by Claire Miller
The way David Hursh sees it, the world is facing a number of economic, educational and environmental crises, from increasing poverty rates and global warming to teacher layoffs and the current recession in the U.S.
He argues that the cause of these issues can be attributed to the rise of neoliberalism, an economic theory that took hold in the U.S. under the Ronald Reagan administration and places emphasis on individualism, a competitive marketplace and privatized businesses and schools.
“We’re in a real crisis,” said Hursh, associate professor in the Teaching and Curriculum Program at the Warner Graduate School of Education at the University of Rochester, who presented to Georgia State University faculty, staff and students Feb. 24. “We’re facing many problems and I think the cause is the way in which we look at things, simply in terms of competition, markets, profits and individual interests.”
Hursh has written extensively on the politics of education, neoliberalism and the environment, and often sees the educational system blamed for problems in society.
Rather than placing blame on school systems in general, he believes the classroom is the perfect place to start talking about and finding solutions to these issues.
“We should think about how we can get schools to be centers of change in society,” he said. “We should have students look at their local governments and do research and help them see how they can make a difference.”
Hursh also hopes people will think about neoliberalism’s impact on society and consider alternative economic strategies.
“I don’t have all the answers, but I think we need to figure out how we can work together and how we can improve the system we have now,” he said.
For more information about Hursh, visit http://www.rochester.edu/warner/index.php.