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.
0033: Notes from an Education Underground (teachers become radical please)
#teaching #edreform #revolution
We must move beyond things that are only quantifiable. Our people are being neglected as we focus more and more on quantifying their intelligence. Teachers and students are forced to work mindlessly. Critical thought and the human spirit are being neglected. Students are leaving schools semiliterate and unprepared. We are working toward an undefined and nonexistent goal. We are simply a consumer culture. Do we want a mindless future. Or an underclass?
The value of the arts. The production of culture. The transformation of an individual through the creation of culture thereby transforming a community. We are a spiritually impoverished nation. Beauty and truth unnoticed because of the focus on empiricism and survival. The wasted time in classrooms. Students are neglected because there is no time to explore. Can we look for life in our students? It’s when they’re fully engaged in something meaningful. It’s when they’re given power. We need radical teachers. We need bureaucracy to be lessened in schools. Teachers need to be quality, but so do the people and policies policing them. Learners need to be free. Teachers need to be radical. Good teachers step outside the boundaries of what is expected. They connect with their students as people not students. Teachers empower and lead because they are good people who care and are intelligent. Teachers are and should be radical. The predicament we are in requires a a radical change. Our country needs a revival of arts and beauty and truth. We are poor. The daily grind no longer serves to help our people. We need a breath of spirit. No longer can we toil away in factories. We must innovate and join together. We need a change. Rather, we must demand a change. Let our souls be acknowledged and then awakened. There is life to be had.
We must see to it that the status quo is upset, because it already has been. Our education and culture and grasp of beauty is famished, and so will be our people.
Our youth are innovators, but education is not meeting that inquisitiveness. Schools are wasteful places where children learn to wait in lines and hide their cell phones while ignorant teachers numb their minds as theirs have already been numbed by countless directives from blind administrators. This must change. The school must change. The best work I did as a teacher is when I engaged the learners in my care in dialogue. Whether they were 8 or 18. Our intelligences sharpened each other. We worked together. The curriculum stands as a guide, but in reality is a step by step manual. Is there a step by step manual to becoming more fully human? If you say yes than my words a null and so is the concept of freedom. Freedom is an unexplored concept in our culture and our schools. We are killing America.
0030: For the Love of Pete, Stop the Assembly Line! #teaching
Strikes have worked in the past as a means of making the assembly line a better place to work— higher pay, lunch breaks, better hours, enough money to buy all the nice things we rich teachers like to buy. The last I heard every teacher drives a Benz and eats every meal at 5 star restaurants. But our great wealth is not why I write. And in case some high authority comes across this post— we are not rich and can barely afford the basics. I digress. The assembly line does not need to be improved. It needs to be STOPPED and DISASSEMBLED. Our system is a relic from a past time, when the future was guaranteed, and Ford prevailed. We know all this. The system is going to take years to finally die out. So what can we, who are still on the line, do?
We certainly don’t want to just stop production. We want the little cogs that we put on the machine to do their part. We want the end product to be a critical thinking, critical consumer and producer to be the final product. We want to send forth independent thinkers who will become our neighbors and colleagues. But, all this is not the end result of the assembly line. The assembly line produces blindly consuming automatons— perfectly standardized in every way. So what do we do? I propose a rebellion of sorts. Teach your prescribed curriculum as a small part of your practice. Teach it within the framework of critical education. Perhaps the budding learners can spend time analyzing the shortcomings of the curriculum. Teach about testing as a means of oppression and segregation. When I was teaching algebra we did this. We learned algebra, and we learned social theory, and the reality of the problems of standardization. These kids were poor black kids in rural Mississippi, by the way. Every student I have taught has had a vague understanding of the injustice they experience everyday simply by attending school. They are never ignorant of inequality; they might not know how to express it, but they are acutely aware. Coursework should focus on the state objectives, of course. Kids should learn algebra, grammar, reading, social studies, and so forth. They should learn the Hell out of it. And, then they should have a healthy dose of social foundations of education. All this should all be combined into one huge think-tank you call your class. Social media should be taught anytime you get the chance, and the faces of school board members, politicians, and Arne Duncan should be shared so the kids will know whose asses to kick when they fully realize their own power. We, the teachers of the oppressed kids of America, must make these kids the most powerful people in the world. We must help them by allowing them to awaken and realize their own genius. It’s tough, and there will be headaches and Xanex, but for the love of our own futures we must stop the assembly line.
0029: Teaching, the Last Assembly Line in the US
Teachers are professional pedagogues, but learning is not up to the teacher. The teacher’s prescribed job is not to learn, but teach— prescriptively defined as depositing information into empty vessels. But, these vessels are not empty, thus the creation of an educational plan to de-educate, then reeducate. With this comes the birth of classroom discipline and classroom management, two very nasty words. We must “manage” our classroom because we, as educators must systematically deconstruct and piss on any learning that has been done outside a school. O, and the learning is vast. Strangely, kids are interested in things. They are naturally curious. Probably an evolutionary trait. Additionally, kids seek out information. They solve problems and think and try new things. They learn without the teacher. When a teacher tries to colonialize a learners mind, the learner, rather, the free human rebels. The education I am expected to deliver comes in a box. A series of bland textbooks, that is aligned to a state framework, that is rigorously tested with materials through a corporation that sells textbooks. Teaching is the last remaining assembly line in the United States.