feel?

Mario Novelli:  22:06
Ah yes, largely I mean, as I said, it’s a contradictory field. If I thought that it was only doing bad I wouldn’t remain inside the field. But there is a strong sense that like many other terrains, there is a battle going on, it’s the terrain of contestation, and you fight your battles inside that field, to push it in certain directions, and dependent on different social forces at different times, development moves in different directions, so take the 1980s and the global policy of structural adjustment that had an absolutely devastating effect on African and Latin American communities, massively increasing inequalities, and I don’t think anybody can say that that was a positive period.

But the reaction to that was a period of, let’s say, more social democratic approach, a range of different reforms, a range of different challenges to that model. Although I have to say that, you know, a lot of the remnants of that model still remain, particularly within some of the big institutions like the World Bank.

Will Brehm:  23:30
In your article, you say that you have to manage your existential angst when it comes to the contradictions of educational development. Do you have any tips for someone like myself, who does a little bit of work in international development as well and feel similar, conflicting kind of emotions working in that space?

Mario Novelli:  23:58
I think so. I mean, I am uncomfortable. And, you know, I’m happy to say that and I say it to everyone. But on the other hand, what I say to myself as well, in the field I work, which is on the relationship between education and conflict and violent conflict, if I didn’t engage with organizations and in the field, then I wouldn’t be able to make any commentary on it. So I kind of say that you have to, in a sense, get your hands dirty, in order to have some legitimacy in the debates that you’re entering into.

And so in a sense, I wouldn’t advocate for people not to engage, but they would engage cautiously. The second area, I think that’s important is to understand that institutions I’ve been working for UNICEF, I think, for the last seven years, more or less, most of my research time, which is about half of my time, my work time, for the last seven years, has been involved with UNICEF. And I think that what I’ve learned from that experience is that these institutions themselves are not homogenous, there are different actors, different processes going on. And in a sense, often what happens is, you get picked up by certain actors, they kind of know what they’re looking for, and pick people that think that they can deliver that. So in a sense, you get caught up in political battles that are going on in institutions, and you often get picked up and then dropped by these institutions. But I think that you can learn a lot. And I think the good thing about yourself, myself, if we’re academics, and not consultants, we’re not only as good as our last job, we have our own job to go back to, we can select, we can be a bit more selective about what we get involved in. And I think that, you know, the problem with full time consultants is that actually, they’re always looking for their next job. And so they’re always trying to please the people who are paying them. And I think that leads sometime to some complicity in the production of information and evidence. So I would say for people to engage when they engage, within a sense, real world research that they enter into that domain cautiously, and also recognize, you know, some of the constraints.

Will Brehm:  26:48
So part of this work that you’ve done kind of straddling both the researcher and the consultant practitioner in educational development is that you’ve ended up with your team, putting together a framework of trying to understand inequality and education in ways that are probably more robust and complex than those being put forward by others. Can you talk a little bit about your framework and the value that you think it has?

Mario Novelli:  27:22
Yeah, well, as you were saying, I’ve been leading or co-leading a Research Consortium between the University of Amsterdam and the University of Ulster, where we’ve been working in a range of different countries on the relationship between education and peace building. So when we came in, we had a lot of initial meetings around how would we conceptualize peace building in education, and then how would we apply that in the field to start analyzing different countries.

Now, that project began on the back of an earlier one that I did with Professor Alan Smith, between 2010 and 2012. And in that we looked at Lebanon, Nepal, and Sierra Leone, and explored the relationship between education and conflict. And through that analysis, we develop to critique of the international community’s approach to peace building. And the location of education there in which was essentially that the broad approach of the international community to peacebuilding was a kind of security first liberal peace approach. And I’ll just explain those very quickly. And essentially, the argument was that you need to have security before anything else can move forward. So you need to retrain the military, retrain the police, sort the prison system out and then the social development, education, health can come later. And this is also tied with an argument that there was a kind of process of the reconstruction of a conflict affected state that you need to have security, then democracy, then open the country to open the markets up, allow the economy to develop, and then eventually, the rest of this stuff will follow. And basically, our critique of that was that it produced a kind of negative piece, the violence stopped. But the reasons that underpin the violence often remained, and the things that underpinned that violence was often inequalities. So I remember that we went to rural villages in Sierra Leone and ask questions around, you know, 10 years after the peace process, what has peace brought? And often the response was very little. So communities largely saw little benefit from peace in terms of their material lives, their access to education, their access to water, etc. And what we argued was that that approach, while short termly successful in the long term was laying the seeds for another conflict, that they hadn’t addressed the reasons why the conflict broke out in the first place. And we see that reproduced in many parts of the world. So that’s our starting point to say that we need a more social peace building model and more health and education are important.

