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The Immorality of Education: A position paper for Educational Psychologists

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon Gibbs



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by British Psychological Society, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Aim In this paper I start with the premise that democratic education (as a service to the future) is under threat. For educational psychologists to consider where they might stand in relation to their professional future, therefore, I set out to provide indications of psychological factors implicated in answering the question ‘Can education in a troubled world help us become human and more inclusive?’Context In the current socio-economic and political climate and the increasing commercialisation of schools, educationalists can find it hard to sustain a positive role and purpose. As teachers’ identities and sense of efficacy are eroded, the recruitment of teachers is becoming increasingly problematic and attrition rates are rising. Simultaneously the rate of exclusion of young people from main stream education is not decreasing and several subgroups are over-represented amongst those excluded. I argue that this has major implications for educational psychologists.Method To provide a basis for a reformulation of psychologists’ work I examine the philosophical and psychological basis of the professional identity of teachers and the effects of misunderstanding and mistreating teachers' beliefs in themselves. This requires consideration of inter- and intra-personal dialogues and, particularly for psychologists in their work with teachers, the nature of relationships with others. Findings I argue that only by reaffirming teachers’ sense of creativity, autonomy and agency can education cease to be a mechanistic exercise in social engineering with no fixed goals and rediscover the simpler and more profound purpose of helping people to be human. I conclude that there are ways that educational psychologists might seek to change in order to challenge the dehumanisation of education.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gibbs S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Educational and Child Psychology

Year: 2018

Volume: 35

Issue: 3

Pages: 86-96

Print publication date: 01/12/2018

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 10/12/2018

ISSN (electronic): 0267-1611

Publisher: British Psychological Society



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