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[Translated from Des “TICE” vues comme symptôme de la perte du capital scolaire. Please note that due to lack of time, I don't translate my posts myself and usually do not review translations, so they may not be fully accurate and/or present some imperfections. Thierry]
“School Capital” is a term originally used by Bourdieu and has NOTHING to do with the economical sense of the word “capital”.
“School capital” rather means “quality of education” or “school quality”, this term taking into consideration the quality of teaching, and the quality and level of students.
So in fact, “Loss of school capital” is just a little pompous way to talk about the decline of the overall educational level.
I use these terms because they are Bourdieu’s, who inspired my thoughts for this ticket (if I wasn’t that modest, I would tell you I had precursors, but in fact, I just need to have more credible references than myself).
Information technologies are presented to us as the future, the panacea, the symbol of tomorrow’s education. Technologies that will create jobs, awaken our children and so on (I stop here, as other clichés fail me).
But to some extent, they are just symptoms of the deterioration of the quality of education.
It’s a situation that I quite frequently encounter. Some examples:
- Eric Delcroix writes on his blog why he refused to let his daughter register to a special IT centric classroom. To summarize in one line: he saw brand new equipement with NOTHING behind. No suport, no followup, no competency, no IT insight. At the end, all that costly equipment (costly in capital, but failing to provide any school capital) was there only to hide the huge vacuity of the educational project.
- The budgets of the french National Education are being sized down and the number of teachers decreases. But at the same time, all IT investments (language labs, IT resources, Interactive whiteboards…) are being showed off. This “show-off effort” indeed hides the average decline of our school capital.
- French politicians (Mayors, Senators, President of general or regional councils and even ministers) now inaugurate interactive whiteboards ! I found a dozen newspaper articles on this subject in the last weeks. Unsurprisingly, the speech they deliver is always the same (finally a left/right consensus!). They speak about the future of the nation where IT are keys, of the reduction of the digital fracture (does it only exist ?). Again, nothing new – and even sometimes just nothing at all – under the sun. Agin, all this just masks a complete absence of real projects and vision.
- The country where education has been the most disorganized in the last 10 years, the UnitedKingdom, is almost 100% equipped with interactive whiteboards (more than 400,000 IWB in schools, less than 15,000 in France). (Not to mention that that some people in France want to copy this !). The real reason is that Tony Blair’s reforms created intense competitions between UK schools so schools must display “visble signs” of school capital rather than really possess any. Again, a symptom.
Bourdieau always, in “La noblesse d’état”:
The logic that drives the schools that lack school capital the most[...] finds a counterweight that requires an effort in accumulating educational capital, event at the price of an ostentatious exhibition of the exterior signs of pedagogical avant-gardism: for example by deploying treasures of modernist inventions, both in terms of equipment, language laboratories, computer resources, audiovisual equipment… and in terms of pedagogical techniques, that are always presented as more active, more modern, more international.
Keep in mind that my post is written by someone who strongly believes that Information Technologies can help and be useful – as long as they have a meaning.