All change requires, to use a worn out phrase a “paradigm shift.” Yet; that need couldn’t be more necessary than present times. In order for America to rise again we need a massive change; a change at the very foundation and what better place to start than with the educational process in the U.S?
As for me, I think there’s far more to Shaw’s message than what we get on the first pass; “Youth is wasted on the young.” I am completely convinced that the same is true for education, it is wasted on the young, not because they don’t want it or because they’re lazy, but because our education is built on the wrong foundation; we have a ten story building built on the foundation of an outhouse. In the U.S. education is NOT education of the individual, rather a mass communal attempt to teach conformity in preparation for production and contribution to the GDP.
For those of us who have had an opportunity to carry on conversations with a person who has been educated in a country other than the US, the difference is not only noticeable, it’s stark.
And it’s not a simple matter of being better in the sciences, math, etc., it’s knowledge, literally of global proportions. People in other countries understand the roles they play in the massive community of Earth and that understanding goes far beyond the warped perspectives we’re taught in our schools.
The United States IS NOT “the most important,” “the best,” “God’s chosen,” “the shining light of democracy.”
Exceptionalism is the antithesis of education.
The world is not the molding material for you and I, rather, we’re part of a picture much larger than “ME,” and until we educate our citizens for the sake of knowledge rather than production, we’ll remain isolationists and exceptionalists by design.
Firstly: The extreme nationalism shoved down our throats should never enter the picture in our education, yet it permeates the very air we breathe from day one of our education. This is indoctrination of epic proportions NOT education. Our history lessons are a comic book of fantasies, blinding us with hegemonic lenses so dark, we can’t see beyond the noses that hold them to our eyes; our schools are bastions of political indoctrination, our creativity and dreams absorbed through surreptitious, perhaps even sinister efforts.
Secondly, consider this: Our educational system, as we see it today, was developed in conjunction with the Industrial Revolution. Coincidence? I think not!
Our system was designed to mass create producers to fill the frenzied development of factories. It was the new tool for the corporate elite; mass amounts of human capital at their disposal. People who were once very independent and self-sufficient, a type of people that DO NOT work well in factories, offices or production lines were available, almost free of charge. Corporate American had a never-ending ocean of Orwellian robots, mass-produced to in turn mass-produce for profit.
In the late 19th century when our current “system” of education was being developed, many very well educated people were adamantly opposed to the direction the system was being designed. Ralph Waldo Emerson, for example: “We learn nothing rightly until we learn the symbolical character of life….I believe that our own experience instructs us that the secret of Education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. It is chosen and foreordained, and he only holds the key to his own secret. By your tampering and thwarting and too much governing he may be hindered from his end and kept out of his own. Respect the child. Wait and see the new product of Nature. Nature loves analogies, but not repetitions. Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.”
Emerson understood the connection between successful, effective education and individual interests. He feared, rightfully so, that we were heading down a path of mass production; an assembly line mass-producing Model Ts
In the U.S., our propensity towards mediocrity is a harsh representation of our failed education (and it has NOTHING to do with failing teachers, but entirely a result of our system); our wide-spread intolerance, social stratification and the indifference as a result of that stratification are results of missing pieces of the knowledge puzzle, because we’re guided towards conformity and confusion rather than individualism and confidence.
Who truly enjoys “education” at a young age and why do we not enjoy it?
From day one, we are force-fed disconnected groups of “stuff.” We’re expected to digest that stuff from what the education bureaucracy assembles.
And in turn, we assemble what the bureaucracy wants, in factories, offices and assembly lines.
Many children are not predisposed to be assembly line workers, accountants, finance advisers, etc. yet they’re forced into a world of mass of producers, much in the way George Orwell envisioned in his novel 1984. We have become exactly what he wrote of, an oligarchical, collectivist society with two interests in mind – produce and consume.
And the sad thing is, the vast majority of Americans don’t even realize that we are now his vision come to life.
I was a product of our “wonderful” educational system. I learned absolutely nothing from school; until I was ready, in my mid 40s, after I had shed the restraints placed upon me long before I was old enough to even know I was being shckled. It was then that I understood the correlation between life and education and that education is not a means to an end or for production, but a means to a better world on the whole.
Connecting life’s experiences and an understanding of the purpose of education comes early for some and later for others, but in our system, we ignore the individual’s propensities and give him/her what we want them to have. And how convenient it is that it fits so well into the game of the powered elite and the corporations in which we produce wealth – for them!
