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The Case for Collectivism

The general election must be having an effect because I’m finding myself increasingly drawn into spurious debates about the merits of one immigration policy over another, or whether the ‘cross-over’ point is actually interesting or a statistical irrelevance. 

Westminster’s first-past-the-post (FPPT) system typically results in a binary choice for the electorate.  Across the pond, the US system actively discourages marginal candidates and has increasingly resulted in a hardening of the political landscape, ‘you’re with me or against’, is typical rhetoric from both sides.

While this might help us to explain many a political decision, I wonder if the same thinking can be applied to how we view the world more generally. The poles on this continuum could be described as ‘I’ and ‘we’: do I prioritise my own achievements, my own position, my own happiness; or, do I think first about the social structures around me, the community groups, the schools and businesses I am a part of, sometimes at my own cost?

In a school, children are part of a larger community.  Schools only function with the collective support of hundreds of people – parents, staff and children.  Even the oldest and largest schools, when you think about it, are nothing more than a set of physical spaces and buildings which we implicitly agree to belong to for the educational benefits of our children.  This sense of belonging creates cohesion and a shared belief in the future.

But this artificial grouping breaks down when individuals choose to follow a different path, one that prioritises their own desires against those of the group.  It might also explain why Head Teachers become rather jumpy about timekeeping, attendance and behaviour because these are all vital for the group, or in this case the school, to function effectively.

So, this blog is attempting to make the case for collectivism, to promote the shared joy that comes from being part of something larger than oneself.  A collectivist mindset is good for our character, turning up for school when you’re feeling tired builds resilience, being mindful of the way you speak to others develops social skills and above being respectful of the rules, even when we disagree with them, makes us all better off. 

David Paton is Head of Radnor House Sevenoaks

Picture generated by OpenA1's DALL-E model, June 2024


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