"Being a teacher is like being a prison guard"

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jef costello
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Jun 9 2010 12:16
Rob Ray wrote:
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their job is to make sure kids do their work, dont bunk off, etc. This is a managerial, controlling role

More like a parental one. Children do need adult supervision because they don't know owt, and in the absence of a parent the teacher ends up performing that role, making sure the kids in their care are safe and learning things.

exactly. Anyone who has ever been a part of a political group realises that people have to learn how to behave in meetings and many fail. In fact many groups fail to learn how to organise something as simple as a meeting where everyone who wants to speak does and no-one dominates the meeting.
When fort-da game talks about his son's behaviour when he did not know what was expected of him I think this can be related to teaching. When you give students a group task you need to teach them how to work as a group otherwise they will flounder. Hopefully the students will not respond to this by hitting others. One of the most important elements of schooling is learning how to behave as a group, rather than being the spoilt centre of a parent's universe or the victim of older siblings a child gets to create an identity within a group and has to learn the boundaries of such behaviour. A shocking number of children turn up at schools and their parents haven't taught them basic concepts such as the fact that if there is a centre of the universe they most certainly are not it. I have been shocked by how many children seem incapable of the most basic empathy. Obviously the system is flawed but as a responsible parent if you are going to put your child through the education system then you should prepare them for what it is like.
The piece by Cambridge anarchists to my mind makes some good points but then drags them off to a different conclusion that to my mind doesn't make sense. That 'herd' mentality of which they speak so disparagingly and that they think leads to totalitarianism seems to me to signal a disregard for ideas of communality and a group dynamic in favour of individualism.

B_Reasonable
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Jun 9 2010 12:25
Mike Harman wrote:
any situation where you have adult supervision of kids puts them in a position of 'parental' authority

Phew, that's OK then - an emancipated trans-historical set of social relations we can all rely on...

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse wrote:
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

sort it out frosty
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Jun 9 2010 12:32

But in the power dynamic between teachers & students I support the students. This conflict is the main experience of education I've experienced. And teachers interest in protecting there role leads them to have reactionary interests -- eg I heard in California the teachers union demanded it be mandatory to go to a state-sanctioned institution (eg family/communal child rearing would be illegal). Fuck em, theyre scum. Similarly opposing school leaving at an early age and generally supporting mandatory education.

And what is education for? Reproducing social roles. Its about domesticating children, breaking them into class society. Even the "enlightened" teachers are doing that. Creating a sustainable intergenerational counter-power movement means stop giving over our kids to the prisons of school. Challenging civilisation/class society means kids anti-school, anti-authority rebellion. Class warfare in the educational institutions is carried out by the kids imprisoned in these institutions. I remember hearing of kids getting school cancelled by phoning in bogus bomb threats, pulling fire alarms, etc -- industrial sabotage, if you like. And of course theres absenteeism.... Sabotaging the social factory means not just the infrastructure but also class societys means of reproducing itself -- the repressive family, education, religion etc.

fort-da game
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Jun 9 2010 12:45
petey wrote:
fort-da game wrote:
My son first punched a teacher at four.

expulsion, unless the teacher relents.

That's right, and when someone punches a policeman they should go to prison. But there are approximately twenty teenage boys in my road who have been expelled... what then? For many of them, it literally is prison. As it happens, the ‘newly qualified’ teacher involved in the above mentioned incident, was, we were assured, disciplined for terrifying a little boy on his first day at school. For your mindboggling defence of the incompetence of the bourgeois professions and for advocating the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility down to 4, I hope nobody here takes your opinion seriously again.

The point about bourgeois force in relation to bourgeois ideals is that the former very often does not appear as such and the agents of that violence do not appear as violent at all (the nice teacher/policeman/lawyer/doctor is only doing their job) and yet nobody can seriously believe that the teaching profession has not had a significant say in the design of the education system can they? The class violence expressed within education does not appear as violence but on the contrary represents itself as an attempt to realise a ‘universal’ ideal where the question of bourgeois domination over society disappears. The actual head cracking occurred decades, even centuries, earlier. I am quite amazed that Libcom does not have a critique of bourgeois society but contents itself talking about lollipop ladies.

