"Being a teacher is like being a prison guard"

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Garco
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Jun 7 2010 14:19
"Being a teacher is like being a prison guard"

Admin: this discussion began under this article but was moved to the theory forum.

What is all this about “Education Workers”?

Teachers are members of the middle class; they are social managers (they manage children, they consciously and actively transmit bourgeois ideology); their ‘industrial struggles’ are the same as any other professional body – their ‘industrial struggles’ do not attack the economy, they only serve to attempt to protect their own specialised, professional position within it.

There is nothing wrong with being a teacher, good luck to anyone who tries it (be enthusiastic and kind and self-aware!), but I think it is important for ‘revolutionaries’ to understand as best they can what the ‘education system’ is, and what the role of teachers, as teachers, when they are at work, also is. As I see it the only people who could justifiably set up a group with such a name as “Education Workers”, would be those who undertake the non-supervisory roles within the education industry: the administrative staff, the cleaners, the teaching assistants, the maintenance workers. These people are generally paid far less than a first year teacher, and this in itself helps expose the difference between these workers and teachers.

Teachers may be nice people, just as one can find nice people in any walk of life. Some teachers may even have entered the (poorly paid, it is true) profession for the right reasons. Teaching is a glorified form of child care until the last couple of years of schooling. Being a teacher is like being a prison guard, some teachers may have entered teaching in order to provide a more humane form of prison guarding - and for this noble act they should be commended. (This does not mean that the whole process of ‘learning’ is not highly interesting and engaging). For the others, who entered teaching because they wanted to help make the world a better place beyond merely changing the experiences of the few students who might pass through their stewardship, then they need to wise up. It is undoubtedly rewarding to be part of a process that helps a child raise their academic outcomes so that their self-esteem is boosted and they will be able to find higher paid or ‘more interesting’ work when they leave school, but it also has to be recognised that these good deeds towards individuals also strengthen the economy and system we so despise. To put it another way, help turn one student into a journalist and you have strengthened the edifice of capitalism. For those who took the job up for want of anything better to do, well, they should have got a job where they didn’t have so many opportunities to mess with peoples’ heads.

Education is constantly in crisis. It has to be. It is one of the constant ‘foreign wars’ of all governments and governments in waiting; just as it is also one of the constant topics of those of the old school (pun intended) types who bemoan the demise of ‘traditional’ education methods (of course, the reality is that they know nothing of what those old methods and ideologies were).

Education is constantly in crisis. How could we expect anything else? Mass education has only been in existence on for 150 years or so – this is a brand new experiment in the history of human kind. Do you really think that mass ‘education’ has any real precedent? This stuff is brand new. It is seat of the pants experimentation! And the tragedy is that no one realises this, least of all the teachers… You really have got to laugh. There is no sense of history….

If the writer of the article above, and those who agree with it, think that they are defending something worthwhile (Education) then I think they are the well-meaning, smooth talking, ‘reasonable’ and beguiling… future apparatchiks of terror.

By the way, in reference to the perhaps telling use of a particular word in the original article: school students of any age generally dislike being called ‘kids’, they find it demeaning (ask them).

Below is something written many years ago regarding Education, I think it is pertinent and useful here.

From “Proletarian Gob”, Number Three, Spring 1994:

PROLETARIAN GOB
Only when the working class is completely out of control will we be able to take real control of our lives.

Education

There is an assumption among many (usually ‘educated’) people that ‘education’ is some sort of neutral process that makes people more intelligent. There is an assumption among many other (usually ‘uneducated’) people that getting more ‘education’ gives you privileges and power within society, it doesn’t necessarily make you more ‘intelligent’, but it does give you the right connections and attitudes and often, in fact, the more educated a person is the more of a prat they are. Proletarian Gob agrees with the second assumption.

So, what do I mean by ‘education’? I mean going to school, college and university and passing exams. It is useless to talk about ‘education’ in this society as if it has anything to do with learning the truth about things. Education really just means learning in itself, learning any old crap.

There is only one thing worth learning; it is how to turn this common-sense truth into a world-wide reality: “I am not free until everyone is free.”

