Same All Over??

As readers of this blog know, I have gone on (and on) about the deteriorating condition of education in this country. I have tended to focus on the United States because that is where I live and our system is the one I know best — from reading and from personal experience. But I find that things are not much better in many other parts of the world (except Finland, apparently) and have read timely criticisms from other bloggers in England, Canada, and most recently in India where I read a couple of entries written by a blogger who calls himself “MrUpbeat.” In one of those posts he noted that:

“Our education system is still teaching us how to become clerks and do what [we are] being told to do. Have we become habituated to do what is commanded to us ?”

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist I do wonder aloud if there is a concerted effort being made in this country to keep the young dumb and obedient (“clerks”) so they can do the jobs allotted to them and Heaven forbid they be made to think.  Years ago, In Italy, one of the leading radicals,  Antonio Gramsci, insisted that students be taught the classics that make them think rather than the grunt courses that teach them only how to make widgets and follow orders. Gramsci was convinced that in his day and in his country the wealthy had developed a hegemonic culture using ideology rather than violence, economic force, or coercion. Those in power, he noted, propagate their own values and norms so that those values become the common sense values of all and thus maintain the status quo.  Noam Chomsky would agree, as he told us not long ago, referring to America:

“[Officials insist] This country is filling up with thousands and millions of voters, and you must educate them to keep them from our throats. But educated the right way: Limit their perspectives and understanding, discourage free and independent thought, and train them for obedience.”

I know my complaints against an obdurate educational system in this country that has serious problems become tiresome. I do apologize. But this is a pattern that is developing around the world and it does not bode well. We need folks who can think and solve problems now more than ever — and in a democracy we need citizens who will elect the wisest leaders (not fools even if they claim to be a “genius”). So many of the complaints we all have and which we air from day-to-day come down to an uneducated electorate that is frustrated and acts on impulse and is finding it increasingly difficult to find its way out of the proverbial paper bag.

In one sense it is reassuring to read blogs from around the world that reinforce one’s own thoughts. But when those thoughts are based on a deep concern for the system of education that is unable to turn out thoughtful young people it is disheartening to hear others around the world share the same concerns.


12 thoughts on “Same All Over??

  1. You are right Hugh… There is an element of control in education. From the time we are born, to the time we die, we are told by the ‘state’ (no matter which in the world), how to raids our young, school them, immunize them, prepare them for work, keep them working with the minimum health care required to keep them purchasing and in debt (to the state), promise them a holiday now and then (so they can purchase more stuff/goods/services), promise a minimum income for when they are too old to work productively (so they can keep purchasing) and then they die.

    For the few that do spend time on education and learning, they see through the fog of deception and write blogs about how bad the system is.

    If I sound sarcastic, it is not pointed at you. It is frustration at a life that is not a life for most, but an existence that has been predetermined.

    Try to break away from the system and you will end up destitute or more likely in prison.

    We were born onto an earth that provided everything… We didn’t have to buy it. We lived in family groups and much like the other animals taking what we needed… Every one of us had equal opportunity to exist within our family, learn and share and pass it on to our young for them to continue. When we were tired, we rested. When we were hungry, we searched out food together. We loved and played together.

    All the centuries of development have not improved our emotional, physical or mental condition.
    Education could have done a much better job I think.

    • If education were doing its job, there would be plenty of time — and the folks with ability — to learn the important things later on. Schooling is just the start, but as things now stand the start is stalled.

      • Hugh, it is much more sinister than that.

        We are living in a very controlled world. There are so many people who will never see that freedom of education you so desire.

        If you look at the history of the Lakota Nation, you will see what I mean. This YouTube video tells their story quite well.

        When the world uses oppression and genocide tactics on a continual basis, there is only a privileged few who will see the freedom to learn whatever they want.

  2. Dear Hugh,

    I couldn’t agree more. Just think of those revised history books in the south or why in certain areas, teachers are constrained from teaching evolution.

    This is a tough issue to discuss in a few words. We all have some ideas.

    I have been thinking on this subject If I had a wand, I would teach children to be as self sufficient as possible at an early age. If children are able to control their own little worlds, like keeping their own room clean, getting dressed themselves, doing their own laundry, simple cooking, gardening etc., they can then control better what they learn. It doesn’t cost a lot for children to learn how to take advantage of the the local libraries or to do their own plays, how to get around on a bus to visit museums on free days.etc.

    I would not make the mistake of relying on schools solely for one’s education..

    The reason that I say this, I have noticed that both my children (one with autism) who are older adults are always learning and reading. If children have a love for learning and if they are given the tools, they will make things work.

    I would like most schools to return to offering robust shop classes and life skill classes where young peoples learn a whole host of skills like sewing, how to do basic home repairs, budgeting, shopping, cooking, gardening.

    I have this theory that when one is self-sufficient then one becomes more confident and more self motivated.

    I would NEVER limit children in what I think they can learn and this is what too many school do.

    In my opinion, how to educate children well has become over politicized.

    Hugs, Gronda

  3. I do agree that education is pretty awful everywhere, except for a minority of schools. That is one of the reasons why so many of us in the states and other places, I am sure, are pulling our kids out of school to give them a classical education at home, one that involves creative thinking to solve problems. I never thought that I would be homeschooling, but here I am! Thank you for your thoughts.

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