We don’t enjoy education because it is forced upon us in a manner that many, many children are not predisposed to learn or accept. More on that subject in a bit.
Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome Disorder (PTSD)
We all know what that is by now; we all know that many combat veterans suffer from it; we know that people who have been subjected to horrific incidents suffer from it: 9-11, airliner crashes, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc., but there’s another cause of PTSD.
“Posttraumatic stress disorder is far more prevalent than previously believed, and is often persistent. Progress in estimating age-at-onset distributions, cohort effects, and the conditional probabilities of PTSD from different types of trauma will require future epidemiological studies to assess PTSD for all lifetime traumas rather than for only a small number of retrospectively reported “most serious” traumas.”
PTSD is not simply a symptom of “major trauma.” Very often, people experience PTSD who are placed into situations for which they are not psychologically “wired’ and that can include situations as seemingly benign as an artist forced into a highly structured, repetitive environment, i.e. processing the millions upon millions of parts for machines sold in mass across the world, or processing mail.
Getting the connection here? Some people “go postal” because they cannot handle the stress of a highly structured and monotonous process when their propensity is towards a free-flow life. And, we’ve all been down that road, mostly unknowingly so; school!
Soldiers are forced to act against the most basic human level of decency there is, to preserve life, by killing others and most often doing so without apparent reason in the individual’s mind and sadly, PTSD is often manifest as a result.
People are finding themselves trapped. They’re living “Groundhog Day,” performing the routine of turning the alarm off at 6:30 AM, taking a piss, brushing our teeth, shaving, showering, dressing, grabbing a doughnut on the way to work, and punching the clock.
We perform repetitious, tedious, and mundane tasks for 8 to 10 hours; returning home to make an attempt towards some semblance of normalcy.
We have, possibly, a couple hours in the day left, all for us; two hours a day to try to be who we are, if nothing else prevents that moment of freedom; only to restart the process over and over – experience the same routine day after day.
“Going postal” is simply PTSD manifest in violence. It is almost always generated by the routines in which those who are not predisposed for such, must participate in order to survive in a society built around mass production and consumption.
Gun violence, for example, is not just about guns, it’s about a serious social illness that is so prevalent in our culture that our culture is on the verge of destruction.
Why do so many of us fail in and detest the educational system?
Regardless of who we are, or how we think and see the world, we’re forced into a highly structured, monotonous situation designed for one thing and one thing only – production.
An artist is forced to grasp algebra when all he/she wants to learn is how to be a better painter, sketcher or sculptor. A philosopher is forced to learn how chemicals interact and a scientist is forced into literature, etc…..
I firmly believe that our very educational system is the root cause of our expanding social disorder, just as in Orwell’s 1984, we are rebelling against a society in which we no longer matter, against an unseen force – the oligarchy of the elite corporatist who needs producers; not individuals.
In John Taylor Gatto’s “The Seven Lesson School Teacher” he enumerates exactly what teachers do today:
- Teach confusion
- Reinforce class position
- Promote indifference
- Create emotional dependency
- Force intellectual dependency
- Instill provisional self-esteem
- Create paranoia
Everyone who reads this blog should read Gatto’s essay on this matter and you too will see, the reason as clear as the air you wish you could breathe; our society is imploding upon itself and it’s not because we’re born to be violent, we’re taught to be violent through total disregard for our conscious selves, our metaphysical lives and it begins taking place the moment we walk through the hallowed doors of our educational institutions.
Can America rise again?
Certainly, but we must start at the very foundation and rebuild. Simply placing Band-aids over the sore spots does nothing but hide them from view, they will remain sore regardless of how many Band-aids we apply.
Starting over is going to be a necessity and one very basic block of laying that new foundation is education.
Teaching children to contribute to the world in a manner that is best suited for them will ensure success, reduce violence and will surely make them better world citizens through understanding beyond our own borders.
Teaching one to be a human being of their natural choice is far simpler and so much more valuable to society than forcing a human being to be an object of absolute obedience and conformity, blind to all but the needs of the “machine.”
Education; REAL education teaches one how to contribute to the benefit of society using the natural talents possessed by the individual.
IMAGINE! What we could do if all our educational efforts went towards a better world rather than a fatter wallet.