Wednesday, August 20, 2014

David P. Baker's "The Schooled Society"

David P. Baker is Professor of Education and Sociology, and a research scientist at the Center for the Study of Higher Education and the Population Research Institute at Pennsylvania State University. He is coauthor of National Differences, Global Similarities: World Culture and the Future of Schooling with Gerald LeTendre, and a frequent contributor to scholarly journals on education.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Schooled Society: The Educational Transformation of Global Culture, and reported the following:
“Ice Cream, Women’s Studies, and the MBA.” If you look at Page 99 of The Schooled Society you’ll find the first page of Chapter 5, which is titled “Constructing Reality: Ice Cream, Women’s Studies, and the MBA.” Just below this trio, you’ll find a quote that prefaces the body of the chapter and captures the essence of the book.
From the fuel economy of cars to getting pregnant, from stealth technology in war to teenage rebellion [all are] to be understood in a day-to-day basis around basic natural-scientific understandings. The process at work here is the reverse of that which gave rise to the applied sciences over the century. In [that] case, society penetrated university sciences ... now [university] sciences penetrate society.
--David Frank and Jay Gabler, Reconstructing the University (2006)
Rather than thinking of education as the systematic discovery or rote memorization of knowledge, I argue that we should think of education as an institution that penetrates and changes broader society. While universities responded to outside forces, they also independently invent new fields of study that shape culture and our shared sense of meaning that in turn reshape other institutions of society. For example, the popular fields in Women’s Studies and Business Administration in the latter half of the 20th century were more a creation of an academic process in conjunction with social trends, than the university just responding to outside social change. In doing so, universities legitimated these fields and changed society. As a field, Women’s Studies helped foster new knowledge and changed conceptions of equity and changed the way we talk and think about gender—leading to the founding of new academic departments around the world.

Similarly, universities created the Master’s in Business Administration degree. The MBA has, in turn, become part of the formalization of knowledge in the fields of business and economics, in a sense making the language of theoretical behavioral and social science its basic paradigm for management of large organizations of all kinds. The effects of business education even reach to the way we think about how we should run non-profits, public services, and governments (the credibility of business leaders such as Mitt Romney and Michael Bloomberg as qualified stewards of our governments comes to mind).

These are just two examples of the effects of education on our society. Throughout the book I explore how over the last century, education has become an institution that affects health, economics, religion, and politics around the world. We often forget that only 100 years ago, most of the world’s population was illiterate. As education has become universal, the positive effects of education have spread across the globe—and the world is a better place because of it.
Learn more about The Schooled Society at the Stanford University Press website and David Baker's research website.

--Marshal Zeringue