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Leadership and Activism, Philosophical Meanderings, Student Voices

You Have the “Right” to Remain Stupid: What America & Wall St. Really Wants for Children

We educate our youth with the intention of eradicating ignorance, hate, selfishness, greed and bigotry through empowering youth to challenge societal obstacles, enabling visionaries to envision and imaginers to imagine, and to give children a chance to free themselves from the societal constraints in which they find themselves soldered to. Without education none of this would happen, ignorance would thrive blissfully, radicalization would blaze through society, empowerment would not be sought, challenge would not desired, visionaries would be visionless, and imaginers would no longer imagine.

Artwork of: _Beraka

We are said to educate with the intention to prepare, to enable future generations to continue supporting the dream of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” and to secure the freedoms and protections we enjoy today.  However, it’s becoming steadily visible that we are educating without that vision of empowerment and eradication. Today, it’s becoming steadily apparent  that education has been hijacked by those who enjoy the societal regression that America is currently enjoying, those who enjoy greed and who bask in self interest and shallowness. It’s becoming apparent that we no longer care for the dream of the ability to pursue happiness, in part because it doesn’t do justice for the hunger of power and money that most of America’s adult’s desire today.

However, its educations failure that has attributed to modern day presence of the statements mentioned above. The continual integration of bigotry, radicalization, hate, ignorance, and greed combined with the continuous denial of imagination, ingenuity, challenge and empowerment in public education has caused America to lose sight of its core values and beliefs. Over the past decades, we have pushed children into institutions that have both openly and passively embedded societies inability to understand people of different cultures into a system that has literally assisted society in its continuous game of hate mongering. Over the past decades we have toned down the openness of our hate mongering ways but those ways still live passively through our educational system and it’s that passive hate that has slowly and quietly but surely turned education into a system in which enslavement of children is thriving and power is no longer abundant.  Today, the older generation has literally waged war against America’s youth, with ingenious plan to imprison and impede through means of debt or prison time through means of education which is unfortunately compulsory. Entrapped at age 5 and remaining entrapped until 21, Children become nothing more than indentured servants of a system that provides a bleak outlook. Children today are funneled through what mainstream media has dubbed as “pipelines”, one pipeline being wide and high-pressured, funneling children directly into the corrupt judiciary system and the other being complex and dynamic, and funneling children into institutions where they are forced to succumb to the banks of Wall St. where they become indentured servants of a system of debt.

Nevertheless, it’s up to America’s children to fight back and to declare our own occupation of education and the inequalities that have been waged against us. For too long now adults have made it painstakingly clear that they have no interest in equally educating us and that they rather pursue power and money instead of equitable education. Now, it’s up to us to order them to cease and desist their complex destruction of our education system and for us to lean on the adults who have not been blinded by the false happiness greed and limited power brings.


8 thoughts on “You Have the “Right” to Remain Stupid: What America & Wall St. Really Wants for Children

  1. Jabreel, your post reminds me that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” came from Thomas Hobbes’s natural rights – life, liberty, and property, and that when the United States Constitution talks about securing “the blessings of liberty,” it’s talking about the maintenance of private property rights. At some point – surely before the United States officially began – the institutional, systemic “we” – the “man,” so to speak – bestowed upon people of privilege the double-edge notion that what we “earn” should be “ours,” and that government should protect “our” gains. As a citizenry, we have embraced the blessings of liberty more than we have embraced a much more important principle of Constitutional government – promoting the general welfare. Clearly, fiscally and in terms of human and academic capital, there are times when securing the blessings of liberty – individuals’ property rights – comes into conflict with promoting the general welfare.

    What would an unconditional education look like, and how do we make sure its available to all children? Despite our claims to offer universal education, we, as a country, clearly do not offer a public education that is in any way universal in its quality or availability. Are schools part of the solution or part of the problem? Could communities do a better job of connecting “teachers” and “students” outside the pipeline?

    Do schools secure the blessings of liberty, promote the general welfare, or engage in a ambiguous mix of the two? When and where do we begin educating ourselves and our children about the differences between securing the divisive present and promoting a more human, humane, and equitable future?

    All the best,

    Posted by Chad Sansing | January 3, 2012, 9:12 am
  2. “Our” nation-state and its people are not ahistorical. At school, we are taught ‘history’ so we might know what happened and how “we” came to be. At least that is what we are told; as some say, “It may be His story, but it is not Our story.”

    Billy Joel’s song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” ( ) provides a near-history view (1949-1989) of what led to “America today” – some of us experienced many of those events. Chad referred to the USA’s birth principles and principals – back when none of us was alive.

    The referenced video leads to consideration of the “militaryindustrial complex” that President Dwight D. Eisehnower warned of when he left office in 1961 ( ). To be sure, he was not the first to note the relationship of military, industry and government, for that is the heart of Eastern, Mid-Eastern and Western feudal societies.

    Chad alluded to a possible reason the Magna Carta ( )and Carta de Foresta ( )are seldom raised for discussion at America’s schools. At the joining of these charters was a semblance of balance between power-elites and free commoners. Still, a divisive problem existed at the point where patriarchy, “noblesse oblige”, asserted authority over non-landholders.

