Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Restructuring Inner-City Schools for the Global Marketplace: Locke High School and the Green Dot "Solution"

September 28, 2008

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Recent readings

July 9, 2008

The Colonizer and the Colonized, Thought and Language, and Waging Peace are all very good. Next up are Promoting Polyarchy, Realizing hope: life beyond capitalism, Essays on Ideology, and On War.

Kids having babies

July 7, 2008

Link

Capitalism fuels brutality

June 7, 2008

This is a reply to an article by Robert Jensen, here.

 

The point of “male locker room talk” has nothing to do with truth, but rather with militarizing the culture. It increases the brutality of the culture as a whole. I wonder how many murders, rapes, and alienation in general results largely or partially from such conversations.

Capitalism fuels not just patriarchy but brutality, on both the male and female side. When humans compete for resources it’s a zero-sum game, and anything goes. So any psychological, physical, economic or social form of aggression “within the law” is considered not just acceptable but desirable. “Male locker room talk”, which furthers this aggression, is a very good idea within a capitalist system. Dominating others, controlling others, results in profit and gain, as any honest member of the ruling class will tell you. Nowadays the preferred term is “managing” others.

So you can try whatever “reforms” or “education” you wish, but nothing positive will happen until the structural causes of brutality are destroyed. There are some curious contradictions for a professor whose bourgeois paycheck is based on the capitalist system of brutality itself. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a raise when some “male locker room” monster successfully (further) exploits the Middle East, resulting in more capital to be passed along to the directly-state-funded class of humans whose role is to articulate and control truths created by society while pretending that they are the ones who create them.

There are many forms of exploitation, and many links between the “good” people of the world and the monsters who accumulate and control wealth. Until we destroy the monsters and their system and structures, none of us can truly be good.

Book Recommendations – A Lexicon of Terror and We Make this Road by Walking

May 8, 2008

These are both excellent books – the first is about Argentina’s totalitarian regime of the 1970s/1980s and the latter is about educational methodology.

How the psychological industry is built on mass media and propaganda

May 4, 2008

This is a reply to an email. My reply is in regular print, the quote of the person I’m replying to is in italics.

I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying, but what I think I understand I disagree with. It sounds like you’re saying that many people who are suffering psychologically are actually, although they don’t recognize it, suffering from all the cruelty going on in the world that it’s beyond their control to stop. It would be pretty easy to empirically evaluate this thesis (perhaps it’s already been done). I think many more people suffer from “real” psychological problems such as manic-depression or from “real-world” problems like drug or alcohol abuse.

I very much doubt that anyone has evaluated that thesis – your stance on this matter is the status quo one. Very little of reality is ever evaluated. Systems of power have no interest in evaluation unless it serves their purpose. You said it quite well yourself in the mid ’90s when you commented about how much time was spent developing video games (unreality) – what is advertising and propaganda if not un-reality? How much time is spent on that versus analyzing truth? The Neoconservative mantra is “We create reality”. That is to say, their mantra is “Our propaganda becomes your truth”.

My thesis is based on the observation that “psychological abnormality” increased greatly during the 20th century, to the point where a shrink is on every streetcorner and the pharmaceutical industry is a behemoth.

By “real” psychological problems I assume you believe there to be primarily a genetic basis for the problems. If I’m correct about a great rise in psychological problems in the 20th century there cannot be a genetic basis for it, since the genetic profiles in question changed very little over such a short time span.

An argument against my position is that there are not more psychological problems than there used to be – it’s just that what used to be non-diagnosed now has been given a label – so what used to be a “normal” or an “unlabeled” human now might be called a “manic-depressive”.

My argument is that psychological profiles, including what are deemed “problems”, are primarily caused by the environment. My argument identifies several factors as providing major psychological and social traumas which result in “psychological abnormality”. After listing these factors I will explain why the 20th century is unique and why the problems of past centuries did not have the same psychological results.

