What Passes for Education In America Is Often Just Indoctrination

The basic model and function of education is by and large not seriously questioned at all – Published on AlterNet /Education, by Elliot Sperber, July 26, 2013.

The ancient Athenians had a name for people who were unable to participate in and determine the course of public life:  idiote. It is from this that our word idiot derives. And though we live in so-called democracies, these days very few of us are not idiots in this powerless respect. To be sure, though he doesn’t phrase it in such a manner, in his Theses on Feuerbach Karl Marx draws attention to just this intersection of these two meanings of idiot (fool and dominated subject). 

The point of philosophy, he states, is to change the world. But the world cannot be meaningfully changed without interpretation. And who is to educate the educators? This leads us to a problem. The idiot (who is unable to interpret the world) is inextricable from the idiote—who cannot change it.

When considering how to rectify the various forms of political idiocy that are produced and reproduced by this society, one of the most obvious things that comes to mind is education. After all, at its best education is indistinct from broadening minds, opening eyes, and aiding in the contemplation of our mysterious existences—not to mention solving the problems such contemplation brings to consciousness. As the early-20th-century philosopher John Dewey put it: Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.

At its worst, however, education is arguably not even education at all. What passes for education is, more often than not, merely indoctrination. And such is the condition of virtually all levels of education in the US today. Subjected to the demands of the market and the state, rather than facilitating a good faith examination of the world, education functions as a massive industry busy creating and recreating this society’s “idiotic” projects, along with its ideologies. Rather than critical thought, it is but a tool of a type of thought so uncritical it leads one to wonder whether it even qualifies as thought at all … //

… Nursing and medical schools could train doctors and nurses who could, in turn, run and support community health clinics. Engineering, design, and architecture departments, in concert with ecology departments, could attend to the community’s basic heating, plumbing, housing, and transportation needs, among others. Art and cinema departments could flourish within each community. Dispute resolution programs could help resolve disputes within the community in non-punitive ways. Journalism departments could support the journalism that is vital for an informed public.

In cooperation with one another in regional, and inter-regional networks, such community colleges could not only share what they produce, and organize events such as film festivals, they could attend to the problems of their particular community entirely beyond the profit-based demands of the physically, psychologically and environmentally destructive market-economy, and beyond the State as well.

And though it may sound farfetched—utopian even—to suggest that such a reimagining of the institution of education could contribute toward the overcoming of our present-day political idiocy, over the course of human history far stranger things have actually happened.
(full text).

(Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and contributor to hygiecracy.blogspot.com. He lives in New York City and can be reached here).

Links:

8 Things You Should Know About Corporations Like Pearson that Make Huge Profits from Standardized Tests, on AlterNet/Education, by Alyssa Figueroa http://www.alternet.org/authors/alyssa-figueroa
August 6, 2013;

North Carolina Becomes the Front Line of a Brutal Corporate Assault on Education Raging in America: The final Moral Monday protest of 2013 in Raleigh focused on the future of schools in a once-progressive state, on AlterNet/Activism, by Kristin Rawls, July 31, 2013;

Edward Snowden/Knowledge (of Metadata) Is Power, on the Blog HYGIECRACY, july 2, 2013;

Political Idiocy: Hey Idiot, on Counterpunch, by ELLIOT SPERBER, April 10, 2013.

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