    As an attorney, I view the U.S. Constitution as a legal framework for maintaining property rights and power. Those rights, largely enjoyed by power-elites, have no counterpart, no balance; there is an absence of subsistence “Forest rights” for the free commoners.

    We “learn” the Constitution protects us and provides us “rights”. I suppose that if enough people believe that, it is true, or it is at least a “social truth”.

    Perhaps students should be taught, learn and allowed to talk about “their story” rather than “his story” – what do you think?

    Posted by Brent Snavely | January 3, 2012, 11:17 am
  3. I agree that the current emphasis on homogenizing curriculum via top-down imposition of standards and standardized tests is damaging the ability of schools to teach students to be critical of the status quo. The “education reform” movement is imposing this narrowing disproportionately on kids of color from low income communities too… furthering segregation and an opportunity gap.

    You are right to question the purpose of school. Many adults (and far too many kids) will tell you that the point of school is to get a good job and make lots of money, or that it’s to compete with China or India for economic dominance. I think that your suggestion that school should educate students to be willing and able to identify and tear down injustices and create the society that actually increases satisfaction and happiness is a good one.

    Current social science research is demonstrating that above a the money needed for basic needs, additional money does not increase happiness or satisfaction very much. The founders may have considered “live, liberty and the pursuit of property,” but they chose to change “property” to “happiness” for a reason – or at least we know now that property and happiness are not the same thing. The pursuit of property in our consumerist society where profit seeking trumps all other values is actually reducing human satisfaction on a grand scale while destroying the Earth’s capacity to maintain life at an increasing rate.

    Keep questioning the “why” of school. Question the “how” of school. Question the “who controls” school to what ends. This is the education reform debate we should be having…. it should be led by people like you who are in it and understand it, not just by Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee and Pearson Publishing.

    Keep up the great work.

    Posted by phillip cantor (@phillipcantor) | January 3, 2012, 12:54 pm
  4. Once upon a time, I worked as a tutor, teacher’s aide, and “special programs person” in the public schools and briefly thought of getting my teacher’s certification. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that schools don’t always appreciate creative, “outside-the-box thinkers” who make suggestions for change. In fact, it’s a great way to get written up – or fired.

    As many of my extremely bright, creative, and talented students figured out: School isn’t about learning, it’s about control. Children’s natural ability to learn is replaced with a false dependency on their teachers and the institution of school. Survival in the public school system (for students and teachers) means following rules – even if they don’t make sense.

    In order to change the public school system, we need to bring in people who are really invested in change, not maintaining the status quo. We need to recruit future teachers from the top 10% of their class – not the bottom third (Sorry, I was in college admissions, so I saw teaching applicants’ GPA’s and SAT scores. I also have a background in gifted education. Your “best and brightest” avoid teaching in favor of other, more lucrative careers.).

    We also need to talk to students and ask them what they think they need, in terms of their education. If they could create their own school, what would it be like? I’ve asked those questions for years and have received some very interesting responses. Most want it to be more creative, more challenging (not just “death by worksheet!), and they want to be treated with respect.

    Public schools were established during the Industrial Revolution to provide a way to “warehouse” kids while their parents worked on the assembly lines. You might be surprised to learn that many aspects inherent to public education like moving to class at the sound of the bell and receiving stickers or awards for good behavior actually were derived from psychologist B.F. Skinner’s animal experiments. Both he, and John Dewey, the “father of education”, were socialists.

    But don’t take my word for it, check out “The Conspiracy of Ignorance: The Failure of American Public Schools” by Martin L. Gross, “Dumbing Us Down: The HIdden Curricululm of Compulsory Schooling” and “The Underground History of Education” by John Taylor Gatto. As for my kids, they asked to be removed from public school to be homeschooled. They designed their own education and received scholarships to college.

    Posted by Dori Staehle | January 7, 2012, 5:38 pm
  5. My husband and I are honored and blessed to share our home with two incredible young humans. Jeremiah is 10, and Annalise will celebrate her “half-birthday”, and officially be 7.5, tomorrow.

    Neither of them have ever attended school. Neither of them, at this point in their lives, has any desire to.

    When Jeremiah was “kindergarten -age” (the quotes are because I no longer think in those terms), I took this bright boy who loved lines, angles, building, puzzles, big questions, and conducting ‘experiments” of his own design, and sat him at the kitchen table “to learn”.

    I didn’t use a packaged curriculum, but I made him do a lot of workbook pages. I made him draw a volcano, and show what was happening inside. I read the story of Abe Lincoln aloud; we went to see a touring copy of the Emancipation Proclamation; we timed a reading of the Gettysburg Address; and we charred a sharpened stick in our wood stove, so that he could “write like Abe”.

    Somehow, it never occurred to me that my hero might not be HIS hero. It also didn’t occur to me that no one had directed the learning of my hero. He was, with the exception of a few weeks of schooling, self-taught.

    For us, it came to a head over reading.

