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.
0092: School Lunch Conspiracy?
#education #nutrition #poverty
At the risk of sounding alarmist, several students at my school have passed out just after lunch or
breakfast. The paramedics have had to be called each time. Conspiracy? Who knows, but it sure is strange. This morning one of my students became dizzy. It’s choir so I thought he had locked his knees and just needed to sit down. He wasn’t looking any better so I had a student walk him to the office. He staggered that way. He was dazed. Maybe he had taken something on the way to school? I went to talk to the paramedics after I found someone to watch my class. They couldn’t take him to the hospital, because he wasn’t in immediate danger and there was no parent to be found, but I digress. I got back to class, the custodian was watching it. He told me that this had been happening all week, and just after meals. Then he said, “You know, I think it has something to do with what these kids are eating. The government said we gotta give ‘em healthy food, and they’re in there serving sweet tea and all sorts of sugary things. All these kids have is sweets and hot chips.” I nodded. We discussed the quality of food at different schools and in different places for a minute, both remarking how the wealthier schools have a little better quality food with a little more focus on good nutrition. Additionally, the wealthier kids eat outside of school on a regular basis. Our kids get two meals a day at school and whatever snacks they can get their hands on when they aren’t here. Sure, they have health where they’re “taught” to make healthy choices, but those aren’t reinforced by the cafeteria. We have chili and sticky bun day for God’s sake! The sticky buns taste great, but healthy? Get out of here. The foods not good. Lots of fatty meat. Processed meat, starches and sugars. But, they do serve wheat rolls. There’s also fruit, but its in syrup. Ranch dressing is served with everything. Salad is an option, but they only make ten per lunch period which serves about 200. This spread of food had been the norm at each school I’ve taught. Filling and fattening foods with sugary foods or chips for sale by the cafeteria. Free lunch is restricted, but the kids can buy junk food—ice cream, candy, chips, etc.
I am no nutritionist. I like food that tastes good. I even indulge in the occasional gastrointestinal sin, but I have access to good, fresh, and healthy food. It seems that we, the United States, are feeding an impoverished population junk that keeps them full, but undernourished. We’re keeping them occupied, and distracted. Is this some sort of eugenic mechanism? I don’t know, but I feel uneasy. Something’s not right.
By requiring a man to behave mechanically, mass production domesticates him. By separating his activity from the total project, requiring no critical attitude toward production, it dehumanizes him. By excessively narrowing a man’s specialization, it constricts his horizons, making of him a passive, fearful, naïve being. from Paulo Freire’s ‘Education vs. Massification’
0074: #Occupy and #Anonymous in the Classroom: To Censor is to Lie
@UnicornsImage #censorship #discourse #legion
I received a response to a Tweet I made regarding the importance of helping students understand the occupy movement. The response stated: “@educatedtodeath Teachers should TEACH our kids not BRAINWASH them! #ows DOES NOT belong in ANY curriculum!” I tweeted back that I agreed. The Occupy Movement does not belong in a standardized curriculum, but it should not be hidden from students.
This movement is the first time in many of our lives that we have seen or been a part of people, from We the People, standing up and fighting (peacefully) back against a systemic injustice. People are standing in solidarity exercising their constitutional rights, just as they have in other social movements throughout history. This should not, cannot be ignored by teachers. First, it’s an incredibly teachable moment. History is unfolding before us, and with us. We are included. But, more important than the educational teachable moment, we have people becoming powerful without all the typical means to power: money, guns, etc. The people of the Occupy Movement and Anonymous are acting civilly to represent the people. This is a truly democratic movement, standing against myriad injustices. Do we not teach to build critical thinkers? Is praxis not the goal of a critical education? Democracy runs on informed action of the people I believe. For that to occur, information must flow freely. It would be the greatest injustice to demonize or hide the action of the people from our children. They are the stakeholders in the future. They are we. And, we are legion.