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Philosophical Meanderings

The Language and Lies Two-Step of Education: The Lie Module

We the educated” are liars.

lie: (verb) (1) to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive (2) to create a false or misleading impression.

It’s not our fault” – we were led to believe from our earliest years that one must attend school to receive an education. We were led to believe “education” leads to success, eliminates poverty, equalizes the races and even more. We have no intent to deceive because education “worked” for us. We are only passing our belief on to our own and student-body children when we tell them education is:

  1. The path to achieving the American Dream;
  2. The path to social justice; and/or ,
  3. The civil rights issue of the 21st Century.

Is our belief, our faith, borne out by what clearly exists in “the real world” beyond the School-Wall Curtain?

The school/education project has been going on for decades. The proof is in the pudding. The project’s results are clear to see across US society.

If education were a magical compound that ‘raises up’ or ‘levels’ all, the privileged would have lost much of their privileged status and others would have gained more.

…of course, “education” may have done its real job…

For quite some time, education has been used as a soporific that soothes both the “haves” and the “have nots”. It has been used as proxy for direct and immediate methods that would eliminate poverty and equalize the enjoyment of substantive Civil Rights.

My rudeness is not simply due to my being an outsider to Edu-Land. My rudeness is not simply due to my being an attorney.

I have been traveling Michigan’s Indian Country and talking with the Natives. Survivors of the Indian Boarding School and Adoption experiments, the employed and under or unemployed, the highly educated and those who did not get through high school — all are concerned about their at risk children.

Standardized tests prove the Indian children do not “get it”. Statistics show they are disciplined far more often than other children. Since the numbers do not lie (as any Bell Curve aficionado might expect) there are some exceptions that fall at the right “good” side of the curve. From that sideline, the exceptions taunt us as to What-Could-Be-If-Only the failures would work hard and make the grade, if only the unruly would behave. Were they to do those things, they would prove the truth of meritocracy and American Exceptionalism.

A few children are chosen and placed upon the pedestal of Exceptional Indian Child. They are inducted to play the role of Examples of What-Could-Be-If-Only, and are co-opted to extol the virtues of the education system. They are taught to tell the tale of What-Could-Be-If-Only. In becoming an Exceptional Indian Child and afterward, they are used as shams-to-shame the failures.

I have talked with some of Exceptional Indian Children who became Exceptional Indian Adults. From time-to-time, they have gifted me bits of wisdom. I realize I have been attending a different type of school.

In that school, there are no bullet-point handouts for quick reference and memorization. There are no Power-Point presentations or slick videos There is no administration of “one best answer” tests. All the lessons are taught through story-telling.

The Anishinaabek lived on Turtle Island for many generations before the ships arrived. For those who lived by Meshi Gami, the big water namesake of the state I live in, the cold and dark winter was a time for telling stories.

One of their stories involved an evil that came down from the north during winters and famine times. Different versions are told, each with their own twists and turns, but central to each is The Wendigo.

The Wendigo is alternately described either as an evil spirit-creature or a human that transformed into or became evil. The spirit-creature would descend upon a family or community and eat them; the human iteration was a cannibal.

The story may only be a way to imprint abhorrence to cannibalism. The American West’s Donner Party (or was that a Dinner Party?) and stories about European cannibals all give rise to internal disquietude – what would you or I do if we were starving to death and beside us sat a potential meal?

If you think this far afield from education, stop thinking as an educated individual. If you are in the US of A, stop thinking like an American. If you are a teacher, stop thinking like a Teacher

Do you, like Walt Kelly (cartoonist and satirist of the Mid-20th Century) “Go Pogo”, that is to say, get down-and-dirty with the regular “folk”?


Have you been Pogo — have you met the enemy?

PogoMeetsTheEnemy Or do you Go Wendigo? If so, who or what do you feed upon? Who or what feeds upon you?



About Brent Snavely

A construct of upbringing and society, holder of a BS and JD and most recently an MA, I have practiced law more than 20 years. It has been said "The Truth shall set you free" -- I believe it will, but only if it is Your Personal Truth. Parrhesia may be humankind's only hope (see,


2 thoughts on “The Language and Lies Two-Step of Education: The Lie Module

  1. To your original question, its certainly not number one unless there would be tons of upward mobility. As for the rest, it shows just how much you can isolate, beat, and try to reprogram people and how horribly it fails…the fact that after all that there are still more that don’t “get it” shows that.

    Posted by Jabreel Chisley | January 23, 2013, 11:10 am
    • Jabreel,

      I think the isolation, beating and reprogramming aspects of the education system are things all over, under and average-achieving youths fully “get”. High-stakes tests largely based on English language skills assure that children who are not raised or surrounded by individuals with better-than-average linguistic skills to assist them in developing strong verbal abilities are placed behind the instant they step into a classroom.

      I wonder if you see what I see – that the tests based upon English language skills constitute a form of “slow violence” having disproportionate adverse impacts upon those whose family lines have historically been “behind”?

      Perhaps we, the educated, apply “the law of the jungle” and kill and eat the young – not our own young, but those of “others”…


      Posted by Brent Snavely | January 24, 2013, 4:57 pm

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