One is the schizophrenic factor of a populace which simultaneously applauds freedom while engaging in imperialism. This factor accelerated in the mid 20th century when much of the third world gained a measure of independence.

The twin terrors of constant threats of nuclear annihilation and global environmental collapse (which boil down to the same thing) cause a kind of darkness and perpetual depression.

Massive endemic propaganda and schizophrenic doublethink, as outlined by Orwell.

More schizophrenia – support for corporations (unaccountable private tyrannies – command economies like mini-versions of the communist state) and simultaneously support for democracy.

The military-industrial complex and the notion of “perpetual war for perpetual peace”.

It’s funny how we have no problem identifying elements specific to the 20th century in some ways (like pertaining to culture) but somehow can’t quite grasp that psychology is also derived from the environment.

Propaganda derives from the rise of mass media and the public relations industry, which only became systematized by the elite in the early 20th century. Propaganda directly targets the mind – seeking to colonize it with disinformation and irrational directives. Somehow, though, the status quo position, such as outlined by yourself, which is allied with this propaganda, doesn’t seem to understand that propaganda affects psychology.

Prior to the 20th century, the major projection of power was done by force. Psychology is fairly irrelevant when facing a gun. With the “civilizing” of the state in the 20th century it switched to propaganda as the primary means of control of the populace – therefore psychological control – therefore psychological resistance by the populace – therefore psychological problems deriving from the battle over control of the mind.

Take the example of Argentina in the 1970s. This culture had perhaps the highest per capita rate of psychologists/psychiatrists in the world. It was also a fascist state which tortured and terrorized it’s citizens – and in terms of propaganda was neo-nazi. The mass media state churns out psychological victims who are then serviced by the psychology industry. It’s no surprise at all that the psychology industry and the mass media industry rose to prominence at the same time.

The role of psychologists is to control the interpretation of psychic victims – to say that “it’s all in your head” and that talking, coming to “realizations” which never have to do with the state (usually have to do with the family and/or personal traumas), and/or use of drugs is the solution. Of course the state doesn’t pay the fee despite causing the event – the fee goes to people who are accredited by the state itself (through the educational system).

There is a kind of comfort in your position. Humans always blame something they can attack – the ruling class is nearly immune from attack and therefore can’t possibly be the problem, according to the logic of comfort and convenience. However, if enough humans recognize the truth of my evaluation they will find that the ruling class can indeed be attacked, and perhaps fatally.

Critique and Proposed Revision of the Educational System

January 30, 2008

Effective teaching is one part learning and one part communication. It’s a combination of learning things (so that you can teach them) and translating that knowledge to someone who doesn’t yet have it.

Most teachers teach the same thing year after year. They are bored, they are incurious, and hence are bad teachers. Instead of teaching a single pre-determined subject, the teacher himself would be a dynamic subject-producer. That is to say, the teacher would seek to learn as much as possible that was important for students to know and would then teach that. As his knowledge changed and his focus, so would the content of the instruction.

In order for schools to be organized, administrators would evaluate the content of the teachers’ instruction so as to make sure teachers were not duplicating each other excessively (so as a situation doesn’t develop where Teacher A, Teacher B, and Teacher C all teach the same thing).

A reason that schools are organized by subject is to control learning. That is to say, they make sure that students only learn what they want them to learn. By freeing teachers to become catalysts of knowledge that all goes away.

One obstacle here is that the administrators, instead of merely seeking to avoid duplication in teaching, could of course guide the instruction itself toward certain topics or away from others. If this is a problem, the teachers themselves could do that job, but they are already both learning and teaching so their job functions start piling up at some point.

Another big problem with education is it’s role as state and cultural indoctrination. While the former revision does a lot to address that as it gives teachers more control over their content it may not be enough, considering that the state funds the educational system. Probably the best situation is for the governance in the U.S. to become democratic. At that point the elite no longer controls the content of education and there is no longer a doctrinal focus.