The world is piled high with knowledge, experts and expertise and yet the place is more of a shit-hole than it has ever been. Don’t believe people when they say that the world has progressed and things are constantly (even if in fits and starts) getting better. It is the other way around. We may have faster transport these days, but it’s only to get us to work quicker and to make more profits for the bosses in general. We may have doctors and drugs to keep us alive longer today, but for what? So that we can waste more of our lives in wage slavery, so that we can watch more television, so we can digest the tedium of our alienated and tedious lives.

Even the previous economic system was better than the present one. In feudal times (see Proley Gob 2, ‘Bourgeois Revolutions’) in general, ordinary peoples’ lives weren’t ruled by the clock, or the five or six day week; they knew where their food came from; how their homes were built; they knew each other. As communities they made their own tools, food, clothes. It is true that they were serfs (but remember that wage and dole slaves aren’t free either), that they paid taxes, that life was often hard; but they had a better understanding of their surroundings than we do, they certainly felt more ‘at home’ than we dispossessed proletarian can ever do. Our alienation from everything is becoming more and more complete; we have less and less control over the things around us. Whereas there was some ‘community’ left in feudal times, it is completely gone now, buried by a capitalism that turns us all into commodities (labourers and consumers). Reality is hiding somewhere in the television set, maybe if we watch more programmes we’ll catch a glimpse of it…

Progress, like education, is not a neutral, or ‘good’ thing, it is the perfection of our slavery and the increase of profits and power for our changing rulers.

But to get back to education. Mass education was brought to us by our rulers primarily to make us able to follow more complex instructions at work [sic!] and to create a few people who would be able to give orders at work. Getting an education system thrust on us was never a step forward for the working class, it was only a step forward for the administration of capitalism and the opportunity for us to receive more frequent and more subtle justifications for Authority and our condition as the governed. If we could read, we could read newspapers, as well as work in an office.

In Britain the idea of mass education was first put forward by liberal tyrants such as Lord Shaftesbury in the 1830’s. His arguments in favour of education were quite clear, education would not only be a means of making the workforce better suited to different jobs, it would also help the mass of people to understand their role in society and why they should support that society. If they weren’t educated as to the value of the British economy, the British Empire, Industry, God, the Monarchy, etc, then they might want to overthrow it all. Lord Shaftesbury’s ideas got a lot of stick from conservative types who thought that if the masses got ‘educated’ then they would understand even better their crap position in society and decide to do something about it. Better to keep them ‘stupid’. Eventually, however, Lord Shaftesbury’s ideas won over and he has been proved right. Education has not increased the numbers of revolutionaries or turned the masses any more subversive than they always have been. In fact, education has been a key factor in the science of social control. Education, like work itself, is anti-working class and counter-revolutionary. He proof of this is that education id compulsory. They wouldn’t force us to do anything that was really good for us, and they wouldn’t maintain a state institution that threatened their existence.

There have been no more proletarian revolts since the arrival of mass education than before. Revolts of the dispossessed (i.e., those who possess nothing but their labour power, i.e., proletarians) have been going on right down through history since the Middle Ages. I don’t think the number of revolts has increased or that the working class has increasingly decided communism is a good thing since ‘education’ has become established.

Education may throw up a few people (eg., politicians, greenies, technicians) who, as individuals, learn that aspects of society are bad and could do with changing. These people may even create a movement to ‘alter the system’. The best example at the moment might be the Green Movement [this was 1994], but you can also put in there the Labour movement which, through the big-wigs of the TUC and the Labour Party has also at times wanted to alter the system for their own ends. Education may turn out a few of these ambitious individuals but it certainly hasn’t turned out ‘masses’ who want to ‘alter the system’, it is the ambitious leaders who have created (or diverted) movements, not the schools or universities.

The only education that has led to ‘the masses’ changing things, or forcing change, or threatening to overthrow the whole system is class struggle. You can’t learn class struggle at university, but you may learn how to turn workers’ revolts and disgruntledness into votes or support for lefty ideas. An ‘education’ may well teach a few bright sparks how to shove the capitalist work ethic down our throats under a new guise, e.g., in a so-called ‘revolutionary ideology like Leninism or Trotskyism, but it won’t make the working class revolutionary.