Mike Harman wrote:
it'd be very stupid to call that managerial supervision.

I must be very stupid to diagree with you. But the supervision issue as you know is a side issue... this is the old style Libcom swarm attack where successive contibutors state ever more absurd examples based on a fabricated non-issue in order to bury a serious argument which they are losing. The question here is not adult authority over children but the systematic production of social, cultural and economic values against the interest of those who are educated to espouse them. It is well known (it is discussed in Foucault’s Discipline and Punish for example) that the architecture and organisation of education is based in the models of military drilling, the question is, is whether this structural or institutional violence can be positively transformed.

To that, you say assuredly yes. I say, I remain extremely skeptical... I am bored with these few rotten apples arguments and I find them incomprehensible in a communist setting. I think though the burden of proof is with you because the Libcom project is supposedly grounded in a critique of bourgeois domination – it is therefore up to you to demonstrate that you really do have a critique of the specifics of capitalist social reproduction and that you do not want to simply perpetuate bourgeois ideals in, for example, education.

You need to demonstrate how it is possible to ‘self-manage’ a school or a factory and avoid not simply reproducing the same class distinctions, the same mystifying ideologies. At the moment you are over-eager to sweep the problem under the carpet, I understand that this is a 'defence mechanism' but I wonder if many of you can really be happy with this evasiveness as a form of 'solidarity'? At the moment, the transfer of use arguments are very vague and unsubstantiated, you have spent far too long talking about shop assistants and tour guides. In my opinion, it simply cannot be that the infrastructures of capitalism can simply be transferred into communist ownership – the social forms of capitalism and communism are incompatibly opposed.

At the moment, you are effectively making arguments in favour of capitalist institutions, the question is why? You have not even made a critique of ‘capitalist’ education (even if you want to defend some ideal of education).

If you are reformists, if you want to defend services, if you are not arguing for the total transformation of human society, what is it exactly that you are doing calling yourselves anarchists and communists?

By the way, Catch, congratulations on having a daughter, she will do well, Miss will like her and if it weren’t for those horrid boys disrupting the lessons... My daughter has done very well at school, she is a ‘success’, even appearing (irony of ironies) on the front of an educational text book but even she knows that its an ideology and a lie, that her friends have been left behind – but you don’t seem to get how class distinction is perpetuated.

sort it out frosty
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Jun 9 2010 12:55
jef costello wrote:
That 'herd' mentality of which they speak so disparagingly and that they think leads to totalitarianism seems to me to signal a disregard for ideas of communality and a group dynamic in favour of individualism.

Not at all. Atomised people form a mass -- there is a direct relationship between atomisation and "massification" (can't think of a better word, so invented that one!). "The crowd" is a mass of atomised individuals, like "the electorate" or "consumers" or "the people", etc. Kind of as Proudhon once said -

Quote:
Solicit men's view in the mass, and they will return stupid, fickle and violent answers; solicit their views as members of definite groups with real solidarity and a distinctive character, and their answers will be responsible and wise. Expose them to the political 'language' of mass democracy, which represents 'the people' as unitary and undivided and minorities as traitors, and they will give birth to tyranny; expose them to the political language of federalism, in which the people figures as a diversified aggregate of real associations, and they will resist tyranny to the end.

So I see a ying-yang relationship between individualism & communality. Individual freedom is realised through collective empowerment but collective empowerment is impossible without individual freedom -- collective empowerment is the realisation of individual freedom. Most people fulfill their own individuality & freedom in strong & healthy communities.

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Rob Ray
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Jun 9 2010 13:05
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this is the old style Libcom swarm attack

Really? Because the way I'm reading this the only one who's been sneering has been you, everyone arguing on the other side is being pretty polite tbh.

And if lots of different people disagree with some of what you're saying that hardly amounts to being 'swarmed,' it just means your arguments aren't winning people over - so try harder, and perhaps try being a bit more polite.

mons
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Jun 9 2010 15:31
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But in the power dynamic between teachers & students I support the students. This conflict is the main experience of education I've experienced. And teachers interest in protecting there role leads them to have reactionary interests -- eg I heard in California the teachers union demanded it be mandatory to go to a state-sanctioned institution (eg family/communal child rearing would be illegal). Fuck em, theyre scum. Similarly opposing school leaving at an early age and generally supporting mandatory education.

