Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
David R. Counts
This work concerns the relationship between education and development along the north coast of West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea. Using research from three urban-oriented primary schools, I consider the way the hidden curriculum of school life is formed in relation to both social change and cultural continuity in this area of the country. Historically, formal education in Papua New Guinea has grown from a very uneven and particularistic process led by mission educators to an increasingly centralized and secularized school system under the control of provincial and federal governments. Educational policy has become increasingly tied to hopes for economic development. Many parents and students therefore view formal education as a direct route to employment in the cash economy, despite the fact that certain economic constraints have made the 'connection' between education and wage employment a tenuous one. Although the vast majority of West New Britains will continue to make their living through subsistence agriculture in village environments, the message of much of the hidden curriculum of classroom instruction is that the children in this province need to learn the forms of social organization most prevalent in wage economy relationships and the urban environment. The celebration of abstract and academic over practical knowledge, the encouragement of a competitive individualism that creates a world of 'winners' and 'losers', and the formation of authority structures that naturalize social hierarchy emphasize an overall desire for social change. A much weaker message that emphasizes cultural continuity can also be found in a secondary form of hidden curriculum in the schools. Drawing on various cultural traditions, individual teachers give some ambivalent lessons concerning gender relations, cooperative individualism, and the possibility for the dissolution of formal educational structures. Many of these secondary messages resonate with common themes from the cultural traditions of West New Britain. In this work, I use the case material from West New Britain to illustrate the importance of using hidden curriculum as a methodological focus in order to bridge micro and macro research traditions to form a more adequate theory of cultural transmission.
Fife, Wayne, "A certain kind of education: Education, culture and society in West New Britain" (1991). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3597.