Education and the Pursuit of Happiness
Education can be a one-way ticket to nowhere with no refunds. Education, especially public education, cannot live up to the unrealistic expectation that it is the great equalizer between the lower and middle classes and the country's elite.
Education does not create access and upward mobility in this culture--money does. The argument for education is that more education equals more money. For many vocations, this argument is dubious, especially in this increasingly oppressive corporate culture that does not recognize education because that recognition equates to more money into the hands of educated employees.
Instead, public education is an instrument of socialization and the pertinent question is: Who's driving the school bus? In public education there is a hierarchical structure in place from the top down as follows: federal government, state government, local school board, administration, teachers and, finally, students. Add to this mixed bag the competing interest of the corporate class to create a social environment full of passive consumers, and it is clear that the interests of students are not driving education. If education is primarily for students, then it seems logical that education would be primarily determined by students. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Public education has taken the place of the Church and the government has grown into its pastoral role.
Most public school systems purport their responsibility to develop democratic citizens. This is a just goal. However, democracy cannot be taught but practiced. Schools should not be social incubators for twelve years until children become productive citizens. With it becoming increasingly necessary for students to achieve higher education to enter the workforce, this social incubation period has been stretched to sixteen years and beyond. Students are citizens and they should be given a voice equal to bureaucrats. We have seen our bureaucrats act like spoiled children; are we afraid that our children may rise up and act like adults?
Students, or children, can perform meaningful work and should be given opportunities to do so. In school children perform a majority of tasks that are only of use in school. This insular form of education disconnects work and value, stifles creativity, and, at best, offers examples of practical applications supposedly to be used later in life. Children are due dignity, though culturally they are often accorded very little. Schooling via curriculum that is only applicable in school does not demonstrate to children that their capabilities are valued and that children are, in fact, burgeoning adults.
Social theorist Charles Fourier adroitly pointed out that methods of civilization save in rare exceptions, employ everyone in a capacity contrary to his vocation. Civilization connects individuals to vocations contrary to their nature in order to perpetuate current systems of control, therefore limiting the upward mobility that education claims is possible. It does not have to be this way. Gandhi suggested another way. Real education," he said, "consists in drawing the best out of yourself. This side road is difficult to see because it has not often been driven. Perhaps we should get off the school bus and walk for awhile.
Related Tags: education, learning, students, change, school, government, public, schooling, socialization, teachers, administration, radical
Kevin Del Principe is a playwright, poet, and teacher. His writings challenge unjust cultures, and suggest the creation of reciprocal relationships in their place.Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles
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