The idea of schools as “fictions” is bracing at first. But if you flip the idea over a few times, less so. The narrative of schooling runs deep, but it is simply that: a narrative.
According to RIchardson, this fiction covers up “our greatest unpleasant truth that schools are not really built for learning.”
Labaree’s thesis is this: we may say that we want great schools because they are a public good, because (as I said above) they serve the purpose of preparing children to live in a democracy and to hopefully improve society. But what we truly value in schools in the private good they offer in terms of promoting privilege and the current meritocracy, and in the assumed role of providing access to “a better life.”
We choose to build our narrative of schooling around the “private good” of schools and education in order to maintain access to social standing and individual opportunity, rather than as a “public good” which emphasizes citizenship and civic mindedness at its core.
In response to all this, Richardson argues that we need to reclaim the narrative around education.