When you look more closely at the school system the world over it soon becomes apparent that schools don’t even make an attempt to ‘educate’ people to the same level, in fact it’s the reverse. You can take a quick look at a year of pupils in a school and pretty well tell who’s going to end up as managers and who’s not. Your place in society in later life is largely prefigured at school. This is natural; schools are there to make compliant workers. Astonishingly, perhaps, many teachers don’t seem to realise this fact and spend their careers trying to do their best for the people who enter their classrooms, they might even encourage a few ‘lazy no-hopers’ to further their education, go off to college/university and end up as liberal-minded managers. But this is not bucking the system. It is serving it. (Still, I’d rather have this sort of teacher supervising my kids during school time than the disinterested, callous bastard type).

Therefore, debates about types of classroom methods, such as ‘child-centred learning’ versus ‘testing’ don’t really have much meaning unless you want to talk about the kind of discipline you want your child to be kept under while at school – i.e., soft or hard. Parents who worry a lot about the type of schooling their kids are getting usually want their kids to ‘do well’ and get a good job/career after school, I.e.’ become managers, academics, designers, journalists, etc.

Parents who don’t really give a toss about how their kids do at school (but would probably be pleased if they happened to ‘do well’) have a much more potentially subversive attitude to society in general – a society which they perceive (however dimly at times) as apart from them and in control of them. These people understand the education system better than most of those who would consider themselves ‘educated’.

Schools exist to turn children into compliant wage slaves. Being a school pupil was the longest job I ever had.

Proletarian Gob, Spring 1994.

(PS. I tried to include a couple of excellent illustrations from Paul Petard which were drawn for the above article, but I couldn't get them to appear here)

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Tarwater
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Jun 7 2010 14:23

Public education exposed me to the velvet glove early on, and gifted, passionate teachers gave me the encouragement to critique the lessons they were paid to teach. Though the article you posted may be right in most cases, to say that teaching is always a tool of capitalist training (or whatever you want to term it) is trite, boring, and wrong.

I honestly think you are capable of a more nuanced critique than this, I like a lot of the dupont "stuff".

gypsy
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Jun 7 2010 14:26
Quote:
As I see it the only people who could justifiably set up a group with such a name as “Education Workers”, would be those who undertake the non-supervisory roles within the education industry: the administrative staff, the cleaners, the teaching assistants, the maintenance workers. These people are generally paid far less than a first year teacher, and this in itself helps expose the difference between these workers and teachers.

This part is bollocks. You are talking shite in alot of the other stuff you wrote aswell.

Garco
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Jun 7 2010 14:26

Dear Tarwater,

Yes, teachers can be great people, didn't I say as much? Just as doctors can be, and scientists, and journalists, foremen, and social workers, priests and members of the armed forces... - but all these professions, or jobs, are heavily laden with the reality that to do the job you have to work within certain parameters and you have to consciously and actively supervise people for the benefit of capitalism for a significant amount of time. Teaching is only "always a tool of capitalist training (or whatever you want to term it)" as you say, as much as any other profession is always a tool of bourgeois ideology or economic imperatives.

Why is what I say, “trite, boring and wrong”? You don’t back up these fantastic epithets. I now really want to get myself a tee-shirt made with the slogan, ‘Trite, Boring - and Wrong!” – I love it! My long term love interest/partner/wife will really like it!

I am afraid that nuance is probably beyond me. What is it you really like about “ the dupont ‘stuff’ ”? The pictures?

I realise that I have now replied flippantly, I have had a dig at you (prompted by your unbacked-up assertions), but really I am only joking, and I am sure that you are mainly a good person… However, now that I have written this you will have to fire off a quick reply full of swearing, or, maybe you will express sorrow for me (“I thought the dupontists were kind of OK but now I realise they are a sad waste of space, I hope you can be happy in your tragic life…”). Or you will be silent, in an effort to show that I mean less than nothing to you… This is the way things work around here. An innovative way to reply would be to go away for a while and come back with a reasoned and logical response, backing up your intuitive thoughts. (Now you will think I am being patronising… but really I am being serious and, hopefully, helpful - not just for you but also for anyone else reading this.)

Dear allybaba,

You write:
“This part is bollocks. You are talking shite in alot of the other stuff you wrote aswell.”