Lots of the working class supports some reactionary things. This doesn't mean they're not working class. Lots of teachers, as it happens, are progressive, but some evidently are not. It's really beside the point.
What is the alternative, in this society, to mandatory education? I know despite not enjoying school I'm glad I went. I also couldn't not have gone; my mum had to work, and from a really young age one needs supervision. So that rules out home-schooling. 'Alternative' schools isolate people from others and society and that wouldn't be nice. Leaving school early means no qualifications - shittier job for less money.
I for one am thankful for the reforms that were in place (e.g. no beatings), and would have had a more fruitful time if other reforms existed (e.g. smaller class sizes). That doesn't mean that one can't also hold a critique of the whole of education, and recognise its contemporary role as reproducer of capitalism, in this society. That also doesn't mean that I'm any supporter of education as it is now.
So when you say:

Quote:
If you are reformists, if you want to defend services, if you are not arguing for the total transformation of human society, what is it exactly that you are doing calling yourselves anarchists and communists?

The answer is just common sense. To fight in the immediate for reforms which have some benefit in themselves, and show the class that collective action is empowering and can achieve stuff, while simultaneously making the wider arguments about the role of education under capitalism. There's nothing wrong with that, no contradiction.

Armed Sheep
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Jun 9 2010 15:55
Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse wrote:
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

This is amazing. It represents an entire theory of the reproduction of our culture in twelve short lines. Unfortunately, the last line is an expression of futility. The key to taking the futility out of the interpretation is located in the word, "have". Personally, I'd read "having" not so much as "birthing" but "owning, mastering, controlling". If children are not viewed as something which needs fixing and moulding, but rather "keeping safe, observing (rather than surveiling)" and allowed to "develop" which is a way of saying "self-actualise" (I'd say "self-other actualise"), the entire social order might just collapse and new habits will supersede it. Good or bad? We can't know that yet. Experimentalism is only trying out the novel. It can't hurt matters if the novel comes from the gut or heart. The second thing we've been taught is that intuition and instinct need to be suppressed; whole-body behaviours need mastered by the intellectual central processor, the grey matter. Like, control yourself, dude!

The response that children need prepared to fit into our world (for their own good) is defeatist from the get go. Obviously, if the first lesson a child learns is that empathy must be negated, whether coming from the home environment or any cultural institution set up for child (anti-)socialisation, it will be expected that adults will be socially "ill-behaved" (corrupted, retarded, & et). Then I ask, who are they to teach our children social skills? By empathy I mean the profound interest in the outside and one's connection to it and it to you. Children come into the world social creatures. Maybe they could teach us something? If you can't or won't learn from your kids, that's when you shouldn't have them in the first place because you're already an authority-driven fuck. (well, not you personally; how could I know that?).

To the above poem, I'd add this by another Phillip:

Phil Austin wrote:
Pretty much everything we know is wrong.

So much of the arguments here involve putting things into boxes they were not "designed" to fit, be they categorial boxes like "managerial class" or institutional boxes like "classrooms" and baby boxes like play pens designed so that we can maintain our separation. Our own houses are designed with no concept for children living in them. They are death traps. If parenting is such a hard task that we need continual break-time (nap-time is designed so parents can have some "peace and quiet" at predictable intervals), then I'd say there is something wrong with our techniques. If the first task for the teacher is establishing and maintaining order and control in the classroom, there may be something wrong with the situation, the classroom environment, in the first place. Have you noticed that children much prefer field trips or educational outings?

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 9 2010 16:10
madashell wrote:
Sorry, but this is simplistic as fuck. Were the teachers who took action against the SATS demanding more disciplinary powers? Were the teachers who joined the uprising in Oaxaca middle class managers?

Actually, in Oaxaca, the teachers were the most committed and militant sector in the movement. Their struggle continues - in fact, it has about 45 years of history behind it - with one of their constant demands - and a large factor behind their ongoing popularity - revolving around better funding and facilities for classrooms, as well as greater control over the content of their cirriculum. As a result, you'll see their pupils and even their pupils' parents marching and occupying alongside them.

