0093: They were “taught” or “helped to learn”? Directing our #language to benefit our #student s
#education #revolution #SOSchat
Teaching is quickly being reduced to a process of depositing information in the minds of our students for the simple purpose of them regurgitation the info onto a bubble sheet. Good teaching = good test scores. Good test scores = caring teacher. A = B and B = FU. We’re in this terrible cycle of educational propaganda that tugs at the hearts, minds, and souls of teachers. We’re confused. The triangle has been called a circle so much we no longer know the difference. So, we must combat this by reworking our language.
Rather than teaching, we must assist learning. I “taught” them the quadratic formula can no longer suffice. It must be replaced with “I helped them to learn the quadratic formula and its applications”. This simple restructuring of a phrase is the difference in a paternalistic teaching practice, and helping a learner become critically aware. With the changing terms comes a change of mindset—a transformation. It requires, me, the teacher to view myself as an assistant, rather than a ruler. It forces humility. It requires a benevolent and democratic spirit to admit the small role of helping someone else learn. “I taught” is an exceptionally self-aggrandizing statement. “I taught” gives credit where credit should be shared.
I am asking you to join me in the challenging task of replacing paternalistic language with democratic language in the teaching practice. It will be a challenge, and a slew of failures. It’s necessary for me to teach with the intent of building a democratic critical consciousness among my students and myself. We must redefine teaching with our language. Our actions will change as our consciousness grows. We must reclaim teaching from the deformers and the testers. We must help our people.
0122: Surely I’m Confused. Which ‘People’ are the “People”?
#government #democracy #occupy #p2 #ctl
How can anyone call this a democracy? Sure. People can participate. But, participation is limited. Very limited. People are detached from the government. It is not the people’s government. It is ‘certain’ people’s government. It is a government that belongs to ‘certain’ organizations. The candidates and current politicians rarely have any true connection to
the people, and vice-versa. A politician is nothing more than a distant celebrity who has power reaching far beyond entertainment. We, the people, vote, or not, for someone who has the funds to advertise and sustain a campaign— and they have staffs who are quite savvy in the fundraising department. These people, if they remain to be that, are distant entities from what what the common folk would know as people. Their station in life has endowed them with myriad opportunities and freedoms that only money and connections can buy. We are run by a ‘them’ that wants to be known as ‘us’.
Has this separation from the ruling spawned great apathy? Of course. But, apathy may not suffice. Apathy indicates the absence of what once was. Have we, all the people, ever really been involved? Or, has participation been limited to the wealthy, and upper middle class? All participation from the lower and working classes have seemed to require some form of public struggle. Demonstrations, strikes, civil disobedience, and so forth, seem to have been the only means of persuasion for the lower socio-economic majority of our people. Much of the change that has come about through demonstration has been a result of public response to the excessive force used by authorities. Change does not seem to come through any sort of benevolence, but only for the sake of public opinion. Change comes for the sake of keeping a name squeaky clean to those who can see. This does not seem like democracy. It closely resembles the behavior of colonialized societies, where the oppressed classes have to fight tooth and nail for every smidgen of dignity they receive, or have to turn to alternative economies and protection structures. Societies like this have huge underclass systems that operate completely separate from “mainstream” society.
Surely, I’m confused. Please explain. Am I allowed to ask these questions? Do I have any rights? Why do I feel uneasy putting this into print? Paranoia is perhaps creeping in.
0115: To train and control or to teach and learn: is there a choice?
#education #revolution #SOS #occupyedu
It seems that the goal of institutions is dominion over mankind. Organizations function to tame wild spirits and make them act civilly. This is not a terrible thing— people acting civilly. But, do the rulers act civilly? Not just the grand rulers, the government, corporations, etc., but the smaller rulers. Those who have dominion over few. Teachers might fall into this category. Are we just miniature tyrants? Are we forced to be? Expected to be? If we are, or aren’t do we have a choice in the matter?
The choice is often a matter of rebellion. Our institutions, which stand to standardize the masses, require a certain level of tyrannical behavior for those who work within their walls. My power as a teacher, in this system, is based on how well I manage behavior and control the flow of information. The flow of information and behavior are tied together. In a system such as our where we deposit arbitrary and minimally useful information into learners then there must be a system of behavioral management. When you colonizing a mind, there must be sanctions to prevent and/or quell rebellion. To teach there must be learning. To deposit information there must only be classroom management and training.