Thanks for this. I love a good, reasoned discourse, in which I am forced to think carefully…. Maybe you are right… but how would I, or anyone, know?

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Jun 7 2010 14:27

I like all the teachers I had. They inspired me to learn, and they showed an interest in my personal life, not just in my grades. I never felt like they were brainwashing me with capitalist ideology. At all times I was taught to think critically, and students were often encouraged to take up opposing views.

Garco
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Jun 7 2010 14:27

This is not a question about whether teachers are nice people or not. I have known, and know, nice ones and nasty ones. Do you think I am saying that teachers consciously brainwash people with ideologies that support the continuance of capitalism? No, most people, especially teachers, are unaware of what they do, or what they contribute to.

It is about whether Education is an industry we should support the continuance of or not...

It seems that several people here support the concept of Education as delivered by the current economy. I find this quite incredible. I also think that it is naive to think, following the logic, that maybe there will one day be so many teachers who support the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist regime that all students who pass through their classrooms will also take up revolutionary positions. If this is the case then we should all become teachers!

The educational concept underlying the promotion of critical thought is the essence of the democratic ideology. The ideology of democracy, as a philosophical construct, intimately connected with the economy, relies on the competition between opposing ideas - but, crucially, within certain pre-defined parameters. If school really does teach ‘thinking skills’ then there is nothing for us to do but wait for the schools to deliver the communist revolution…

Every time an anarchist defends the idea of democracy (or Education) an angel somewhere falls down dead…

The world is not about ideas… see my other posts, in different forums.

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Jun 7 2010 14:29

Do you think I am saying that teachers consciously brainwash people with ideologies that support the continuance of capitalism?

Well, when you say:

"they [teachers] manage children, they consciously and actively transmit bourgeois ideology"

Then yes, yes I do.

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Lavender
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Jun 7 2010 14:29

Anyway, your points are unoriginal, not to mention anti-working class. No one here supports the current education system. But to extrapolate that to not supporting the struggles of teachers because they "consciously and actively transmit bourgeoisie ideology" is bullshit. As you state "most people, especially teachers, are unaware of what they do, or what they contribute to", which would include most workers, even if their job isn't to 'transmit bourgeoisie ideology" (which frankly, the education system isn't just about). All workers are up to their neck in the shit of capitalism and are involved in its reproduction, materially and ideologically and are as 'as any other profession a tool of bourgeois ideology or economic imperatives.' The point isn't to condemn them as 'middle-class' but to argue for a radical rupture of present society. This would undoubtedly change the role of teachers and the nature of education or learning. But it would also change all other industries and work itself. The sort of people who harp on about how the teachers are middle-class are the ones who massacre them in the name of their national liberation, from Thailand to Turkey.

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Jun 7 2010 14:30

"Every time an anarchist defends the idea of democracy (or Education) an angel somewhere falls down dead…"

Well, I'm not an anarchist and as for democracy one of my favorite things I read was Bordiga's critique of it and its usage. But anyway, I don't think this is relevant at all to this thread, and you're merely using it as an excuse for intellectual masturbation, which is fine and all but doesn't interest me so much.

Garco
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Jun 7 2010 14:32

Dear Lavender,

Good point! (Post 6) (This is what happens when one does 'quick' replies - usually I work on a reply offline and over time! I have to do this because I such a slow-witted dimwit most of the time...)

My experience of teachers tells me that they have very little idea of the history of Education, and why our economy invests so much time, money and effort into it.

They do not, in my opinion, realise that that they are transmitting particular ideologies most of the time - however, just by doing the job they have to consciously work out ways to implement the curriculum and make sure that students stay in the classroom and don't wander off in boredom or anger... also - in the case of an 'aware' teacher then they must (but obviously they don't in most cases) realise that just by doing the job, just by implementing a certain curriculum, just by helping them achieve well at school... they are consciously and actively transmitting bourgeois ideology.

But still, the real question, as raised by the original Library article, is whether Education is an industry we should support the continuance of or not...

I do not support the continuance of the mining industry, the farming industry, the advertsing industry, the social work industry, the solar power industry, the unemployment industry, etc , etc. Should I be supporting the Education industry?

Cheers,
Garcon

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Jun 7 2010 14:33

Dear Mr Garcon.

