Sadly, children’s passion for thinking often ends when they encounter a world that seeks to educate them for conformity and obedience only.
Modern schools and universities push students into habits of depersonalized learning, alienation from nature and sexuality, obedience to hierarchy, fear of authority, self-objectification, and chilling competitiveness. These character traits are the essence of the twisted personality-type of modern industrialism. They are precisely the character traits needed to maintain a social system that is utterly out of touch with nature, sexuality, and real human needs.
[T]he system of education our children are being indoctrinated into today is fundamentally the same as it was 100 years ago, when it was designed to prepare factory workers for an industrial culture oriented toward manufacturing consumer goods and winning political and economic wars. Through competition, self-repression, standardization, and strict obedience to the clock, it teaches authoritarianism and unquestioned faith in the experts. It’s a billion-dollar industry in and of itself, which by all accounts is ineffective, outdated, disempowering to the individual, and unable to produce a fully literate population after years of compulsory schooling.
‘Let’s face it,’ [Wendy] Priesnitz writes, ‘the majority of the problems facing society today–pollution, unethical politicians, poverty, unsafe cars… the list goes on–have been created or overseen by the best traditional college graduates. Whether these problems were created by design or accident, we cannot fix them by continuing the status quo. We need to create a society that chooses action over consumption, that favors relating to others over developing new weapons, that encourages conservation over production. And this just won’t happen unless we de-institutionalize learning.’
[F]or the vast majority of students, academic study is nothing more than vocational training. Because ‘academic study has no bearing on life,’ it must be the exclusive determinant of the lives of those who pursue it. The innocently hypocritical reservations people have about science include the expectation that academic study must lead to a profession for all and sundry. Yet scholarship, far from leading inexorably to a profession, may in fact preclude it. For it does not permit you to abandon it; in a way, it places the student under an obligation to become a teacher, but never to embrace the official professions of doctor, lawyer, or university professor. It leads to no good if institutes that grant titles, qualifications, and other prerequisites for life or a profession are permitted to call themselves seats of learning. The objection that the modern state cannot otherwise produce the doctors, lawyers, and teachers it needs is irrelevant. It only illustrates the magnitude of the task entailed in creating qualified people. It only shows how far the development of the professional apparatuses (through knowledge and skill) have forced the modern disciplines to abandon their original unity in the idea of knowledge, a unity which in their eyes has now becomes a mystery, if not a fiction. Anyone who accepts the modern state as a given and believes that everything must serve its development will be forced to reject these ideas. One can only hope that such a person will not call for state protection and support for “learning.” For the true sign of decadence is not the collusion of the university and the state (something that is by no means incompatible with honest barbarity), but the theory and guarantee of academic freedom, when in reality people assume with brutal simplicity that the aim of study is to steer its disciples to a socially conceived individuality and service to the state. No tolerance of opinions and teachings, however free, can be beneficial, so long as there is no guarantee of a form of life that these ideas—the free ideas no less than the strict ones—imply, so long as people can naively deny the huge gulf between ideas and life by pointing to the link between the universities and the state.
Whereas she wished more of the population were better educated, she also believed that education was largely wasted on the majority of the people she met.
[E]ducation is a thing you get past and forget about as quickly as possible. This is particularly true of elementary and secondary education, of course…. I began to remember what it had been like: the tremendous excitement of the first couple of years, when kids imagine that great secrets are going to be unfolding before them, then the disappointment that gradually sets in when you begin to realize the truth: There’s plenty of learning to do, but it’s not the learning you wanted. It’s learning to keep your mouth shut, learning how to avoid attracting the teacher’s attention when you don’t want it, learning not to ask questions, learning how to pretend to understand, learning how to tell teachers what they want to hear, learning to keep your own ideas and opinions to yourself, learning how to look as if you’re paying attention, learning how to endure the endless boredom.
Cevin Soling | November 30, 2009 | ColbertNation.com – Cevin Soling says public schools have been transformed into prisons because of an overdependence on security. – Interesting stuff on how schools were created and how they were eventually modeled on factories in the Industrial age.