Looking back on my educational experience, the most I ever learned was in Drivers’ Ed. I learned how to drive in just a few hours (of driving time). Driving is a lot more complicated than algebra, yet it takes the educational system multiple years to teach algebra. The difference is that driving is practical, it’s not doctrinal, hence the state actually wants to teach people how to drive, rather than control the learning so that things aren’t taught just as much as other things are.

Consider computer or video games. Some are very complicated. Yet all can be learned in a matter of hours. Even chess, a very complicated game, can have the basics taught and learned in a few hours. (Chess, just like driving, can only be mastered with vast study and practice.) Yet again, it takes multiple years to teach algebra, geometry, english?, social science, etc. Most of the time I felt was absolutely wasted. Yet, ironically, students are supposedly “hard workers” when they do english homework yet are “lazy” when they intensely learn a video game in a few hours. Orwell would be weeping. It’s funny that video games are called an escape. They are, perhaps, but they aren’t so much escaping education as actually getting one. An escape from the poverty of the state.

This knowledge has not hit the mainstream. Whether left, right, or center, the vast majority of Americans don’t have any critique at all of education. Until they do, they’ll only have ignorant solutions and we’ll only have horrible results.

The State economic system

January 15, 2008

Here’s the way the system works:

“Free education” – whereby the state indoctrinates children into “American values” by which they mean social control and propaganda, found in both the material (pro-capitalist pro-western), in omissions (such as almost everything concerning the genocide of indigenous americans), and in distortions. Who decides what “American values” are? I decide American Values are concern for the well being of all people, concern for the environment, etc, not the garbage the state spews and calls it “American values”.

Then once the child gets done with that form of abuse he gets a job:

Employers only employ people who have come through this state-controlled “free education”. They don’t ask “What education do you have?”, they ask “What college did you graduate from?” If one didn’t graduate from a college, employers say he “doesn’t have a good education”. Which is completely false but they are blinded by propaganda and by an unconscious desire to support the state and can’t see it.

If you shout out “private education!” you’re not saying anything, because the same culture that the state controls and propagates is transmitted by institutions that are intimate to that culture, such as institutions not directly run by the state (such as private schools as well as mainstream media as well as countless other things).

And once the new adult, having gone through a childhood of utter control and abuse, which is invisible to him in most cases, is locked into the state-supported economic system, he then abuses everyone who doesn’t accept that system! That’s right, everyone who doesn’t accept that system and enter into it is lazy, he’s a “good for nothing bum”, he’s “not worthy of being supported by my tax dollars”, oh no! If I have to be a controlled and manipulated slave then by God everyone else must also be!

To these wealthy slaves, poor people are stupid, ignorant, lazy, pathetic cretins, welfare queens leeching off society, spurting out more leeches from their leech-vaginas.

The most dangerous noose to have around your neck is the one you never see. Frogs never notice being boiled alive when the heat is turned up slowly.

Intellectuals and the Institution: What’s in the Service of the Nation?

December 3, 2007

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Autonomous Education

November 23, 2007

Link

Why only one thing? – Know Your Role

November 1, 2007

On all of the lots and lots of occasions in schools when my classmates and I were asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” kids always said just one thing. Sometimes it would be an “or” but never an “and”. So “firefighter or baseball player” but never “firefighter and baseball player”. Usually it wasn’t even an or. The ridiculousness of a 4th grader planning out his future life was never noted by the teacher asking the question – it never is noted by indoctrinators. I always was depressed by the answers… some 4th grader, or 6th grader, or 8th grader (strangely enough though or perhaps not strangely enough, the question was mostly asked when we were very young) who in his dream of dreams wants to be only one thing, play only one role in society. A tool of the state.

It’s remarkable that anyone can make it through the educational system without being warped for life. Perhaps noone does.