So from that, with the new research project that we’ve done over the last couple of years, we developed a kind of social justice plus reconciliation approach, which we called the four Rs.

We took the first three Rs from Nancy Fraser’s work on social justice: redistribution, recognition, and representation. So economic inequality, cultural inequality, and political inequality. And we also added the fourth R of reconciliation, which was basically that you needed to address the drivers of conflict, which were often economic inequality, political and cultural inequality. But after a period of war, you also need to bring communities together, you need to have process of reconciliation.

And in a sense, those are often in contradiction. On the one hand, if you want to address those inequalities, you have to upset people, you have to redress, redistribute, reorganize. If you try to reconcile people, you need to deal with the legacies of conflict, which means often bringing them together. So those four different Rs, those four different dimensions working together, provided us in a sense, with the kind of roadmap to explore different countries approaches to education, so allowed us to look at different dimensions of the education system, how much money is spent on the education system? Where does it go? How is it distributed? Who gets what, where? Why don’t others get more? It also allows us to look at recognition which cultures are rarified, which languages which histories which communities are marginalized. It allows us to ask about representation, political issues, who gets to make decisions about issues in the education system that affect them? Who are marginalized and excluded from those decisions? And then finally, what is the education system doing in terms of reconciliation in terms of bringing communities back together after war? Is the school an obstacle to that process of reconciliation or a facilitator for that? So we looked at those different dimensions, and then produced a range of Country Reports around that looking at different aspects of them. And, you know, all kind of heuristic approaches have their limitations. But I think that it’s had some important policy effects. It has been taken up by a range of different national governments, I’m thinking South Sudan and South Africa, in particular. So you know, I’m pretty pleased with that.

Will Brehm:  33:55
One of your critiques about Thomas Piketty earlier was that he focused on empiricism. And in a sense, he wasn’t taking a critical realist approach about trying to realize that there are, there’s a social ontology more than empiricism. So some things we can’t see that that are important, or structures that exist that determine behavior and action that can’t necessarily be seen. How does your framework include a critical realist perspective?

Mario Novelli:  34:34
Well, I mean, I think that that framework, the four R’s is only a beginning, in a sense that all it is this kind of coat hangers to hang different dimensions of injustices and inequalities on what matters then is how you theorize and understand the underpinnings of those inequalities. Yeah, how did they emerge? What are their drivers, and I think that’s why in the sociology paper that you talk about on Piketty, I’ve tried to talk about the interaction between capitalism, imperialism and modernity and the complex and into weaved ways that these three phenomena intersect to reproduce those inequalities.

Will Brehm:  35:29
Well, Mario Novelli, thank you so much for joining Fresh Ed. It was really wonderful to talk on so many different topics.

Mario Novelli:  35:35
Thank you very much for inviting me.

Will Brehm:  1:58
Mario Novelli,欢迎你做客FreshEd

Mario Novelli: 2:01
感谢邀请,乐意之至!

Will Brehm:  2:03
针对法国经济学家托马斯·皮凯蒂(Thomas Piketty)于2013年的著作《21世纪资本论》,《英国教育社会学杂志》出了一期特刊。作为特刊的撰稿人之一,可否总结一下皮凯蒂在《21世纪资本论》中的主要论点,以及它有何特殊之处会使得一本教育期刊专门出特辑讨论呢?

