ABSTRACT

This chapter is a reiteration and an extension of a theme which has been running through this book, that reality speaks louder than rhetotic, and that explicit teaching must be congruent with implicit learning if education is to be successful. Educators are apt to forget this and concern themselves with aims or the content of what is taught rather than the more difficult problem of what is learnt. It would be simplistic to attribute this to their vested interest in the extension of schooling. Nor should one forget that with the spectacular failure of mass secondary schooling in the rich urban areas of the metropolitan countries many educators have been forced to ask fundamental questions (among them Reimer, Illich, Holt, Goodman, and perhaps the closest to the marxism explicated here, Friere). The marxist criterion of educational success being the self-conscious, self-determining man, the question is to what extent experience of the social-political reality encourages the development of such a man and to what extent it frustrates it. To what extent does reality produce open, questioning minds interested in a wide variety of subjects, and to what extent does it foster closed, incurious minds shut into the confines of parochial conservatism? To what extent does it reinforce the ruling ideology and to what extent does it suggest contrary ideas? Does it foster co-operation or competition? Some aspects of this problematic have been studied by non-marxist scholars under the rubric of political culture, ox political socialisation, though so far rather little has been done on either the USSR or China. (J.W. Lewis has a chapter on China in J.S. Coleman, Education and Political Development; Myrdal, 1963;Lifton, 1967;Barnett, 1967; Solomon, 1971; and the Harvard Project, reported variously by Inkeles and Bauer, are all relevant.)

Political culture has been variously defined. For Roy Macridis it is 'the commonly shared goals and commonly accepted rules'; for Samuel Beer it is 'values, beliefs, and emotional attitudes about how government ought to be conducted and about what it should do'; while for Dennis Kavanagh it is 'the emotional and attitudinal environment within which the political system operates' (Kavanagh, p. 10). Sidney Verba gives a definition which is even more pertinent to our present purpose:

As we use the term 'political culture' it refers to the system of beliefs about patterns of political interaction and political institutions. It refers not to what is happening in the world of politics, but what people believe about these happenings. And these beliefs can be of several kinds: they can be empirical beliefs about what the actual state of political life is; they can be beliefs as to the goals or values that ought to be pursued in political life; and these beliefs may have an important expressive or emotional dimension. (Pye and Verba, p. 516)

Some aspects of this question have already been discussed in relation to the family, schools, youth organisations, the army, and work in the economy. This chapter will consider briefly other important agents of political education whose implicit teaching requires elucidation. The Communist Party has so far only been considered as an explicit educator. Also important are the State legislative organs, the Soviets in the USSR and People's (Revolutionary) Congresses in China; the State bureaucracies of ministries, local departments and other agencies; agents of the law and Public Security; and the trade unions and other mass organisations. All that will be attempted is to point to some aspects of these various agents which appear to be influential, and to the kinds of evidence which is available on which judgement might be based. Student self-government will be briefly discussed as an early experience of political realities and evidence touching on the question of class differences cited in order to show the kinds of evidence and the problems it presents.