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madashell
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Jun 9 2010 16:16
sort it out frosty wrote:
But in the power dynamic between teachers & students I support the students. This conflict is the main experience of education I've experienced. And teachers interest in protecting there role leads them to have reactionary interests -- eg I heard in California the teachers union demanded it be mandatory to go to a state-sanctioned institution (eg family/communal child rearing would be illegal). Fuck em, theyre scum. Similarly opposing school leaving at an early age and generally supporting mandatory education.

You could look at pretty much any industry and find examples of unions demanding deeply reactionary measures (though it's not exactly clear from your post what you're talking about there, do you have a link?), it doesn't follow from this that the workers in that industry are inherently reactionary or there's no point in them organising as workers.

The point I was trying to make earlier with the examples of the SATS boycott or the teachers who took part in the Oaxaca uprising is that teachers are potentially revolutionary, just as factory workers or call centre workers are.

Mike Harman
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Jun 9 2010 16:31
B_Reasonable wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
any situation where you have adult supervision of kids puts them in a position of 'parental' authority

Phew, that's OK then - an emancipated trans-historical set of social relations we can all rely on...

No one claims that the nuclear family is a perfect institution either, but so far no-one on this thread has claimed that every parent is a "middle class manager" because they have authority over there kids. Will you be the first to make that claim?

tsi
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Jun 9 2010 16:40

Aren't teachers just primarily (re)producing labour power? That of the parents by freeing them up to go to work, and that of a future generation of workers by training them to be a useful (for capital) and compliant workforce? In this respect public education cuts are usually a pretty transparent attack on the social wage (often leading parents being forced to pay out heaps of money in daycare to make up for shortened class time).

I really can't see how a teacher's role in the reproduction process is all that different from that of anyone else's. Is everyone whose employment involves reproducing a fairly fundamental aspect of capitalism not working class? We're going to have a pretty small class that way indeed.

petey
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Jun 9 2010 17:12
fort-da game wrote:
petey wrote:
fort-da game wrote:
My son first punched a teacher at four.

expulsion, unless the teacher relents.

That's right, and when someone punches a policeman they should go to prison. But there are approximately twenty teenage boys in my road who have been expelled... what then? For many of them, it literally is prison. As it happens, the ‘newly qualified’ teacher involved in the above mentioned incident, was, we were assured, disciplined for terrifying a little boy on his first day at school. For your mindboggling defence of the incompetence of the bourgeois professions and for advocating the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility down to 4, I hope nobody here takes your opinion seriously again.

that's a stupid and swinish response to a serious situation. obviously teachers make mistakes, i was once a new teacher myself, and no i was not present when this event happened, but you've not given much in the way of detail, so:
1: what did the teacher do?
2: you said 'first' punched a teacher at 4 - your son's been involved in more of these incidents? i notice you didn't address this. have you addressed it with your son?
3: why have 20 teenage boys on your road been expelled?

would it cross your mind that teachers are in it not for the discipline (hint: it's mostly for the learning), are actually held accountable, and - as many others have pointed out - are not just in many cases willing but ideally suited and sometimes actually practice sowing the ideas of egalitarian organization?

notice i said "teachers". i'm not hiding in abstractions: "incompetence of the bourgeois professions". incompetent? at what? there are no competent teachers? bourgeois? others here have shown the (unique, i'd add) potential for teachers to develop egalitarian ideas in the young (just said that) and have also structurally shown the w/c nature of the profession. is a calling incompetent because it's bourgeois? and what other profession are you tarring teaching with by association?

nor am i hyperventilating: "advocating the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility down to 4". how about mere responsibility? or was your son actually sent to prison?

so yes - i am defending my colleagues, and i am defending the idea that responsibility must be inculcated, and i'll leave it to the individual teacher to know how to do that. some won't. most will. and no, i am not defending the structure of schools as they presently are constituted, but this hasn't been discussed here and i'm a bit too wound up now to start.

EDIT: i had a different ending here which i've removed. i'll just say that a reading of fortdsagame's post will reveal language that i've heard before, and which suggests that his thinking on this is clouded.