Mario Novelli:  2:33
好的。皮凯蒂的书是一部很重要的著作,他主要研究过去200到220年间不断加剧的不平等现象。
传统经济学认为随着资本主义的发展,国家的繁荣,不平等程度会随之降低。皮凯蒂指出事实上恰恰相反。他强调,除了一战和二战期间曾短暂缩小外,不平等现象正不断加剧,而这种趋势恰恰印证了一条经济学原理,那就是私人财富,即继承财富的增长速度远超生产性投资或整体经济增长。
从长远来看,不平等程度将进一步增加。我认为,这将会对教育产生很大影响,尤其是教育在不平等再生产的问题和消除不平等方面起到了许多作用,甚至在某种意义上扮演了社会平衡的角色。我们觉得有很多维度值得在这本特刊里讨论。而我的重点主要关注教育与冲突之间的关系,因此我深入研究了那一领域。

Will Brehm:  4:11
在讨论您的研究之前,我想先请教一下,你在研究过程中发现皮凯蒂的观点有何不足之处吗?

Mario Novelli:  4:28
我得说这是一本非常出色、非常重要的书。虽然很长,但通俗易懂。而且皮凯蒂提出了很多关于不平等问题的重要观点。多年来,在传统经济学家看来,不平等都不是什么大问题,似乎只是经济发展过程中自然而然的一部分。

但还是有很多值得推敲的地方。首先,皮凯蒂是名经济学家,虽然比大多数新古典经济学家要开放一些,但他的重点仍然放在了经济领域和贫富差距上,在我看来虽然重要,但还不够充分。如果我们回溯过去70年来反抗不平等的民众运动,就会发现,财富上的不平等虽然很关键,但也只是其中一个领域。除此之外,我们还需要探究其他领域上是否存在不平等,例如文化上的、政治上的、民族上的,以及这些不平等对性别、身份、政治权利、人权等方面的影响。因此,我们不能局限于狭隘的经济主义去讨论不平等,还有许多更有深度的角度。

第二点不足之处和皮凯蒂的实证主义主张有关,他很重视可量化的数字和证据。而我认为,并不是所有重要的都可被测量,而可被测量的并不一定都很重要。因此我更相信理论的重要性,因为理论能帮助我们透过现象看本质,深入到无形事物的表面之下,例如不平等的结构、社会阶层、种族主义等等,这些是传统的、可量化的实证主义未必能触及的存在。

我个人认为,皮凯蒂这本书的第三点不足或疏漏是他没有讨论到帝国主义问题、南北关系问题、奴隶制问题,以及资本主义发展进程中的殖民主义的历史。在他看来资本主义发展是遵循经济规律的产物,但实际上我们知道,资本主义同时也是通过征服和殖民的方式发展起来的。

Will Brehm:  7:03
听起来皮凯蒂似乎忽视了社会和文化现象上的、更复杂的不平等问题。那他在书中提到教育问题了吗?是如何提及的呢?

Mario Novelli:  8:07
皮凯蒂将教育视作一种可以带动增长,同时还可以潜移默化地促进公平,缩小贫富差距的引擎。作为一名经济学家,他有这样的想法并不足为奇,这正体现了他对“人力资本假说”的理解,即教育投资不仅能提高个人财富,同时也有利于国家财富的增长。当然,这一观点并不被看好,包括皮凯蒂本人也在书里对人力资本理论的相关性表示质疑。因为,从根本而言,他主张遗产资本和债务资本的生产力要比经济增长和生产资本更高,因此教育投资未必能收获所期望的回报。即使是人力资本理论,目前在资本主义发展的根本属性上也依然存在问题。总而言之,皮凯蒂真正研究视阈是经济发展中的教育回报问题。

Will Brehm:  9:33
如果人力资本理论无法解释,那么还可以用什么来解释教育和资本主义之间的关系呢?

Mario Novelli:  9:42
需要澄清的是,人力资本是一方面,我并不否认其重要性,但教育和资本主义之间的关系要复杂得多。首先,我想引用一下罗杰·戴尔(Roger Dale)的观点,他于上世纪70年代发表的《教育与资本主义国家》一文中反思了教育与资本积累的关系(即人力资本)、教育与社会凝聚力的关系(即教育系统能否起到使不同人群和谐相处的作用),以及教育与合法性的关系(即教育使学生接受他们所处地位与社会现状)。所以,从某种意义上说,教育具有正当合法、凝聚社会和积累资本的作用。罗杰一直表示这三点未必能兼得。比如,如果强调资本积累,那么社会凝聚力可能会因为择优性而受损。如果过分强调合法性,那么资本积累和社会凝聚力也会被削弱。这其中有很多重矛盾。这是我认为第一个值得回顾的重要观点。

