0172: The Sullied Good We Do: Teachers as Cogs in the Machine
By the very nature of our position as teachers we have the ability to do many wonderful things. We equally have the power to do great harm, with or without intention. Our system of compulsory education is at the very least imposing, beyond that it serves to colonialize and massify every soul that passes through its machinery.
These statements and ideas are bothersome as they serve to split me, the teacher and human, in half. They indict me of some unconscious atrocity committed at whim my own hands. Further, by making such statements I run the risk of alienating myself from anyone who finds them as offensive as I do, and guarantee that I will be misunderstood on some level. But, I believe the duality of our profession holds truths well worth bearing witness to. To not notice the dual nature of what we do would be negligent. By understanding it better and our role within it, we are better able to disrupt what needs disrupting and bring forth our more valuable attributes.
My intent is not to expose some conspiracy by some powerful few; rather, I want to understand my role in a system that functions beyond the intention of the pieces that work within it. It’s a system that is both benevolent and useful, and equally harmful. There are aspects that enlighten and liberate, and suppress and colonialize. Unfortunately, as the tiniest pieces of this machine, teachers, it is not always possible to decide how our duties will be carried out, besides outright rebellion.
I debate whether I should provide a laundry list of specific characteristics of the machine, its cogs, and their functions. I think this would be trite, as we all have our own understandings that hopefully are perpetually changing. The truth I put forth is simply that, my understanding of the truth. I challenge you as a teacher, human, thinker to examine your understanding of your role within the system. Be honest in seeking the good you do, and the atrocities, no matter how small, you commit. Honest reflection is a means purging and pruning anything unnecessary or ill.
I will make one solid indictment of the system, its teachers, and consequently myself: all children are not served equally; some experience great gains, others have experiences that are detrimental to the educational, personal, and public lives.
As we are cogs in a machine, so is the education system. Blame and intention are too minute to tease from the grand playground. Disrupt what you can, and be conscious.
0105: It’s getting a little 1984 up in here
#education #revolution #totalitarianism #occupy #anonymous
As I watch and listen to the news, scroll through twitter feeds, read blogs, look at laws being passed, and noticing bits of education reform I can’t help noticing that it’s beginning to look a little like 1984, with a sprinkle of Huxley’s Brave New World. I don’t like to be an alarmist, but it seems as though alarms are being sounded, and then muted. I’m struggling to remain rational and calm. Reality is rather quickly morphing into dystopian fiction. Schools are massive training institutions that manage to insidiously undereducate the growing lower class. Teachers are kept busy and overwhelmed by testing and the fear of losing their jobs. Teachers have no choice but to numb their students with useless, disconnected knowledge. The middle class, what’s left of it anyway, has been kept entertained, comfortable, and apathetic for years. Just enough pay to get by and stay distracted. If that doesn’t work, the Doc can prescribe some pills. Kids are drugged too. If they won’t get in line, give ‘em a pill. Books are being banned in schools in AZ. This is at least overt. Texts and concepts are overlooked by textbook companies, curriculum makers, and overwhelmed teachers. Omission is useful to avoid alarm. Arizona is just getting ballsy. There’s a move there to censor teacher’s language in and out of school I hear. Beyond the classroom, censorship, surveillance, and indefinite detention are popping up in the laws and the public. The world is abuzz with revolution and the powers at be trying to squash them before a tipping point is reached. I wrote with an awareness that there may be Hell to pay for my words an criticisms at some point. Of course, there’s no turning back now. Surely I’ve gone mad. I’ve read too much dystopian fiction. I’ve read too much about totalitarian regimes. Perhaps I’m becoming a real life Dale Gribble. But, I’m not confident in my perceived madness. I’m more doubtful everyday.
I’ve been told many a time: “If it looks like shit. Smells like shit. Then…”
With that in mind looks and smells are quite telling, and it seems that we’re all knee deep in shit.
0072: Public #Education, #Schools from Hell, and the Dystopian Landscape
#SOS #revolution #teaching
I think my view of public education via my experience, micro- and macro-, has merged with my views of dystopian realities. The places I’ve worked give or take a few have filled me each day with that feeling of grayness that is delivered in Orwellian dystopias. Bells ringing each hour, students being herded through halls to their next box for training, a regimen so strict and insidious that it can’t even be escaped with outright rebellion, students occasionally disappearing to alternative schools who can quite cut the mustard, and finally the Test. Those are all environmental, but the worst part is the deadness in everyone’s eyes. Every pair is overcome with a great sense of ennui and spiritual resignation— every pair, teachers, students, administrators. We are all chained to our numbers, our scores.
I left the glorious field of algebra, to a kinder music for this reason. I get to try to rekindle a fire of some sort in those eyes. I, with my class, get to try and create another reality. But, it’s always cut short with the bell. And, I must also focus on the test, building vocabulary and the like, but I am free and crafty enough to do it in my own way. My chain is longer now than when I taught algebra. Surely, it will be tightened when we enter test review, but for now it’s a bit longer.
Freedom, stolen or perceived, in a public school is a rare commodity, and if it is to be had it must be stolen. That is tragic, and a travesty.