Quote:
But still, the real question, as raised by the original Library article, is whether Education is an industry we should support the continuance of or not...

I do not support the continuance of the mining industry, the farming industry, the advertsing industry, the social work industry, the solar power industry, the unemployment industry, etc , etc. Should I be supporting the Education industry?

It depends on what you define as 'industry.' If you use it as synonymous as a business, i.e. something which is used for the purpose of profit-making, then no, I wouldn't support it, but that hardly goes without saying since I'm a communist. But one can be opposed to the mining industry, or the advertising industry, yet still supportive of the workers in it. Supporting the latter doesn't equate to supporting the former, or supporting any industries (in the broader sense) subordination to capital.

Love,

Marsella.

gypsy
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Jun 7 2010 14:36
Garcon wrote:
As I see it the only people who could justifiably set up a group with such a name as “Education Workers”, would be those who undertake the non-supervisory roles within the education industry: the administrative staff, the cleaners, the teaching assistants, the maintenance workers. These people are generally paid far less than a first year teacher, and this in itself helps expose the difference between these workers and teachers.

I will write a proper reply to you then. Basically I did not like the way you said teachers should not support and join their fellow workers in times of struggle. If teachers do not join lets say a strike they would completely undermine their fellow workers. I remember about ten years ago at my old school the janitors went on strike, so did some of the pupils including me. But the teachers and management did not. If they did that it would have been great and the janitors may have got their demands met. Obviously education is dictated to us by the middle and upper class professionals and politicians who set the curriculum. But you should not mistake teachers with them.

Garco
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Jun 7 2010 14:37

Lavender says:

"No one here supports the current education system."

Did you not read the original article? Just read the start of it. Do you know why we have an education system in the present society?

When you say, "Well, I am not an anarchist..." - this is confusing, since you defend this site with such phrases as, "No one here..."

I had been thinking that maybe my original post should have been the start of a new discussion forum, not a continuance of this Library topic... you, Lavender, have suggested this too, what do you think?

Garco
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Jun 7 2010 14:38

Dear allybaba,

I look forward to your proper reply - but i worry that you have already set off on the wrong foot. For example, you said: "Basically I did not like the way you said teachers should not support and join their fellow workers in times of struggle" - but I just didn't say anything of the kind.

Cheers,
Garco

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Jun 7 2010 14:39

Dear Mr Garco.

I was very naughty and I only browsed through the article, because it is written by a group that I don't care much for politically embarrassed

That said, I hardly think that attacking elements of the education system (e.g. levels, monitoring of teachers and students performance, rigid-hierarchy, cut-backs etc) amounts to supporting the education system per se. When miners strike against wage-cuts or unsafe working conditions are they mounting a great theoretical defense of the mining system? confused

Or are they defending themselves on a class-basis and attempting to preserve their interests? No, they aren't "attacking the economy" like you stated above, but really the only action which truly attacks the economy is an attack on wage-labor itself. And if we are to hold to that high-standard, then the only struggles we would support would be revolutionary ones.

Personally, I think that workers should defend their interests and fight to improve their conditions because its essential for when they fight against wage-labor itself.

Quote:
When you say, "Well, I am not an anarchist..." - this is confusing, since you defend this site with such phrases as, "No one here..."

I don't think that amounts to defending the site, only that I think that most people here are opposed to the current system of education which often revolves around creating a compliant workforce.

If any anarchist here disagrees with that pov, then speak up.

Quote:
I had been thinking that maybe my original post should have been the start of a new discussion forum, not a continuance of this Library topic... you, Lavender, have suggested this too, what do you think?

Well, I though that the discussion on democracy was off-topic, but I don't think it deserves a new thread. If you want to start a thread on it its your prerogative.

Lots of love,

Marsella

gypsy
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Jun 7 2010 14:40
Quote:
Dear allybaba,

I look forward to your proper reply - but i worry that you have already set off on the wrong foot. For example, you said: "Basically I did not like the way you said teachers should not support and join their fellow workers in times of struggle" - but I just didn't say anything of the kind.

Cheers,
Garco

i did write a proper reply earlier. Your acting abit smug.