To return to an earlier question: do we have the choice, as teachers, to not behave as mini-tyrants? No, not “succeed” in this system. Learning for a test or standardization or massification requires some sort of coercion, whether positive or punitive, it requires an external force to motivate the learner. Tyranny is required to extend or impose tyranny. There is a choice however, and it isn’t between “success” and “failure”. The choice is between teaching and training. One requires an act of open rebellion. The rebellious and radical teacher will choose to not function as an extension of the hand of tyranny that works to dictate the goings on within a classroom, and more poignantly the minds of the recipients of said education. Our form of education, that focuses on mass standardization at the cost of neglecting the curious human spirit, forces us to choose between doing our job and teaching children. We can train and manipulate automatons or we can teach and learn with humans. Your choice.
The important thing is to help men (and nations) help themselves, to place them in consciously critical confrontation with their problems, to make them the agents of their own recuperation. Paulo Freire from Education for Critical Consciousness
0109: Our Schools Have Been Hijacked: Join me in a conversation about how to take them back
#education #SOSchat #revolution #edreform
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
What would it take to provide a “world class” education? Is it possible in the U.S. public schools system as it is? I venture to say no. If the answer is ‘no’, then what needs to be done? Is the answer in democratizing our schools? Eliminating bureaucracy? Liberating the education system from corporate control? Putting decision making power in the hands of educators?
How could some of these things be accomplished? Are they feasible goals? Would it be possible to create an alternative? Could educators create a sustainable alternative to the education system we have today? Could we have grassroots schools that taught children what they needed to know? We don’t want or need more charter schools. We don’t want corporate fingers dictating the every move of educators. We want, I believe, to provide an equitable education that creates the possibility for an open society or democracy in the future. We want an educated citizenry. We need that if we are not to fall into the clutches of some not so distant corporate totalitarian regime. Our public schools have been hijacked. It is becoming increasingly impossible to provide the education we know should be provided. What can we do? How can we take back our system or create an feasible alternative? Do we need to teach outside of school? We, the teachers, need to change this, but how. I’d like to start collecting ideas and collaborating. Let’s have a conversation. Please contact me at email@example.com . Let’s figure something out.
0107: That which renders us powerless, and what to do about it*
#education #revolution #SOSchat #occupy
I am an educator, and a staunch supporter of public education and teachers. However, I find it increasingly difficult to support a system(s) that, from the moment it accepts a child, seeks to disable any critical spirit of humanity and replace it with an eternal need that can only be sated by some an institution. Our systems do not create participatory individuals. They create passive recipients of services needed. This does not seem to be a new phenomenon. Schools along with other social services have supplied the needs and thoughts of America’s underclass for quite sometime now. The middle class has equally been rendered just as passive, only having been allowed the illusion that they work for their own benefit, when in actuality, the middle class is no more free to participate than the poor. The poor are assistance and/or wage-slaves. The middle class are slaves to their debts and ideologies of security. Neither class works to benefit or affect themselves.
The poor have been rendered silent by being made dependent. They schools work to tame their spirits and limit their thoughts. They are allowed only basic literacy skills and never allowed to create. Testing has helped to narrow the curriculum and keep teachers and students focused on curriculum rather than problems. This strata is kept entertained and barely comfortable. If they step out of line they are beaten into submission, ushered into prisons, or other institutions. Individuals who escape the grasp of poverty are encouraged to continue the upward climb, abandoning the problems from which they were delivered. The version of success given them was that of the oppressor, and by eliminating critical consciousness there is no need to stop an reflect on one’s actions.
The rapidly diminishing middle class has been ushered through existence with a focus on maintenance of that which has been acquired. Their social structure has allowed for an illusion of social mobility through petty promotions and similar reinforcements. Some have been able to attain varying degrees of power through higher education and business, but the middle class, with a few exceptions has remained just as powerless as the poor, they’ve just had more choices of distraction. The institutions of the middle class very much allow the illusion of participation in democracy, but their choices are often small, and predetermined, for many, by sectarian or party affiliation. Churches and other similar social institutions among the middle class help dictate beliefs of the middle class.
Many people escape into the realms of academia which equally has its own fixed ideologies and requirements for advancement.
The ruling elite are incomprehensible beyond the fact that they have no choice but to fight to maintain their own power at any cost. For the ruling body to remain the ruling body it must either forcefully or insidiously keep the masses occupied with internal conflict and struggle, along with copious distraction. The people are divided by class, race, political affiliation, misinformation, prejudice, and so forth. I do not intend to say that these are completely manufactured, but the structures in which we survive allow for the development of such fears and divisions. People who fear one another can be easily controlled.
