Keep on the Move
All serious-minded people are supposed to possess a hinterland, but not all do. David Halpin was one who did. During a career spent in education, teaching in schools and universities, he was also a Labour Party activist, a make-believe Irishman, a passionate appreciator of classical music, an enthusiastic cyclist, an obsessive bibliophile, and a philosophical theist. These less well known facets of David’s life feature in this self-published memoir, which also includes reflection on what he achieved as a public educator and an assessment of his character and personality.
Set within the doom and gloom currently surrounding education, this text argues that we need utopias in education today. The central argument of this book is that utopias have the capacity to project a special degree of optimism – a measure of hope that acts as a motivation to action as well as providing direction to it.
The author contends that we need to adopt “utopian realism”, which is a form of utopianism which seeks to combine the capacity to be experimental and innovative with a sensitive appreciation of the limits and potentialities for social change.
In this original book, David Halpin argues that an understanding of the Romantic roots of progressive education is a necessary condition for restoring to critical consciousness some important, but currently neglected, basic ideas about teaching and learning – ideas about the importance of imaginative experience and its promotion; ideas about the high status that should be conferred on childhood; ideas about the importance of love and friendship in schooling; ideas about the positive role that heroism can play in making learning more effective; and ideas about viewing teaching as a critical vocation.
This book examines recent school reforms in England and Wales, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden. It suggests that, at the same time as appearing to devolve power to individual schools and parents, governments have actually been increasing their own capacity to ‘steer’ the system at a distance. Focusing particularly on the ‘quasi-markets’ favoured by the New Right, the authors review the research evidence on the impact of the reforms to date. They conclude that there is no strong evidence to support the educational benefits claimed by their proponents and considerable research which says they are enabling advantaged schools and advantaged parents to maximize their advantages. They argue that, if these damaging equity effects are to be avoided, there is an urgent need to redress the balance between consumer rights and citizen rights in education.