Thursday, May 10, 2007

The destructive trap of American education

I received an email for People For the American Way. I don't have anything to say about them one way or another, but I noticed an ad for Blue State Coffee on the webmail and clicked the link landing on their Causes page. One of their causes is Even Start. The blurb for Even Start goes like this:

Even Start Family Literacy Programs are school-community partnerships that help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by integrating early childhood education, adult literacy or adult basic education, and parenting education into a unified family literacy program. [emphasis added]

The words "help break the cycle of poverty" immediately brought to mind that what actually breaks the cycle of poverty is decent wages so that anyone employed in any job is able to feed, clothe, and house themselves and their family if they have one. So I gotta ask, how is an education going to get anyone a good paying job when so many of them are going overseas, especially when they have lower labor costs? And what about rural communities that have so few jobs most people have to move elsewhere to find decent paying work?

Barbara Ehrenreich's piece The Higher Education Scam at HuffPost contains this:
My theory is that employers prefer college grads because they see a college degree chiefly as [a] mark of one's ability to obey and conform. Whatever else you learn in college, you learn to sit still for long periods while appearing to be awake. And whatever else you do in a white collar job, most of the time you'll be sitting and feigning attention. Sitting still for hours on end -- whether in library carrels or office cubicles -- does not come naturally to humans. It must be learned -- although no college has yet been honest enough to offer a degree in seat-warming.
Additionally, there's this article about The Education Scam. The only important section is "Will College Educations End Poverty." Although he doesn't support his numbers with references the premise of this section rings true enough in the same way that not every single person in the world can be an entrepreneur without there ever being an employee.

An article by Gary North at is also good as is the blog that references it.

There is a fair amount here that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. More importantly, they only provide a very small amount of insight into the lie that schools have anything to do with education.

This is not to say that schools do not or cannot provide an opportunity for genuine learning, especially at the college level given the sheer amount of books one can learn from. Especially books for classes that are outside one's major. One such book is John Taylor Gatto's "Dumbing Us Down" (see also this essay for the "lessons" the book is about) which deals specifically with what our schools actually teach children rather than what people are led to believe about it. That so few people even question the premise that getting an education is the road to success despite having survived the mind numbing experience themselves is testimony to the success of dumbing people down to the point they cease to think at all and will swallow most anything the "experts" tell them.

To understand how we got here it is critical to understand the history of public schooling in America which Gatto provides in this article Against Schooling as well his book "The Underground History of American Education."

Despite all the information that is contained in the links and even in this post, it is vitally important to follow the advice that John Keating (Robin Williams) in "Dead Poets Society" gives his students when he tells them, "when you read, don't just consider what the author thinks. Consider what you think."

Our children are growing up even more absurdly now than when Paul Goodman's "Growing Up Absurd" was first published in 1956. And now we are pushing this absurdity earlier and earlier on children with such programs as Even Start, Head Start, school readiness, and all that "early learning" stuff that can begin even before birth by playing music specifically aimed at the unborn child within. That parents have bought into this shows me the extent to which mind and behavior control is being exerted to ensure that children born today will never know a day that is truly free of any authoritarian control.

I make a big deal out of this because of one question, the age-old question of: how are people really supposed to live? The current paradigm of American life is inherently self-destructive and we must begin to understand our existence outside the tiny little boxes our minds have been put in. As the title of this blog is Free Thinker, I believe that the way to free the mind is to understand what traps it.