Quote of the Week

Hayek

It is incredible given the current debates around Common Core how much has not changed since Hayek’s time of writing his seminal book, The Constitution of Liberty in the early 1960s. This is evident in his chapter covering the role of government in education and research when he writes,

Even if education were a science which provided us with the best methods of achieving certain goals, we could hardly wish the latest methods to be applied universally and to the complete exclusion of others – still less that the aims should be uniform. Very few of the problems of education, however, are scientific questions in the sense that they can be decided by any objective tests. They are mostly either outright questions of value, or at least the kind of questions concerning which the only ground for trusting the judgment of some people rather than others is that the former have shown more good sense in other respects. Indeed, the very possibility that, with a system of government education, all elementary education may come to be dominated by the theories of a particular group who genuinely believe that they have scientific answers to those problems should be sufficient to warn us of the risks involved in subjecting the whole educational system to a central direction.

Thus, one of Hayek’s main concerns with the a predominate role of government in education was centralized control over the methods of instruction and shutting down any diversity and innovation in teaching methods, even going so far as to indicate that at best such control could invariably lead to a stultifying “scientific” uniform approach to education, and at worst, would lead to a dictatorship of mind control, thus repressing freedom of the mind.  Hayek’s policy prescriptions in the face of such negative consequences, while recognizing the need to still educate one’s citizens and children, was that it is proper for government to mandate children’s education and to provide resources for the truly indigent, but otherwise allow parents and children to choose which manner of education was most suited to them, and conversely for their to be a proliferation of education options that provided a diversity of instructional methods.

 

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