Mike Harman
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Jun 9 2010 16:53
sort it out frosty wrote:
I remember hearing of kids getting school cancelled by phoning in bogus bomb threats, pulling fire alarms, etc.

They used to pull fire alarms about 2-3 times per day at the college I worked at for a period of about three months. Neither students nor staff minded the first few times, I know the people I worked with were very happy for the 20 minute break. But then it got to the point where students would refuse to leave the library during fire alarms because they didn't want to walk around the college and back again (sometimes because they wanted to do homework even!). This I had trouble sympathising with in most cases. More worryingly, whoever was doing it apparently didn't mind standing outside in the pissing rain, which the other 1500 people there did regardless of whether they were the revolutionary yoof or their middle class overlords. At no time was it a sign of any real rebelliousness (except against the norm of only pulling the fire alarm when it's decent weather).

Mike Harman
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Jun 9 2010 17:38
Quote:
I must be very stupid to diagree with you. But the supervision issue as you know is a side issue... this is the old style Libcom swarm attack where successive contibutors state ever more absurd examples based on a fabricated non-issue in order to bury a serious argument which they are losing. The question here is not adult authority over children but the systematic production of social, cultural and economic values against the interest of those who are educated to espouse them.

There are more people than just you arguing that all teachers are middle class managers on this thread, and they have been arguing that the primary role of education is a disciplinary one and against adult authority over children in general. I do not need to make absurd examples or fabricated non-issues when posters do that themselves, sorry to disappoint.

On the other hand, far from everyone who's been arguing that teachers are working class (or at least proletarianized), that teaching itself isn't an inherently working class activity (etc.) is defending education as an institution overall either. The question is whether teachers are capable of attacking that institution - not as a 'radical teacher' in the terms of the radical journalist thread, but if their class interests are actually opposed to capitalism. While there is clearly a public service mindset with teachers in the same way that there's a public service mindset with nurses or ambulance drivers, and obviously many teachers (as opposed to the handful of teachers who post on libcom) support the education system in principle if not in specifics, examples have been given where the struggles of teachers have directly opposed the negative aspects of education which you bring up - and in the case of Oaxaca where they're one of the more militant sectors of the working class. To go back to my own experiences again, the teachers were always far more miltant than any admin or support staff in terms of resisting attacks on working conditions etc., in general I have seen very little in the way of struggles by educational support staff, and plenty of teachers' strikes in the UK.

So I would appreciate it if you would not reduce this discussion to accusing me of either mis-representation of your arguments when I'm responding to someone else's, or amalgamation, neither of which I have done on this thread. And also if you'd refrain from amalgamating all the people you disagree with on this thread into 'Libcom', you yourself have been posting on here for four years now, longer than allybaba and Tarwarter combined (to name two posters who disagreed with Messrs Dupont early in the thread, not otherwise singling them out as 'Libcom').

cobbler
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Jun 9 2010 17:44
petey wrote:
cobbler wrote:
Teachers find that they have no choice but to enforce 'the rules' and this is a contradiction to their impulses. Still, there are ways and ways.

yes, and it's good to read at least one comment which seems to understand why teachers get into the business in the first place (the bolded bit). depends on the rule of course, i assume you're referring to the merely regimental stuff.

Yes, pretty much. If you're talking about showing respect to others, or not punching little Jimmy just because you can then that's important and worthwhile stuff. Having said that, the way it is done matters a lot. Some teachers impose everything by verbal bullying and aggression. I don't find that acceptable.

Putting kids in detention for smoking, well. It's amazing what a well thought out strategy can do to allow them to move between 'safe areas' before they're found.

But realistically, if a teacher is found to have not enforced certain rules then they are going to end up being disciplined themselves as it forms part of the contract. You can still do it sensitively though, giving the pupil an opportunity to see how things are. You either do this or abandon teaching to only those people who wish to be authoritarian conformist reactionaries.

cobbler
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Jun 9 2010 17:55
Vlad336 wrote:
Yes teachers may objectively have more authority over a greater number of people than other professionals, but in most cases that is a very limited authority, of which the worst effects usually are the utter failure to impart any meaningful knowledge onto the student and the potential sabotaging of the student's career if he/she proves really "uncooperative."

