note from educatedtodeath: Feel Free to Engage this piece as you see fit. I will engage it with a follow up post.
Education requires a revolution. If anything is to get better, we must throw out, root and branch, every vestige of an aged, manipulative system that demotes students to slaves and teachers to drones.
If we are to restructure education, it must be done totally: institutionally, structurally, epistemologically and pedagogically. Nothing else is worth the attempt.
Work within the system, some say. To what end? We’ve been working within the system for decades. Nothing has changed for the better. Student achievement is plummeting and will continue to within this current structure, despite whatever momentary high points might exist. Even within that construct, the tests given don’t necessarily measure anything of worth. Instead they encourage wrote memorization [easily forgotten] and nothing more, generally speaking. What we have upon graduation are war-wearied students who are about to face another 4-10 years of ‘education’. What we have in totality are a bunch of paper-holding know-nothings. Ask yourself how this bodes for the future of a generation that has been sold a lie about education: “Go to school and you’ll get a good job”.
In a word, bullshit.
Now, this is not to disparage students, but rather to point out the failings of a defunct system.
Now, many of us are setting about the work of creating some new structure for education. What will it look like? What SHOULD it look like? Should education be as rigidly defined as it has been for the better part of two centuries?
Well, if the idea is applicable, appropriate education, what is “applicable”? What is “appropriate”? Who decides what is or isn’t appropriate? Who decides this going forward?
Currently, the State is the end-all of decision making in the realm of education. Any illusion people still hold to about school and district autonomy, not to mention parent involvement, are clinging to a dead, rotting idea. This has a knock-on effect, though. The State being the final arbiter of education has created a horrible moral hazard: Parents no longer give a shit about what their students are learning. Parents are able to maintain rational ignorance and claim moral fortitude – after all, the districts hire professionals who are learned individuals [certified, even! (or maybe certifiable)] that ought to be superb decision makers in relation to their children’s education, correct? This must be the proper way forward, yes?
No. Simply put, no.
The state must necessarily be removed from the decision making process. Parent involvement is directly correlated to child success and achievement, not how many interventions are made by State actors. The interference of government in education must be removed immediately before irreparable damage has been done to society.
Parent involvement is the most reliable and sure predictor of child success and stability in life. Without a doubt in my eyes, this ought to be the foundation. This has many, many ramifications, much of which is politically unpalatable.
Perhaps we live in an economically burdened society, made so by fantastic swindles originating in government and corporate incestuous relations. Perhaps it’s unreasonable to think that we could return to a time where one parent stayed home and was the predominant educator, caretaker and facilitator. We ignore the value of such a set up at our peril – children who stay with their family well into their formative years are more balanced emotionally and have better coping skills, among many other things. Perhaps we have matured enough as a society so much that new forms of education ought to be explored, though. Why are brick and mortar buildings still our go-to, for example? In a day and age where we communicate almost exclusively through the digital realm, we still expect our students to sit for 6-8 hours in a dreary, worn out building that resembles a prison much more than an inviting home – bars on the windows, things chained down, exclusionary discipline and chaotic “learning” environments. Schools are not here for education anymore – we need to come to terms with that immediately.
Schools exist to do a simple few things: babysit for parents chained to jobs for economic reasons, destroy any self-worth a student might have and create an obedient, unthinking population.
If you grew up never seeing your parents, you might be right in feeling like they don’t care about you as much as they ought to. What does this do to your self-image? And if you feel like you’re always wrong with every action you take at school, what motivation does that give you to create the next miracle cure? To invent the next technology that will solve the world’s energy or water problems?
And if you’re trained from age 5-18 that you get up when the bell sounds, you sit down when the bell sounds, you eat when the bell sounds, you read when the bell sounds, you leave when the bell sounds – how much more Pavlovian and unthinking could you hope to make a society? To boot, if asking questions is frowned upon, if freedom of movement is utterly restricted, if choice is negligible, HOW WILL YOU EVER BECOME A FUNCTIONING, USEFUL ADULT?
I teach in a predominantly black school in a low income area. Excepting students with legitimate disabilities, I do not know a single student that I would consider incapable of learning or being a useful participant in society. That being said, I would like to use what I’ll informally call ‘Ghetto Culture’ as a prime example:
The Ghetto Culture has lost faith in the concept of education. This is not due to the failure or loss of value in truly becoming educated, but rather due to the State’s failures and utter ruin in its attempt. The State has co-opted the label “education” and sullied it.
Anything that attempts to reach children in the ghetto [and extended beyond the impoverished daily] culture under the label “education”, however legitimate or genuine, is met with suspicion, contempt and an anti-colonialist sentiment, even if not so named. This is all the work of the State, which has molested and perverted the good ideal that is education and replaced it with schooling. Ironically, the State has labeled its schooling as “education”. Now the common interpretation is that getting an education requires putting up with all of the trappings of schooling. Education does not require schooling.
The State isn’t in the business of education. The State is in the business of schooling. There is a stark difference between the two. Education encourages diversity and creativity in thought. Schooling promotes uniformity and obedience – control.
The State has redefined education. It now means obedience. It now means control.
Very truly yours,
Reject All Systems