第二点是一种比较新的现象,即在自我投资和生产方面,或者说教育在经济增产中的作用不仅是人力资本,而是成为一种重要的商品形式。自20世纪末至21世纪初,教育是发展最快的行业之一,大学和国际学校不断扩张。因此如今,教育本身也变成了经济交换的一种形式。这一点需要更加深入仔细的研究,但正如我们的特刊中苏珊·罗伯森(Susan Robertson)强调的,皮凯蒂的书里完全忽略这一点。

第三点同样非常重要的是不平等领域,即教育在不平等再生产方面的作用。我指的不仅是已有广泛关注的阶级和性别不平等,还有发达国家与发展中国家间的不平等。例如,为什么撒哈拉沙漠以南的非洲地区会在国际经济中处于边缘位置,我认为教育本身、教育从业者、国际教育架构、授课方式和政策等各种不同因素都在不平等再生产中发挥了作用。因而从某种意义上而言,皮凯蒂只观察到其中一个方面。但我认为,要认真对待教育只有从更广泛的角度入手才行。

Will Brehm:  13:21
我觉得大多数人认为教育可以实现平等和进步,所以对于教育反而加剧不平等这一观点,听众朋友们乍一听或许会不太认同,但这是一个很有意思的话题,可否再多解释一下?

Mario Novelli:  13:47
的确如此。假设你是一位来自西方国家的听众,用最简单的话来说,教育会使得某些人享有特权,而其他人的权益则会受到损害。比如,在我自己的国家英国,教育供给是很不均衡的,不同地区的学校在质量上有天壤之别。而父母的收入可能决定了孩子可以就读何种类型的学校,是否能上得起私立学校。如果有能力在高档的富人区买房,那么就能上好的学校,反之在贫穷的地区教育质量也不会太好。因此,在这个层面上,教育充当了社会阶层过滤器的角色。

我认为,现在世界范围内,不论从什么层面,教育都是在高度分化的。另一个教育加剧不平等的层面就是语言。语言是一个很复杂的问题,国家课程里教什么语言,哪些语言被边缘化了,对那些使用边缘化语言的人群有什么影响,他们在学校表现如何,是否表现不太好,长此以往又有何影响?还有例如课程内容也会加剧不平等。试想一个来自少数族群的学生,学习自己国家历史时发现没有一个自己民族的英雄,都是其他民族的人物,这个学生该如何做想,会产生什么后果?总而言之,教育的异化方式有很多。当然,反之,一个高度平等、包容和开放的教育系统也许会缓和这些代代相传的不平等。

Will Brehm:  16:17
这种代代相传的不平等和你之前提到的帝国主义有关吗?

Mario Novelli:  16:24
这是肯定的,研究过非洲国家的课程体系就会知道,很多国家教育系统中都有殖民干涉的痕迹。拿肯尼亚举例,多年被殖民统治的历史使得其发展出一套高度精英化的教育体系,旨在将大多数人排除在外,只有少部分精英被挑选出来进入政府部门。这种教育模式进一步再生产了高度不平等的社会结构,看似公正的学历制度其实早就由社会阶层决定好了。

Will Brehm:  17:27
你之前提到你的研究方向是教育发展与冲突,那接下来可以谈谈你在教育发展方面的成果吗?尤其是在像南苏丹、缅甸这样的冲突地区。你认为在这些冲突不断的国家和地区,不平等是如何在教育中体现和发挥作用的呢?