I was just thinking along these lines myself. For all the supposed authority of a single teacher, if a groups wants to mess them around then there's really very little a teacher can do (witness the case recently of the teacher who barbelled a student)

The authority comes from the school as a whole but still requires an element of voluntary compliance from the pupil. After all, the worse which can happen is that they are told not to attend any more! More recently courts are involved with issues of non attendance, but I think that's a different, albeit connected issue.

sort it out frosty
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Jun 9 2010 18:11
cobbler wrote:
But realistically, if a teacher is found to have not enforced certain rules then they are going to end up being disciplined themselves as it forms part of the contract. You can still do it sensitively though, giving the pupil an opportunity to see how things are. You either do this or abandon teaching to only those people who wish to be authoritarian conformist reactionaries.

... and thats the problem and thats why it would be unacceptable for teachers (rather than adult instructors, eg English foreign language or driving) to be part of any anarchist/revolutionary group IMO. Same as cops, managers, social workers, screws, priests, & trade union high up fat cats. Nothing personal.

Boris Badenov
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Jun 9 2010 18:37
sort it out frosty wrote:
Same as cops, managers, social workers, screws, priests, & trade union high up fat cats. Nothing personal.

You know just because you keep repeating it, it doesn't make it true. I think plenty of people have already made a good case for why teachers' authority is significantly different from that of bosses and cops. Despite the many horror stories that have been brought up on this thread, the fact remains that all that the vast majority of teachers can do is to inculcate in students the appropriate "vocational skills" that will make them good workers in the future. This is what their authority boils down to, not brainwashing you to believe capitalism is amazing (I haven't actually taken an economy, or political philosophy class in my life tbh). There are plenty of uneducated people who support the current economic system. Capitalist social relations are reproduced by everyone at all times.
By comparison, cops can do a great deal of things that teachers can't do. They can get away with murder, they can attack immigrant workers and jail them, they can facilitate the operations of organized crime (also at the expense of workers' welfare obviously), they can break strikes, etc.
Similarly bosses can fire you, make it hard for you to get a new job, force you to work overtime (which is not the same as a teacher making a pupil do his homework; saying that trivializes the experience of waged labour), etc.
To claim that teachers are "same as cops, managers" is therefore ridiculously simplistic and ultimately baseless, if you subscribe to any sort of economic class struggle view.
I have met some pretty abusive and despicable teachers in my time (mostly in grade school), but it never once made me think that they are just like the bastards who made my life a living hell while working shitty minimum wage summer jobs.
In addition, had it not been for one of my teachers in high school, who introduced me to Marxist thought, I would have probably remained a committed anti-communist because of my then conviction that Stalinism and communism are the same thing. Everything I learned about politics, economics, and so on started out as an intellectual impetus from a well-meaning teacher (although like I've said, I've never really formally studied these subjects).
In conclusion,
1) it is disingenuous to infer from a few examples of teachers abusing their students that all teachers are power-hungry authoritarians who would rather see you squirming on the floor than enjoying learning new things.
2) teachers demonstrably do not have the same authority as bosses and cops, and their role in propagating capitalist thinking cannot be singled out because every activity, from buying a lettuce head in the supermarket, to making a speech at a political rally, obscures the fundamentally unequal and unjust social relations that exist in a capitalist society. Teachers are no more "bourgeoisifying agents" than are uneducated "genuine" proles who read the Daily Mail and believe what they read.

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888
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Jun 9 2010 19:04

At what student age does a teacher stop being managerial? 17? 18? 19? Obviously university lecturers and teaching assistants aren't enforcing any discipline (or barely any - I know I fucking didn't), same with evening class teachers...

We could also ask, at what age does a teacher stop being parental and start being managerial? 3? 4? 13?

fort-da game
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Jun 9 2010 19:25
petey wrote:
fort-da game wrote:
petey wrote:
fort-da game wrote:
My son first punched a teacher at four.

expulsion, unless the teacher relents.