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jef costello
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Jun 7 2010 16:32
Garco wrote:
But still, the real question, as raised by the original Library article, is whether Education is an industry we should support the continuance of or not...

I do not support the continuance of the mining industry, the farming industry, the advertsing industry, the social work industry, the solar power industry, the unemployment industry, etc , etc. Should I be supporting the Education industry?

The farming industry is necessary under capitalism because the bourgeoisie needs to feed itself and supply workers with enough food to survive and reproduce their labour power. Because workers generally continue eating and feeding themselves as long as it is possible there is no need to intervene. Most things that are 'forced upon us' are imposed by the government because they are necessary to reproduce labour but individual capitalists will not pay for them. So in order to produce educated workers the government intervenes, in order to prevent social unrest the government pays unemployment benefits and so on. Education is something that the upper classes have recognised is necessary for their own children for a very long time and altough an education system under capitalism is obviously going to have as it's aim the maintaining of that system it doesn't mean that education is bad or that teachers are not workers. I, like others here, have worked in a library and I made people carry ID, register, pay fines etc. This was training for control but it didn't make me less of a workers. There is always an element of control in prety much any job. The NHS is provided to keep workers healthy, this doesn't mean that doctors and nurses are not workers. The fact that professionals are often middle class does not necessarily mean that their functions are only necessary in a bourgeois society.

Boris Badenov
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Jun 7 2010 16:39
Garco wrote:
The proof of this is that education id compulsory. They wouldn’t force us to do anything that was really good for us

Judging by this statement, I assume you were never "bourgeoisified" with such things as basic logic.
The state also makes us not drink and drive, not kill, beat or sexually abuse people, which can only possibly mean that these things are pro-working class and revolutionary, otherwise "they wouldn't force us to do it."
There is an argument to be made for how the education system perpetuates, as an institution, reactionary values, but it is not made by smearing all teachers as "middle class," denying their right to organize as workers and take action, and coming up with absolutely ridiculous "proofs" like the above.

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Choccy
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Jun 7 2010 18:23

It's difficult to know just where to start with how wrong much of this article is. That said there is much common ground - most anarchists I know who are teachers/lecturers share many of the same critiques of the education industry as it exists - ie co-opted in the interests of capitalism.
But there is nothing inherently repressive about education, or about teaching, however as with many sphere of human activity it can be bastardised in the service of bosses and the state.

Again, much of this has been hashed out before in previous threads which I'll link to when I get a chance and will try to post a more detailed response.

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Entdinglichung
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Jun 8 2010 11:04

reminds me a bit of the SPK's rants about medical doctors

Yorkie Bar
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Jun 8 2010 12:19

I find education so repressive that I actually chose to do 3 years more of it, out of my own pocket no less!

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oisleep
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Jun 8 2010 12:24

true revolutionaries leave school at 16 and become auto-didacts cool

alternatively some anarchists have been known to attend private school to avoid the horrors and conditioning visited upon them by the evil state apparatus

fort-da game
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Jun 8 2010 13:45
oisleep wrote:
true revolutionaries leave school at 16 and become auto-didacts cool

alternatively some anarchists have been known to attend private school to avoid the horrors and conditioning visited upon them by the evil state apparatus

You are saying that those who work for private companies are somehow responsible for the work of that company and that they would be more 'communist' if they worked for the state (or a workers' co-op)? Or what is it that you are saying? Something a bit snide and ugly I should think.

People are forced by capital to make the best living they can; often, if they have a bit of intelligence (and a bit is overstating it for many teachers) they take jobs as social managers but that doesn't mean they should reduce themselves to and identify with that role. Nor should it blind them to the function of the work they are undertaking (in education it is the sorting from the earliest age of individuals according to academic ability in order to fit them as machine parts within the productive system). Just because they cannot halt the process into which they are integrated it does not follow that they should suspend their critique of it.

If a pro-revolutionary works as a teacher they should oppose that role as much as if they worked in a factory – if there are pro-communists working as teachers and they are not calling for the abolition of such education then they do not have even the basis of a critique of the capitalist social relation.

The fact that teachers are proletarianised managers is significant to the degree that their class interest is at the least not identical with that of the proletariat and more accurately, is divergent from it. If pro-communists don't have a critique of the managerial roles of capitalism such as teaching (even when they are teachers) then there is something seriously wrong. The absorbing of previously working class individuals into the education system over the last few decades has muddied the waters somewhat at the level of class 'identity' but it has not altered at all the class function of social management.