    Jeremiah was just getting the hang of it, and I could see that the breakthrough was imminent. Feeling he just needed confidence, I demanded he try more and harder. He became confused and stressed; I became frustrated and even more demanding.

    It ended in me yelling, and him crying.

    And then, this wise boy STOPPED. He would not read. He would not try. He was done.

    I realized then that I wanted him to read so badly because I wanted him to have the joy I have always had in books.

    I realized that I was sucking the joy out of the experience. It wasn’t a grand adventure, to him; it was torment and a bothersome chore.

    So I stopped, too – and from that point forward, our learning style became more and more relaxed, with less and less teaching.

    And one day, a few months later, I found him on the couch, reading a Magic Tree House book as though he had been doing it his entire life.

    After that, it was an avalanche of reading; Harry Potter, Narnia, children’s classics like Heidi, Oliver Twist, The Secret Garden, more Tree House books, The Boxcar Children, The Red Badge of Courage, manga, choose-your-own adventures, Goosebumps, and a range of non=fiction, mostly about science and inventing and magic.

    Until I slowly realized that these children did not need teaching – what they needed, maybe what all children need, was the space and time and support to learn what fascinated and compelled them.

    We have never given Annalise a formal lesson in her life.

    Jeremiah, at 10, loves physics, Pokemon, math, computer and gaming technology, inventing, television, chopping firewood, swimming, camping, cooking, history presented as stories, learning about other cultures and philosophies, ethics, laws (especially copyright, patent, and homeschool laws), anime, and asking Bigger Questions. He worked odd jobs and saved his allowance for five months, so that he could buy his own Nintendo 3DS on his tenth birthday.

    A common quote from him is, “Mom, I was doing a little research, and I found out……” He uses the Internet as his own research ground. He sent me links to the gifts he wanted for Christmas, after researching the items on his list and finding good online deals. He learned how to dry a rain-soaked cell phone online. He learns more about playing games, and science, and history, and math, and literature, through his access to the Internet. He is also learning Japanese, so he can better understand the culture and trade Pokemon with online Japanese friends.

    Annalise, at 7.5, loves animals, especially wild ones. She will watch any nature documentary or horse care video, even those meant for adults or mostly filmed in Swedish. She knows a great deal about habitats and how animals have evolved adaptations to inhabit them. She loves anatomy and DNA and natural disasters. She loves to sing, and dance, and draw. She is naturally agile and has a strong sense of her physical self, and a stronger sense of balance. She loves biking, ice skating, rollerblading, swimming, jumping, horseback riding in the Parelli tradition, and generally challenging her body. She loves fashion and digging in the dirt and catching insects to study. She builds elaborate structures and weaves complex stories around baby dolls, stuffed animals, or Littlest Pet Shop characters, narrating the story as she creates it,

    She is becoming, without any lessons at all, quite a good reader, and she enjoys writing. A common quote, from her, is, “Wait, Let ME do the math!” She’s learning to read and use the calendar, to tell time, and to count money.

    For those wondering how we could alter the current system, I say that I agree with John Holt, and you. Forced attendance is imprisonment. Curriculum delivered en mass, on the basis of age alone, does not make sense. Teaching does not necessarily lead to learning.

    Humans have within them all they need to acquire the skills they truly need to take their place in an adult world that is based more upon intrinsic value than materialism. What children (not students, but children) most need is the safety to explore from within themselves outward, and support to help them when they need it and warn them away from dangers they don’t yet see. They need information, honesty, and the trust of the adults around them.

    I believe that the materialism and greed so prevalent today exists because, inside, so many people are wounded and hollow. They are trying to hide from their pain, because facing it is too terrifying to contemplate. Nothing in school has “taught” them to look deeply inward. Inside, they are empty and yearning, and society seems to focus on external paths to “fulfillment” – which ends up not being very fulfilling, and so another external answer is sought.

    Children are born with a strong sense of self. If that is nurtured throughout life, rather than being subdued to fit into a system, they will always have what is within them, and they will not forget to turn there, first, to answer their deep inner needs.

    I will close by saying thank you for your post, and the opportunity to respond to it. Putting these things into words helps me to clarify my own path and purpose within my family. And by saying that I have learned at least as much from each of my children as they ever have from me. There seems, to me, to be something very arrogant in insisting that adults are meant to teach and children to absorb what is taught. So much of the child’s personhood is ignored, in that prevalent paradigm.

    You may not be able to leave school, Jabreel, but your mind is your own. Keep asking questions, and keep seeking answers until you are satisfied. Feed yourself a steady mental diet of what inspires you. It’s possible to play the school game without investing yourself in what, really, is no real preparation for life.

    I wish you the best, and the path to the answers you seek.

    Shan Jeniah (www.memismommy.blogspot,com “tThe Unfettered lLfe”)

    Posted by Shan Jeniah Burton | January 7, 2012, 5:51 pm


  1. Pingback: You Have the “Right” to Remain Stupid: What America & Wall St. Really Wants for Children « Things I grab, motley collection - January 8, 2012

  2. Pingback: Enabling or Empowering – Which is Which? | Kens Cushion - January 31, 2012

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