Note: This was originally posted at www.educatedtodeath.com
I am an educator, and a staunch supporter of public education and teachers. However, I find it increasingly difficult to support a system(s) that, from the moment it accepts a child, seeks to disable any critical spirit of humanity and replace it with an eternal need that can only be sated by some an institution. Our systems do not create participatory individuals. They create passive recipients of services needed. This does not seem to be a new phenomenon. Schools along with other social services have supplied the needs and thoughts of America’s underclass for quite sometime now. The middle class has equally been rendered just as passive, only having been allowed the illusion that they work for their own benefit, when in actuality, the middle class is no more free to participate than the poor. The poor are assistance and/or wage-slaves. The middle class are slaves to their debts and ideologies of security. Neither class works to benefit or affect themselves.
The poor have been rendered silent by being made dependent. They schools work to tame their spirits and limit their thoughts. They are allowed only basic literacy skills and never allowed to create. Testing has helped to narrow the curriculum and keep teachers and students focused on curriculum rather than problems. This strata is kept entertained and barely comfortable. If they step out of line they are beaten into submission, ushered into prisons, or other institutions. Individuals who escape the grasp of poverty are encouraged to continue the upward climb, abandoning the problems from which they were delivered. The version of success given them was that of the oppressor, and by eliminating critical consciousness there is no need to stop an reflect on one’s actions.
The rapidly diminishing middle class has been ushered through existence with a focus on maintenance of that which has been acquired. Their social structure has allowed for an illusion of social mobility through petty promotions and similar reinforcements. Some have been able to attain varying degrees of power through higher education and business, but the middle class, with a few exceptions has remained just as powerless as the poor, they’ve just had more choices of distraction. The institutions of the middle class very much allow the illusion of participation in democracy, but their choices are often small, and predetermined, for many, by sectarian or party affiliation. Churches and other similar social institutions among the middle class help dictate beliefs of the middle class.
Many people escape into the realms of academia which equally has its own fixed ideologies and requirements for advancement.
The ruling elite are incomprehensible beyond the fact that they have no choice but to fight to maintain their own power at any cost. For the ruling body to remain the ruling body it must either forcefully or insidiously keep the masses occupied with internal conflict and struggle, along with copious distraction. The people are divided by class, race, political affiliation, misinformation, prejudice, and so forth. I do not intend to say that these are completely manufactured, but the structures in which we survive allow for the development of such fears and divisions. People who fear one another can be easily controlled.
All that said, the problem is a lack of critical consciousness among the people. People do not participate, because their participation has been meaningless in the past. We learn as school children that we are incapable of really making any decision. We are nurtured to be consumers. Information is deposited in us by teachers. Teachers simply deliver the curriculum. We are passive within our communities. We wait for things to be changed. Some of us call our congressmen and speak with their aides, but we are only one vote. Everything is provided for us. If it isn’t, we don’t know what to do.
How is this solved?
We begin by eliminating the distance between ourselves and our neighbors. Nothing will change as long as we are a nation of others. As long as I am on the side of right and everyone else is wrong, I am nothing more than a puppet of my chosen or ‘chosen for me’ ideology. We cannot continue as a divided people. As we grow closer we must become more involved. We will become more open. As we become more open, our society must, as a direct result, become more open.
The answer to this debacle is not simple or solitary. Just as the problem itself can not be isolated, neither can the solution. However, entering into dialogue, or the dialectic sort, can only serve to bring us closer together as human beings. By becoming more interconnected we must become more involved. As be become more involved we are no longer just a mass of sheep, but a force. We will become an open or a more open society.
*I must acknowledge that my ideas could never be called entirely my own. They are a culmination of my experiences with my own world, and my readings of the experience of others. I write this to acknowledge my understanding of my development as a part of a collective consciousness that is not entirely my own. My experiences have served to force me to open certain books at certain times that have either shaped me, or more likely, shaped my understanding of my own experience.