All that said, the problem is a lack of critical consciousness among the people. People do not participate, because their participation has been meaningless in the past. We learn as school children that we are incapable of really making any decision. We are nurtured to be consumers. Information is deposited in us by teachers. Teachers simply deliver the curriculum. We are passive within our communities. We wait for things to be changed. Some of us call our congressmen and speak with their aides, but we are only one vote. Everything is provided for us. If it isn’t, we don’t know what to do.
How is this solved?
We begin by eliminating the distance between ourselves and our neighbors. Nothing will change as long as we are a nation of others. As long as I am on the side of right and everyone else is wrong, I am nothing more than a puppet of my chosen or ‘chosen for me’ ideology. We cannot continue as a divided people. As we grow closer we must become more involved. We will become more open. As we become more open, our society must, as a direct result, become more open.
The answer to this debacle is not simple or solitary. Just as the problem itself can not be isolated, neither can the solution. However, entering into dialogue, or the dialectic sort, can only serve to bring us closer together as human beings. By becoming more interconnected we must become more involved. As be become more involved we are no longer just a mass of sheep, but a force. We will become an open or a more open society.
*I must acknowledge that my ideas could never be called entirely my own. They are a culmination of my experiences with my own world, and my readings of the experience of others. I write this to acknowledge my understanding of my development as a part of a collective consciousness that is not entirely my own. My experiences have served to force me to open certain books at certain times that have either shaped me, or more likely, shaped my understanding of my own experience.
0106: Teachers, new and seasoned, remember you’re a person first, then a #teacher
#education #revolution #EtherSec #humanity
Friends who give your lives to the education of others please don’t neglect your own humanity. You are a human first, and then a teacher. We live in a society that so often ties who we are to our careers. Teaching is a commitment, a very deep one. It requires all of your love and humanity if you are to be successful, that is, if you are going to reach your students (testing aside). Teachers have many expectations to meet, and many more stresses that go along with those expectation. It’s easy to watch your humanity—friends, family, hobbies, identity, etc.—slip away as your focus on teaching increases. For new teachers this is a trap. You want to do a good job. You want to measure up. You want to change the world. You’re not achieving your goals or meeting expectations. You want to keep your job. The truth is, these are thoughts that fill the minds of all teachers, veterans an new, but as a new teacher you haven’t always learned to cope with the stresses. New teachers burnout quickly in many cases. Veteran teachers are focused on keeping their jobs, and have weathered many storms. Some have maintained their humanity some have had it stripped from them little by little. For any and all teachers, if you feel like you had no life, you must do anything and everything to begin one or maintain the one you have. It’s not just a matter of social and psychological health, or even a matter of effectiveness (you are in fact more effective if you’re psychologically, socially, and physically healthy). Rather, it’s a matter of dignity and pride. Humanity is the most valuable thing we possess. It’s how we value ourselves. If you have pride and dignity, you will by nature resist oppression. You will have no choice but to advocate for yourself. You will refuse to be a victim. If you value your own humanity, you will be better able to value the humanity of others. You will be better able to connect with the people around you and in your care. You will understand the need to advocate for yourself and others. When you lose your humanity and job becomes just a job. You revert to mantra “one day at a time”. Life becomes drudgery. Regardless of your level of humanity and self-awareness, do something, anything, to move in that direction. Read a book. Write one. Seek beauty and truth. Seek to know thyself. “Treat yo’self.”
Find a friend. Go dancing. Do whatever it is (or was) that makes you feel alive. Don’t fall prey to a dehumanizing system in a dehumanizing world. Arise and celebrate your humanity. Rage for your humanity.
The radical…[has] the duty, imposed by love itself, to react against the violence of those who try to silence him—of those who, in the name of freedom, kill his freedom and their own. Paulo Freire from Education for Critical Consciousness
#Education (#SOS) should enable people to participate in a democratic society. Further, education should mirror democracy. When democracy is in place it must function as a miniature democracy. As is public education is failing miserably at building the consciousness necessary for active participation in democracy. Students are leaving schools as apathetic automatons, rather than critical citizens. We must democratize our classrooms. We must throw caution to the test, and teach for the sake of our society. And, we must escape from the illusion that we are free or democratic. We have to make it the way it should be.