So, for years I have watched students indoctrinated into a way of being that was not in their best interests, a way of being that had them being thought for and little done to help them grow so wise as to be able to think their way through things of consequence in ways that gave them the kind of wisdom needed to make good decisions. I have seen hundreds of teachers do what they are told, even when they knew what they were being told to do was not good for those they were teaching. Resistance is always costly unless the adversary is a push over capitalism is the strongest force in the world now and its dominance is felt even more now in institutions that are supposed to educate for a free and democratic society. Schools have for so very long a time followed policies fashioned to serve business no matter what the cost to such critical aspect of human being as creativity, individuality, critical thinking, independence, and desire and willingness to get things right for the good of humanity.
Yes, I have been burning bridges for ever, since I began to think for myself and for myself fashion a notion of right and wrong that mitigated against cheaters and liars and con-men and women. I told those I taught that the schools as they were were not working for the good of democracy but, rather, to insure that there were enough dumb consumers to buy the lies and allow themselves to be cheated while thanking those who cheated them for giving them “opportunities.” Schools train minds and training has nothing to do with liberation. Schools exist to insure that people fit in, accept what they are handed, and learn not to complain too much when hurt by the system they have been trained to accept as righteous, the best possible, a system that IS the best possible because schools make sure that their trainees do not ask the questions that would get at the rouse.
I left education feeling terribly defeated. I watched the few who did resist get beaten down–beaten out of the system or beaten into compliance. Most of those who were my students seemed to understand the problem with school as training camp for the labor pool in visceral terms but, they felt a hell of a lot more comfortable in those courses in their teacher education programs that taught them how to fit in, how to get along and it was from these courses they learned how to be conveyers of the kind of “learning” that makes one good enough to do the job someone else wants one to do and incapable of doing anything about the conditions of work when those conditions become intolerable–think 210 students per day as a teaching load or having to comply with the edicts of such noxious policies as those that were enforced during the era of No child Left Behind.
I challenged my students to think for themselves and, of course, those who did found it a bit painful, especially when their thinking led them understand that they were powerless in their positions and being forced by policy to do things harmful to students and democracy. While they were doing their jobs, while they were so busy teaching hoards of students, they did not take time to read about what was happening to their “profession,” the corporate take over of schools that is just about complete now, Betsy DeVos a leader of the kind, righteous in their enormous wealth and power because such was meant to be. For the rest, accept what we leave for you and it will not be very much.
Worst of all this is the effect it has on the intellectual lives of people who are ground down and built again in the form of good workers. Why is it that we point to those we recognize as original thinkers knowing that they are something special? Because they are the rare ones who escaped the training. And that is what needs to happen now that so many know what happens when so many in the society cannot think for themselves. The critical leap that has to be made if anything good is to come of the current nasty era is to blame the system, to stop trying to save what is not only not working well, but working to kill off the last vestiges of self governance by destroying selves.
The earlier post concerning the wonderful workshops being promoted by those generous business people who want to make things better needs to be understood as emblematic of a vicious way of thinking that allows some to actually think they are doing good by making others their tools. Get sensible people! Trump is but a symptom and the educational system as it currently stands, shaped by people from you Chamber of Commerce and ALEC, has nothing to do with the welfare of your children.