miércoles, 30 de enero de 2019
Inger Enkvist and the sociology of education
Inger Enkvist and the sociology of education
A few days ago a book by Inger Enkvist entitled Rethinking Education fell into my hands (published by Ediciones Internacionales Universitarias in 2006). According to Wikipedia, Enkvist is a "Swedish hispanist and pedagogue" who "has published essays on the evils of education and teaching in contemporary Europe". I have only read a few pages of this book, which, as will see, shows the reckless intellectual insolvency of this author.
Enkvist complains that today's school leads to ignorance. Paradoxically, she herself seems to be an example of such a deficiency. I will be exclusively focusing on the epigraph entitled "The sociology of education". According to this author, the sociology of education is "a current of thought" and not, as it would be expected, a branch of a science called sociology. Not satisfied with it, she says that the "theoreticians of this current are, in the first place, Foucault and Bourdieu, who begin to become famous around 1968". To say this is a clear sign either of ignorance or simply of bad intention. Not in vain, the author pretends -or at least that I believe- to consider sociology of education to be a by-product of what for her must be the daydreams of May 1968. To begin with, and in spite of being a very quoted author in sociology and many other social sciences, Foucault is not a sociologist. On the other hand, Bourdieu is a classic of sociology, but considering him, together with Foucault, as the theoretician of the sociology of education is proof that this author has not even consulted Wikipedia.
As it could be expected, the nonsense does not end here. According to Enkvist, "sociologists are not usually interested in school performance, but rather in the study of students as members of a particular social class”. Once again, our author has no qualms about flaunting her ignorance. It is difficult to understand how she might say that sociology is not interested in studying school performance, despite the overwhelming evidence against such an assertion. But even worse is to consider that for sociology the only focus of inequality is the social class, which implies disregarding the inequalities derived from gender - I don't know if this word will be to Enkvist's liking - from belonging to one ethnic group or another or from the area of residence, to name a few.
Later on, our author seem to add insult to injury. This is what she says: "It could be said that students with problems are its favourite clients". I don't know if she considers that sociologists usually have a law firm, in the style of lawyers, or a psychological office in which to deal with these clients. Since they are people with problems, it could be assumed that most of them will have a low level of income. If so, it would be unclear where the business that is awarded to sociologists might be.
I say no more about the book. What worries me is that some of our elite consider Enkvist's analyses to be worthy of consideration. In fact, she was one of the speakers who took part in the debate - I suppose at the request of the Partido Popular - on the education pact organised by the Spanish Congress of Deputies’ Education Commission that took place throughout 2018. A few months ago she was the subject of a long interview by the influential newspaper El País. She took part in the presentation of a book written by sociologist Víctor Pérez-Díaz and members of his team that took place at the Funcas Foundation where the audience - which I attended – listened to a lecture by a Swedish pedagogue who spoke before a Spanish audience about a piece of research carried out in the United States - and of which she was not a member of the research team-. And finally, I point out her presence in a debate at the FAES.
Just as the press has warned against the proliferation of fake news, the world of science should be more alert to this type of intellectual brazenness (of which Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca spoke brilliantly), just as Julio Carabaña did, for example, in an incisive review of a book of social structure.
And, in conclusion, I would like to point out that this restlessness against the sociology of education or, at least, certain sociology is not exclusive to the right. At the other extreme, and by way of example, Fernández Liria et al. refer to Feito and Enguita, among others, as "defenders of pedagogy" and consider them to be little less than useful fools of neoliberalism (if I have understood well the jumble in which such a reference is made). Don't worry the reader: it is the same all the world over. Without going any further, in our neighbouring France they are also in this story of blaming sociology for innumerable social ills. As Bourdieu said, sociology is a weapon of combat.