Mario Novelli:  18:00
首先退一步讲,发展作为一个研究领域本身是一个非常矛盾的。一方面,国际发展中内含的一个思想就是世界上其他国家要向西方看齐。在这种思想指导下的研究认为,前、后殖民地的民族国家最终都能追赶上西方。但同时另一方面,也有人认为国际发展是一种新型的殖民主义,新的机制,新的“食物链”取代了过去军事力量的殖民,虽然不太明显,但威力不减。因此,这一领域本身就陷入囹圄,让人不禁发问,国际发展真的是对的吗?它到底是帮助消灭了国家间的不平等,还是变相地加剧了这些不平等?例如塞拉利昂,1991年爆发内乱后,国际社会的介入,维和部队的驻扎,使得粮食和房屋价格大幅上涨。诸如此类的事情屡见不鲜,这些影响虽说是无意中造成的,却往往复制和加剧了不平等的程度。

同样,国际社会对教育系统的干预是有利还是有弊?不平等到底是缩小了,还是扩大了?关于这一点,不同国家的情况还不尽相同。再拿我最近在研究的肯尼亚举例,自从脱离英国殖民统治后,在国际发展组织出于善意的推动下,肯尼亚致力于推行针对贫困社区的低成本基础教育和私立学校建设,然而这对贫困人口有着显著的负面影响和毁灭性打击。

每年教国际发展课的时候,我都会在课程开始前问学生们一个问题:“你们对于进入国际发展领域有何感想?”有学生说很开心,有人想要帮助非洲,还有人想帮助亚洲。而我告诉他们:“希望在课程结束的时候,你们会一点点惭愧。一些你们以为冠着发展的名头做的事,实际上和战争做的事一样糟糕!”

Will Brehm:  22:02
这是你的感想吗?

Mario Novelli:  22:06
很大程度上我是这么想的。不过就像我前面说过,国际发展是一个矛盾的领域。如果只有不好的一面,我就不会还继续留在这里了。我有种强烈的感觉,和很多其他学科一样,这各领域内正在进行着一场战斗,不同力量间彼此对垒、各自为战。随着不同时期的不同社会力量,发展也朝着不同方向移动。例如上世纪80年代的全球结构性调整政策,对拉丁美洲和非洲国家带来沉重打击,大大增加了不平等,我敢说没有人认为那是一个积极的时期。但也不可否认的是,这一模式也带来更多的社会民主,各种各样的改革,以及不同的反思和挑战。然而,我不得不说,这种模式仍然可以在一些大型组织,例如世界银行的做法中能经常看到。

Will Brehm:  23:30
你在文章中提到,每当遇到教育发展的矛盾时,你都必须要管理自己的焦虑情绪。我自己有时也会做一点关于国际发展的工作,也有这种类似的矛盾情绪。对于像我这样的研究者,你有什么建议吗?

Mario Novelli:  23:58
我同样感觉不是很自在,而且我很乐意告诉别人这一点。但另一方面,我也告诉自己,要想进行教育和暴力冲突之间关系的相关研究,就要不怕“弄脏手”。如果不参加那些组织,不与他们交流,是不能往下评价的。只有真正进入了这一领域,才有资格讨论。所以第一点,我不会劝阻他们,而是希望他们要慎重。

第二点我认为很重要的是要理解你所在的机构。我在过去七年时间里都是在联合国儿童基金会(UNICEF)工作,几乎投入了我全部的研究时间,占所有工作的一半左右。我从这段经历里发现,并不是所有机构都是一样的,不同的机构扮演的角色不同,过程也有所差异。经常发生的是,你可能会被某个组织选中,他们知道自己要的是什么,因而选出他们认为可以实现这一目标的人。从某种意义上而言,你就陷入了机构的政治斗争中去了。他们可能选中你,也可能放弃你。这中间有很多值得学习的地方。

而像我们这些研究者有一点好,那就是我们是学者,不是顾问,所以不用受限于要不断在工作上保持优异的表现,因为我们可以回归自己的本职工作,这就给了我们一些选择的空间,我们能挑选哪些工作是我们想做的。而全职顾问的难处在于,他们永远要寻找下一份工作,因此他们就要努力取悦付给他们薪水的人。这会使信息和证据的可靠性变得复杂起来。总而言之,对于想要踏入真实世界的研究者来说,我建议要小心谨慎、认清局限。

Will Brehm:  26:48
你既以一个研究者的身份,同时也是一名从事教育发展顾问事业的实践者。你和你的团队提出了一个更强大而复杂理论框架,来解释不公平和教育。你可否介绍一下这个框架,以及它的价值吗?

