Education, Competition, and Cultural Development

  • Willem WardekkerEmail author
Part of the Cultural Psychology of Education book series (CPED, volume 10)


The insights into the natural and social worlds that may be learned in schools enable students to understand the world and their own position in it in a more complex and deeper way. However, such results cannot be accomplished by “learning” in the sense of being able to come to the predetermined right answer. Rather, learning in this sense involves a long-term process in which the student relates the new ideas to his or her own existence in past, present, and (projected) future. Learning is always at the same time personality development, and it implies emotional and moral as well as intellectual aspects. This kind of learning is threatened by the development of the school under conditions of neoliberal thought. The “hidden curriculum” of neoliberalism teaches students that competition, success, and consumerism are (morally) good. Do we have ways to counteract the consequences of such schooling, while retaining its positive value? We could look at non-western systems of education that give less emphasis to formal schooling and pay more attention to the formation of “good” persons. However, in many cases, this is a person that is well adapted to the mores of a more or less stable society. Or we could connect schools more to the local cultures. But not all knowledge and insights in that culture are of the quality that is needed. Can we devise a school that is culturally sensitive and provides possibilities for significant educational experiences without falling back behind the best insights that a global civilization has to offer?


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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