Overcoming Zionism

October 30, 2007

Link

Norman Finkelstein interview

September 18, 2007

Link

Pinky Show Fanzine

September 5, 2007

Link

An answer to that

August 30, 2007

From Ray McGovern,

“Think about the ’30s, in Germany. I spent, with my family, five years in Germany, working there, in the ’60s and ’70s, and had all manner of opportunities to ask people young and old how could it possibly be, how could it be that you, among the most highly educated highly cultured people in the Western world – how could you sit by and not find your voice when Hitler was doing those things. How could it be that your churches – your Catholic churches could not find their voice, with very few exceptions {unclear} the primary one, and I still haven’t gotten an answer to that”

This is my response to Ray:

The process of education in the West is primarily one of indoctrination and social control, secondarily of knowledge. Therefore the more extensive the educational system is in a country and the greater impact it has on it’s people the more compliant and obedient those people become to whatever authority happens to be in power.

It is a monstrous lie to convince people that the only learning they can undertake in their lives is through the educational system. Yet this lie has taken deep roots in all modern industrial societies, unexamined by the vast majority of the people who believe it.

It is precisely the people fully indoctrinated, that is to say fully educated, who become unable to think, unable to examine their lives and the world around them. They believe that the state has given them so much, this education that they hold so dear, their livelihood, their lovely wife, their children, their present, their future, that to go against that power, to go against that institution, is tantamount to biting the hand that feeds them. A truth shared by most other dogs.
The power of the state ultimately is about owning and controlling it’s citizens. It’s time we took a close look at just how effective the state is at doing just that.

You’re concerned about fascism in America. Welcome to the club. There’s a simple question to pose to determine whether fascism is coming: “Does the state own the people or do the people own the state”?

Link

The quote starts from about 14:05.

A quote from “A People’s History of the United States”

August 16, 2007

This is a great work by Howard Zinn, highly recommended.

From Page 263: “The rich, giving part of their enormous earnings in this way, became known as philanthropists. These educational institutions did not encourage disent; they trained the middlemen in the American system – the teachers, doctors, lawyers, administrators, engineers, technicians, politicians – those who would be paid to keep the system going, to be loyal buffers against trouble.
In the meantime, the spread of public school education enabled the learning of writing, reading, and arithmetic for a whole generation of workers, skilled and semiskilled, who would be the literate labor force of the new industrial age. It was important that these people learn obedience to authority. A journalist observer of the schools in the 1890s wrote: “The unkindly spirit of the teacher is strikingly apparent; the pupils, being completely subjugated to her will, are silent and motionless, the spiritual atmosphere of the classroom is damp and chilly.”

This is not just in the 1890s of course… the same model is used today.

Indoctrination – why we need a new educational system

August 13, 2007

In a speech class in college I noticed during my reading of the textbook that every recommendation of the book, every focus, was on the style of the speech. It was designed to manipulate, control, and allow for deceit of the audience. When I objected I was told there was no other book.

In an accounting class in college the textbook had a large section on minimizing taxes. No mention was made of paying *fair* taxes, just on minimizing them as if the point was to do everything possible to pay the least taxes without breaking the law. When I objected the instructor looked at me as if I was insane – I suspect he’d never received a comment like that before. He probably had never had a thought of that kind before. Of course taxes are a horrible burden that should be minimized. Of course.

When I think of the horrific values and outright errors and lies perpetuated on me during my high school and prior education, I wonder what my life would have been like had I been aware of them at the time. Probably even more miserable as a result of the abuse I would inevitably have received for bearing and expressing that knowledge. God bless the people who believe this expression results in “gaining respect”. They may join the real world at some point in the future. Domination has no time for respect. Power wants only submission.

Any system of domination is abusive and damaging, even if the system is just, wise, and true. And when the system is far from just, wise, or true, the abuse is all the worse.