Mario Novelli:  27:22
就像你说的,我率领着一个阿姆斯特丹大学和阿尔斯特大学合作的研究联盟,是共同负责人之一,我们的联盟致力于研究各个国家的教育与和平建设的关系。所以在项目启动时,我们开了很多次初步会议,讨论应该如何构架“教育中的和平建设”这一概念,以及如果将其运用到不同国家的分析中去。

这次的研究联盟是基于我和阿兰·史密斯教授的一个早期项目。2010年到2012年间,我们调查了黎巴嫩、尼泊尔和塞拉利昂,研究教育与冲突的关系。通过那次调研分析,我们对国际社会现有的和平建设方法进行了批判。而与教育相关的研究基本上也遵循了这种以安全优先的自由主义和平的方式。我简单解释一下。这种方式主要是说安全是其他一切的前提,因此需要重新训练军队和警察,梳理监狱体系,在此基础上才开始社会发展,教育和医疗卫生等建设。与其相关的观点是受冲突影响的国家重建有一个过程,首先必须保证安全,其次是民主,然后要有开放的市场环境允许经济发展,最后才到其他方面。

我们认为这种方式有其消极的一面,即虽然暴力冲突停止了,但是造成暴力的原因依然存在,这个原因往往就是不平等。我记得在塞拉利昂农村,我们和当地人交流的时候,问他们十年和平都带来了什么变化,通常得到的答案却是没什么。大部分人并不认为和平在提高生活水平、增加教育机会和获取水资源等方面有积极作用。所以,我们认为短期内这种方式是成功的,但长期来看却会导致另一种冲突,世界各地都有类似的例子证明了这一点。因此,需要一个更加社会化的和平建设模式,更加重视教育和卫生,这是我们的出发点。

我们这个新的研究项目就着眼于此,在过去两年中,我们开辟了一种社会正义与和谐的途径,称之为“4R”。其中,三个R来自南希·弗雷泽对社会正义的研究,即再分配(Redistribution)、认可(Recognition)和代表(Representation),分别对应了财富不平等、文化不平等和政治不平等。第四个R是调和(Reconciliation),这是解决以上三个冲突成因的关键。因为战争结束后,要想把不同人群凝聚在一起,就需要有调和的过程。这中间往往存在着矛盾,一方面,如果要解决不平等问题,就需要重新调整、重新分配、重新组织,会惹恼一部分人;而如果要使人们握手言和,就必须解决冲突的遗留问题。

我们的4R框架首先可以将四个不同方面整合起来,可从多维度探索不同国家的教育体系。例如,财政在教育方面的支出有多少?都用在什么方面?是如何分配的?谁得到了什么?在哪里?为什么其他人没有?其次,这个框架还能帮我们认出已经稀释化的文化,以及被边缘化的语言、历史和人群等。第三,它还涉及政治和代表问题,例如谁掌握了教育系统的决策权?谁被边缘化或隔绝在外?最后,它还能探索教育系统对战后的国家团结的作用,学校会阻碍还是促进这一调和过程?研究了这些不同方面后,我们生成了一系列相应的国家报告。当然,凡是启发式方法都有局限性,但我认为我们的成果还是对政策制定起到了一定的重要作用,有很多国家采纳了我们的报告,尤其是南苏丹和南非。对此我非常高兴!

Will Brehm:  33:55
你之前指出托马斯·皮凯蒂的不足之一就是他的实证主义主张,也就是说他没有采用批判现实主义的方法,未能意识到在实证之下还有社会本体的存在,这产生的问题就是,我们无法观察到一些重要的东西,比如决定人们行为的某些现存结构。那你的4R框架是如何涵盖批判现实主义角度的呢?

Mario Novelli:  34:34
我们的框架仅仅是一个开始,就像是一个衣架,上面挂着各种研究不正义和不公平的方式,然后更重要的是形成相关理论来理解这些不公平背后的基础。例如,不平等是如何出现的?有哪些推动力量?这也是为什么在之前谈到的那篇关于皮凯蒂的社会学论文里,我试图阐释资本主义、帝国主义和现代主义之间的相互作用,以及这三种错综复杂交织在一起的现象是如何再现不平等的。

Will Brehm: 35:29
Mario Novelli,很高兴能聊到这么多的话题,感谢你的分享!

Mario Novelli: 35:35
感谢邀请,也是我的荣幸!

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