Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I'm Awake

Literally and figuratively, I'm awake.

I'm literally awake at an unusually early hour because some dude with a pile of rocks in his mouth called at 4:30 this morning, looking for Owen. Our daughter is on a sleep over, so I was wide awake and in perfect enunciation form when I picked up the phone and responded, "You have misdialed."

"Can I speak to Owen." It's 4:30 in the morning, you're making unapologetic phone calls, AND you're not listening?

"You have misdialed." Click. Damn if the rock-mouth didn't call back again 10 seconds later.

"Dude!! It's 4:30 in the morning." (There's something about these gravel-mouthed boys that brings out the surfer girl in me.)

I'm guessing it was my use of a big word like misdialed that threw him off?

I have read conspiracy theorist explanations about the purpose of our public education system. The story, of course, is that it is meant to produce mindlessly consuming docile workers, which sounds plausible, yet is so disturbing to think about that it was always easier to dismiss it as mostly baseless paranoid ranting. Yes, that does seem to be the effect of public education, but I didn't care to believe that the outcome was anyone's conscious intent. I was awoken in a more figurative sense last night while reading John Taylor Gatto's 2003 Harper's Magazine piece Against School. Holy crap, "they" really did mean to create a system that produced unquestioning, conforming worker bees and to push those who refused to go along with the plan to the margins of society, where they hopefully won't get the chance to breed.

The US education system was not based on idealized notions about egalitarianism or democracy, but on the 19th century Prussian education system designed to prepare men for service in the military and bureaucracy. "The schools must fashion the person, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will," said 18th century German philosopher and father of the modern Nazism Johann Gottlieb Fichte.

How much does this matter now, that public education was based on such views? One could argue that while some founders of the modern school system did advocate the production of weak-willed lemmings, surely the all the of good people who have strove to improve public education have made some changes that negate the original intention? Looking around, at the mainstream media, the people I have worked with at various jobs, the people I meet in most social situations, I have to say that it seems the founders of US education did a fine job of creating a self-perpetuating system that more than adequately meets the needs of the ruling elite. There seems, in fact, to be cumulative effect and as the schooled school the succeeding generation, the adults they churn out seem more and more childlike, in the worst possible ways. It's almost an insult to children to compare them to petty, jealous, greedy grownups who obsess about celebrities while our unelected administration commits atrocities around the globe, who ponder which new green gadget to buy while our continued consumption, green or black, destroys our home, who go on diet after diet as our corn-fattened bodies betray us and our government does nothing to change the subsidy system that created the abundance of unhealthy food marketed by multinational corporations that have no responsibility to the public they should be serving.

I'm ranting and writing run-ons now, aren't I.

I blame the dude.

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