Conformism and Education. How Should Schools Educate?

Author: Sándor Karikó
Institution: University of Szeged
Year of publication: 2005
Source: Show
Pages: 23-33
DOI Address:
PDF: tner/200503/tner702.pdf

More and more books, studies and articles have been warning us recently that we are experiencing a period of history in which conformism is increasing in prevalence; as if conformism was becoming the underlying principle of social and institutional existence and adaptation. Similarly, this phenomenon is present in the field of education, what is more, the easily conformable student has become a general ideal. Education seems to prefer mass production of students who are compliant and obedient. We are no longer surprised when we encounter phrases such as the NAT (NAT: Nemzeti Alaptanterv: National Curriculum) -compatible curriculum, EU-compatible education and management, or a Euro-compatible value system. It is clear that teaching and education are constantly facing the problem of conformism. Considering this, it is sad and incomprehensible that educational psychology is so insensitive to this topic and that different educational superstitions have such a strong hold in the fields of educational politics, research and pedagogical practice. For the sake of differentiated education it is time we considered the original meaning of conformism and the dilemma of conformism/non-conformism. The American liberal thinker, William Penn, pointed out three hundred years ago that citizens give up their freedom and culture. Ernst Fischer summarised that in the statement: conformism is the submersion of Self in Everyman. From this original and classical definition we can conclude that conformism, no matter how fashionable and powerful it may be, is a pejorative and extreme phenomenon. In and through conformism an individual gives up his/her autonomy and always adjusts his/her opinion and behaviour to something else. We also have to understand that non-conformism is not a positive alternative to conformism. Conformism means adapting without conviction, and likewise, non-conformism is not-adapting without conviction. Both are harmful and extreme forms of behaviour, neither can exceed the other. So education has to fight against both the compliant, obedient, i.e. conforming student and the rebellious youth, who always says no for the sake of saying no. Our goal is to help, with much more efficiency than before, the development of the process whereby the youth will acceptingly reject and at the same time rejectingly accept the influences of the world.


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