People are still laboring under this notion that only people of color are oppressed, that only women are oppressed, that only socialists and leftists are oppressed. NO. In a system of domination everyone is oppressed. The effects of abusing someone are devastating on both the abuser and the abused. We shouldn’t change the system because there is such a thing as an oppressed class, we should change the system because under any system of domination every human being is oppressed. Freedom for one is freedom for all. Slavery for any is slavery for all.

A mere glance at propaganda teaches us this. The most propagandized humans are the most abusive ones. The most oppressed humans are those who carry out the teachings of the propaganda. The “rich white man” is the most enslaved… he has no free mind, only an oppressive one. It is the lowest class, the poorest humans, who are the most free, because propaganda doesn’t care about them and thus doesn’t focus on them.

It’s like selling your soul to the devil. The rich white man gains wealth but loses his mind and his humanity. The poor man sacrifices wealth and therefore keeps his mind and humanity.

Transforming the world, revolutionizing the world into democratic socialism, truth, justice, and freedom is not for the poor people… it’s for all people.

Reforming Education

April 18, 2007

The educational system in America (and probably to an extent in many other countries as well) has one major problem: it’s not primarily about education.

Here’s the process: a student sits in a seat in front of a teacher. The teacher describes the assignment. The primary responsibility of the student is to *follow the assignment*.

Here’s an analogy: let’s say you tell someone to go to a store and buy a gallon of milk. Your range of grades, from A to F, may be determined by several factors: the time it takes him to do this, the price he paid for the milk, the resources he used on the way, or others.

The entire range of grades is framed by a very narrow procedure: the necessity of getting the milk. Let’s say that instead of getting the milk the student decides that helping a cat out of a tree is more important. He may even give the milk to the cat instead of returning it. What grade does he get?

From experience I’ll tell you: usually either a C or a D. Not following instructions is considered the biggest problem by those who call themselves educators. It would be an F if not for the benefits of helping cats and giving them milk. Educators aren’t heartless.

Take a look at the comparison between two students: one who blindly follows instructions and one who thinks for himself: since the first student doesn’t need to put any energy into thinking he can maximize his efficiency in obtaining the milk, thus maximizing his grade. EVEN IF the other student carries out his assignment he does so while considering the world and it’s many possibilities, thus lowering his efficiency with respect to a pre-determined goal. Furthermore, the first student gets to put that assignment behind him and move on to maximizing his efficiency with respect to the next assignment. The latter student gets to explain to the teacher why he’s being a “troublemaker”. Teachers hate troublemakers far more than they hate stupidity or ignorance. You see, stupidity and ignorance can be *fixed*. Troublemakers don’t want to be fixed… they want to fix education. You might say “wait a second, only Authoritarian institutions want to fix and prevent being fixed”. Yep, you might be onto something there.

By making grades largely about obedience, we find the primary purpose and result of the educational system: obedience training. Students are not being educated (except within a narrow range), they are being taught to obey authority.

Successful students wear blinders they don’t even realize exist… education goes on long enough that most of these people are unable to take off those blinders for the rest of their lives, making them tools of the state or any other institution of power. Many of these people are even happy… blindness can certainly lead to that. What you don’t see you don’t need to think about and deal with.

The more aware among the blind can be exploited even more easily: while the blind are ignorant of the worldview and motivations of the “troublemakers” the half-blind who understand they are slaves to the power system turn their hatred upon the troublemakers who remind them of their own awareness. The troublemakers, since they are available for attack, become blamed for the consciousness of the weak half-blinds. In turn this only fuels the self-hatred of the half-blinds since they recognize that the only true enemy for them is the power system itself which they deem themselves too weak to face.

I give a sad smile when I see idealistic troublemakers who think all it takes is opening people’s eyes and everything will be great. That’s merely the *beginning* of a very long, difficult, and exciting road. Only after the war that results from those who hate their own consciousness and those they blame for it will possible greatness ensue.

The blinds get small pleasure from “success” where they define success as frantically following orders and define pleasure by a master’s pat on the head. The “troublemakers” get pleasure from the fight itself, the continual struggle for their own creative existence. They see every pat on the head for its condescension.

