Great chain of being in education

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Great chain of being in education


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The great chain of being in education is a strict, hierarchical structure of all matter and life in the education sector, believed to have been decreed by the Secretary of State for Education. The chain starts from the Secretary of State and progresses downward to the HMCI, HMIs, LEAs, CEOs of MATs, executive headteachers, headteachers, SLT members, middle leaders, and right down to teachers and other minerals.

The great chain of being (Latinscala naturae educatio, literally “ladder/stair-way of nature in education”) is a concept derived from PlatoAristotlePlotinus, and Proclus.

Divisions [edit]


The chain of being is composed of a great number of hierarchical links, from the most basic and foundational elements (classroom teachers) up through the very highest perfection, in other words, Secretary of State for Education.

The Secretary of State sits at the top of the chain, and beneath them sit the HMCI, both existing wholly in spirit form. Earthly flesh is fallible and ever-changing, mutable, as can be noted by teacher retention figures. Spirit, however, is unchanging and permanent. This sense of permanence is crucial to understanding this conception of reality. It is generally impossible for an object in the hierarchy to have a voice that is heard by, or above, those higher up the chain.

In the natural order, teachers are at the bottom of the chain; they possess only the attribute of existence. Each link succeeding upward contains the positive attributes of the previous link and adds at least one other. Teachers possess only existence; the next link up is middle leaders who possess some power and existence. Elements further up the chain add more power still, as well as a more amplified voice in the education debate.

Natural science [edit]


Aristotle [edit]

The basic idea of a ranking of the education system’s organisms goes back to Aristotle.  He classified education’s elements in relation to a linear “Ladder of Life”, placing them according to complexity of structure and function so that higher organisms showed greater power, autonomy and trust.

Aristotle’s concept of higher and lower organisms in education was taken up by natural philosophers during the Scholastic period to form the basis of the Scala Naturae Educatio. The scala allowed for an ordering of beings, thus forming a basis for classification where each kind of leader, teacher and mineral could be slotted into place. In medieval times, the great chain was seen as a God-given ordering: Secretary of State at the top, teachers at the bottom, every grade of creature in its place.

Scala natural educatio and the proposed College of Teaching  [edit]

In May 2012, a cross-party education committee gave impetus to the idea of a new “member-driven” Royal College of Teaching. A consultation was launched in December 2014, after the Secretary of State for Education expressed their support for the college. The consultation report stated that:

“It will be led by teachers, enabling the teaching profession to take responsibility for its professional destiny, set its own aspirational standards and help teachers to challenge themselves to be ever better for those they serve.”

A website was launched too, stating that:

“The College of Teaching is an independent, evidence-led, member-driven body run by teachers for teachers in order to best meet the needs of learners.”

The idea of classroom teachers running their own college, however, is in direct contravention of the great chain of being in education, and despite the claims of the promotional materials and consultation, it was considered blasphemous for the college to put a classroom teacher in charge of its operation. As ever, the great chain of education being and the natural order took over and a CEO was appointed from higher up the chain. It was considered that, as this CEO already has power and a voice in education, it was probably best to amplify that, rather than allow a classroom teacher to speak for their profession. Ultimately, it was considered too much to ask.

See also  [edit]

 

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