The only controversy here is how many of us within the pro-revolutionary milieu are actually employed as social managers and, no surprise, how we use our work-skills to both manage the milieu and theoretically force through strategies which conflate the interest of managers with workers. I can only assume this strategy is pursued because it is too painful to acknowledge that as social managers (and as pro-revolutionaries) we are not members of that class which we think must overthrow capitalism. Certainly in the '60's and '70's there were social managers who were able to undertake a critique of their privileged role... the situation has certainly declined since then.

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oisleep
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Jun 8 2010 14:13
fort-da game wrote:
oisleep wrote:
true revolutionaries leave school at 16 and become auto-didacts cool

alternatively some anarchists have been known to attend private school to avoid the horrors and conditioning visited upon them by the evil state apparatus

You are saying that those who work for private companies are somehow responsible for the work of that company and that they would be more 'communist' if they worked for the state (or a workers' co-op)? Or what is it that you are saying? Something a bit snide and ugly I should think.

People are forced by capital to make the best living they can; often, if they have a bit of intelligence (and a bit is overstating it for many teachers) they take jobs as social managers but that doesn't mean they should reduce themselves to and identify with that role. Nor should it blind them to the function of the work they are undertaking (in education it is the sorting from the earliest age of individuals according to academic ability in order to fit them as machine parts within the productive system). Just because they cannot halt the process into which they are integrated it does not follow that they should suspend their critique of it.

If a pro-revolutionary works as a teacher they should oppose that role as much as if they worked in a factory – if there are pro-communists working as teachers and they are not calling for the abolition of such education then they do not have even the basis of a critique of the capitalist social relation.

The fact that teachers are proletarianised managers is significant to the degree that their class interest is at the least not identical with that of the proletariat and more accurately, is divergent from it. If pro-communists don't have a critique of the managerial roles of capitalism such as teaching (even when they are teachers) then there is something seriously wrong. The absorbing of previously working class individuals into the education system over the last few decades has muddied the waters somewhat at the level of class 'identity' but it has not altered at all the class function of social management.

The only controversy here is how many of us within the pro-revolutionary milieu are actually employed as social managers and, no surprise, how we use our work-skills to both manage the milieu and theoretically force through strategies which conflate the interest of managers with workers. I can only assume this strategy is pursued because it is too painful to acknowledge that as social managers (and as pro-revolutionaries) we are not members of that class which we think must overthrow capitalism. Certainly in the '60's and '70's there were social managers who were able to undertake a critique of their privileged role... the situation has certainly declined since then.

you're not from a nation that doesn't get irony by any chance?

Armed Sheep
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Jun 8 2010 16:13

I have to mostly agree with the Duponts here. A critique of an institution should not be equated with the individuals ensconced within it. Why take it personally? How many do not perform institutionally appropriate roles at the work-place? An institution represents a synergistic effect so cannot be meaningfully altered by individuals within it. Nor are they individually to blame for the behaviour of the gestalt, whatever their motivations. Think of the logic behind historical materialism or even contextual influence. This is how tradition works. This is what is meant by the shackles of custom.

The enemy is the institution, not the institutionalised. Its walls can only be taken down from the outside. Striking or demonstrating for better conditions only reinforces the foundation. This is not an anti-worker sentiment.

Teachers as a role, as a job description, a performance, are agents of the state. Institutional Education is a State Ideological Apparatus.

For example, fifteen years ago I was a middle/high school counselor. I was universally blacklisted after only one year for advocating for the students. In the U.S., that is not part of the job description, despite what the colloquial wisdom thinks. In administrative circles, this is called "trouble-making" or "not a team player". There was in fact a demonstration by students and parents in attempt to retain me, to no avail. Many took their 'kids' out of school in protest. That is the only good which came out of the situation.

We all should have split in the first place. The irony is that in advocating for the students, I was doing the institutional apparatus a service -- maintaining an even flow, damage control. That this was not my motivation is completely beside the point. The other irony is that I learned more in two years outside the institution than in my entire career of educational institutionalisation.

