The Music Makers and the Money Makers

Picture by Paula Ulloa

Picture by Paula Ulloa

A contribution by Paul Walsh, already published in:

Freelance teachers demand fair pay and better working conditions at Expolingua Berlin 2015—here’s why

Where is value created in education? The answer is simple: value is created in the relationship between teacher and learner.

Teachers are people who give us the skills to thrive.  I can still remember the names of the teachers who taught me how to read, to play music, to understand and to question the world. But I can’t remember the names of the books or the computers we used.

In a world gone crazy with the fog of educational technology, ask learners what they want: more time with a well-qualified, inspiring teacher – or more time with an app. See what they say.

Because we are the Music Makers and they are the Money Makers.

But a question: if we create the value, and learners know that we create the value – then why are we  outside in the cold? And why are they inside in the warm?


Because the values of the market take precedence over the values of society.

I looked at the Expolingua website to see who is inside: private language schools, designers of apps and educational software, and language test providers. The problem is that in their world teaching, and teachers’ wages are seen as a cost – rather than as an investment. This has to change.

As Karl Polanyi once wrote, “To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment…would result in the demolition of society.”

No one is arguing that economic growth doesn’t produce benefits. But what’s the use in having money – if you can’t count it? Or  books – if you can’t read them?

At a time when thousands of people are coming to Europe fleeing war, needing to learn new languages and integrate into European society – we need a rethink of how education is regarded. A rethink of who creates value.

Because we are the Music Makers and we produce the value. And however much teachers cost, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant society.


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