A start to reforming education is fairly simple: every troublemaker has to justify what he’s doing, every obeyer has to justify what he’s doing, and every teacher has to justify what he’s doing. For example, when an obeyer hands in an assignment, he has to include *why* he followed the assignment and didn’t act as a troublemaker. Likewise when a troublemaker hands in an assignment he has to include *why* he didn’t follow the assignment and act as an obeyer. Likewise, when a teacher assigns something he has to include WHY he is assigning it. Any of these things can be challenged and debated by any party involved.

In terms of grades I’m not sure. Chomsky seems to think they should be abolished. I’m not convinced of that. However, any grade for any assignment should include the quality of his argument for why he followed or did not follow the assignment.

You might think it’s a lot to ask a 1st grader to make such arguments, but you think that partly because Authoritarian systems have taught 1st graders not to make such arguments. Of course a child’s natural development will be taken into consideration with respect to what he is capable of doing. From personal experience I can say in 4th grade I was ready to make such arguments, and would have in a culture more conducive to it.

Tasering of a 200 lb. 11 year old

December 1, 2006

From http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/clayton/stories/2006/11/29/1130mettaser.html

“I hope students can come to school with the mindset to learn and not engage in behavior that requires these type of measures.”

Funny, “these types of measures” have never been used in the past to deal with this exact situation, you fucking fascist. Gotta love the barely-veiled threat this piece of work is issuing to the students. Why stop with tasering, why not just blow the head off any kid who fights? That’ll teach those bastards!

“In the presence of several adults, including the female armed security officer, the argument quickly got out of control.”

So… *several* adults, including a *security officer* of all things couldn’t pull a 200 lb. kid off someone, instead having to taser him… twice?

Basically what tasering does is avoids risk to the officer. While that in and of itself is fine, avoiding risk should not be done where accepting some risk results in a considerably better situation, as would be achieved by pulling the kid away and restraining him.

This demonstrates why its not a good idea to give a taser to a coward.

On Extra-Human Reparations

October 21, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/19/education/19brown.html?ref=education

A problem with these kinds of reparations is that they don’t do anything honest. They do do something *dishonest*.
The people who receive them are not the victims, and the people giving them are not the perpetrators.

You may very well WANT to forget, to set aside, to revise, to wish something never happened, but unless you do something meaningful toward those aims you will not succeed. Sometimes you need to accept the past.
*Now*, now these people will have to *pretend* they’ve succeeded, in order for us not to think they were stupid for making this attempt. Now when I tell them “nothing’s changed” they’ll get to protest vigorously that Yes It Has! And they’ll point not to their emotions and results of them, but to this *event* as proof! See, see what we did to make things change!

Now they will say “We don’t need to talk about this issue anymore, because we *fixed* it”.

You can’t buy out the past with the present. Only a fucking cynic would think you could.

Hypocrisy is coming, friends.

Another element here is personal responsibility. Why should I bother to do good when my descendants 200 years from now can fix things, *if* the victims of my crimes are still around and in a position to ask. Its *my* responsibility to pay for my crimes.

So much for the Underdog

October 21, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/19/nyregion/19kindergarten.html?ref=education

This is Anti-American. Its also counter-intuitive… I learn the most when I’m around smart(er) people. Ensuring that your child is older, smarter, than his classmates, might help his classmates, but it doesn’t help him.

The theory is that educational success is based on confidence, and that the child will be more confident if he’s more knowledgeable, more socially advanced, etc. In my estimation, educational success is *not* based on confidence.

Its just the other way around… the most successful people are the humble, those who use their environment to their own advantage, those who are receptive to learning, those who feel they *must* learn, perhaps even *need* to learn.

Top Dog? Why bother learning?… his classmates will learn from *him*.

Its alarming that parents no longer seem to understand this.