A conscientious and friendly prison guard only makes doing time less troublesome for the warden. Happy workers are more efficient workers.

It is not a logical conclusion that we should stop being kindly or considerate. That is the human being expressing itself from amidst the machinery. Just as is a brick thrown through the plate glass on the school-house door. When everything we do must be seen as a tactic or strategy, we become the machine. Life is meaningless without at least an occasional spontaneous expression or swerve. Which is precisely the function of the grand synergy, capitalist civilisation -- to either destroy meaning or inflict it.

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Choccy
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Jun 8 2010 17:15

There is a qualitative difference between a teacher and a prison guard.
There is no inherent repressive aspect of being a teacher, just like there's nothing inherently oppressive about being a checkout assistant (despite the fact that they can deny goods to people) or a bus driver (despite the fact that they can deny access to transport) and it's depressing that peopel on this board cannot see that.

Teaching is not synonymous with the state. Teaching can encompass a whole plethora of activities and should not be conflated with a specific form of wage-labour under capitalism - my muay thai teacher was not an 'agent of the state', my geology teacher on daycourses was not an 'agent of the state'.
Of course the role of 'teacher' in a state school has many aspects of it that present tensions to anyon who identifies with revolutionary politics - I am very open about them and have written about my own experiences here on many occasions.
However, the activity of teacher would remain were we to acheive a post-revolutionary society, indeed education is one of the most important activities in my view.
'teaching' however would be completely re-conceptualised.

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Farce
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Jun 8 2010 17:40
oisleep wrote:
true revolutionaries leave school at 16 and become auto-didacts cool

I thought they became parish councillors?

Armed Sheep
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Jun 8 2010 18:12
Choccy wrote:
There is a qualitative difference between a teacher and a prison guard

I remember in my youth, the 50's and 60's, I didn't mind being called a kid. That was slang and the language of ambiguity and double entendre we enjoyed. What we resented was being called a "child". From the typical adult perspective, at least back then in the states, "children" were bad. Incomplete. Unruly. In need of control. Prone to mischief and mayhem. A kid, on the other hand, is always and ever a baby goat, and not offensive in the least. That happens when they grow up and start to stink and eat your clothes right off the clothes line and knock harmless trolls off the bridge.

Quote:
There is a figurative similarity between a teacher and a prison guard.

There are regions in the universe outside of Euclidian space. It is where one hypothesizes patterns: pattern-recognition. There is a qualitative difference between recognition (familiarity) and recall (iteration), yet we call both "memory". Sometimes the metaphor is more appropriate in communication than the "precise" name. Pronouns reflect this feature. The successfully educated lose any sense of metaphoric extension and call the result "reality". But it is only the reality of a machine.

Apparently, language instructors no longer teach metaphor, synechdote, simile, and the like. Sad.

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oisleep
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Jun 8 2010 18:11
Farce wrote:
oisleep wrote:
true revolutionaries leave school at 16 and become auto-didacts cool

I thought they became parish councillors?

I was referring to myself, but you have a point

fort-da game
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Jun 8 2010 18:47
oisleep wrote:
fort-da game wrote:
oisleep wrote:
true revolutionaries leave school at 16 and become auto-didacts cool

alternatively some anarchists have been known to attend private school to avoid the horrors and conditioning visited upon them by the evil state apparatus

my usual blah blah

you're not from a nation that doesn't get irony by any chance?

sorry.

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cantdocartwheels
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Jun 8 2010 19:01
Quote:
Teachers are members of the middle class; they are social managers (they manage children, they consciously and actively transmit bourgeois ideology);

Of course they ''manage'' children, children need to be taught right and wrong and they need structure to learn. Unless you think 6 year olds should run their own classrooms or some crazy nonsense like that.

Quote:
their ‘industrial struggles’ are the same as any other professional body – their ‘industrial struggles’ do not attack the economy, they only serve to attempt to protect their own specialised, professional position within it.

This is just nonsense, you can sit there and divide up the global working class according to how much 'privilige' they have all day, its pretty pointless. More importantly in case you'd missed it the idea that the working class can be bought off, and that it can be divided up into priviliged sections is a pretty central plank of that ''bourgeois ideology''.you were harking on about.