That's right, and when someone punches a policeman they should go to prison. But there are approximately twenty teenage boys in my road who have been expelled... what then? For many of them, it literally is prison. As it happens, the ‘newly qualified’ teacher involved in the above mentioned incident, was, we were assured, disciplined for terrifying a little boy on his first day at school. For your mindboggling defence of the incompetence of the bourgeois professions and for advocating the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility down to 4, I hope nobody here takes your opinion seriously again.

that's a stupid and swinish response to a serious situation.

Really, I thought you were calling for expulsion. Your first instinct was towards violent punishment against a little boy who you thought must be held responsible.

Quote:
obviously teachers make mistakes, i was once a new teacher myself,

Teachers make mistakes but little boys must be punished.

Quote:
and no i was not present when this event happened, but you've not given much in the way of detail, so:
1: what did the teacher do?

How would I know? How could I find out? From the teacher?

Quote:
2: you said 'first' punched a teacher at 4 - your son's been involved in more of these incidents? i notice you didn't address this. have you addressed it with your son?

He has been involved in disruptive incidents. The locus of the problem is directed upon the child not the environment.

Quote:
3: why have 20 teenage boys on your road been expelled?

Because they are failures. Because they are uncontrollable. Because the measures taken to help them have not worked. They are the kind of people who you pass judgement on, the one's who you call for to be expelled.

Quote:
would it cross your mind that teachers are in it not for the discipline (hint: it's mostly for the learning), are actually held accountable, and - as many others have pointed out - are not just in many cases willing but ideally suited and sometimes actually practice sowing the ideas of egalitarian organization?

That is true of many political parties which have attempted to reform bourgeois institutions from the inside. My point is precisely that it is this ideological commitment which separates the professions from workers, their judgement on others is institutionalised.

Quote:
notice i said "teachers". i'm not hiding in abstractions: "incompetence of the bourgeois professions". incompetent? at what? there are no competent teachers? bourgeois?

Incompetent in the sense that the bourgeoisie advocate ideals which they cannot deliver because of the inherent contradictions of the productive order which have given rise to the ideals. And because those ideals are an ideology which mask class domination.

Quote:
others here have shown the (unique, i'd add) potential for teachers to develop egalitarian ideas in the young (just said that) and have also structurally shown the w/c nature of the profession. is a calling incompetent because it's bourgeois? and what other profession are you tarring teaching with by association?

You win on that one as I don't understand what you are talking about. I have asked for someone to make a case for the continuation of education in a post-revolutionary society and how it would work exactly. This case has not been made.

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nor am i hyperventilating: "advocating the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility down to 4". how about mere responsibility? or was your son actually sent to prison?

How can a four year old possibly be responsible?

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so yes - i am defending my colleagues, and i am defending the idea that responsibility must be inculcated, and i'll leave it to the individual teacher to know how to do that. some won't. most will. and no, i am not defending the structure of schools as they presently are constituted, but this hasn't been discussed here and i'm a bit too wound up now to start.

Incorrect, this is precisely the topic of discussion... you cannot address the fact that teachers are carriers of ideology and ideology is a form of violence. One aspect of ideology is the construction of false identifications, i.e. professional bodies whose interest is defined against that of others. You will defend the interest of your colleagues as that appears within the capitalist social relation against the interest of children as human beings in their own right. When it will comes down to it, you wish to preserve your role which is defined and defended by law, state, capital and class.

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EDIT: i had a different ending here which i've removed. i'll just say that a reading of fortdsagame's post will reveal language that i've heard before, and which suggests that his thinking on this is clouded.

You may be very right, it is not nice to read for the calls for expulsion of children. But even so, this is a public forum dedicated to the promotion of struggle against class domination... thus far Libcom has only made a defence of social managers and existing social institutions. If you are against class domination then make a presentation of which capitalist institutions you are against and which you are not and in what manner you propose to transform those you are against and how you are going to maintain those you are not against.

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fingers malone
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Jun 9 2010 19:34

At what age does a teacher stop being managerial? Well it´s a different relationship as soon as it´s not legally obligatory to be at school, but the treatment of 16-19s is getting more and more punitive and more school like at the moment. FE colleges are kind of the new secondary moderns for what are percieved as "no good" students. Well I was a teacher in FE when I lived in England, and the only power you had over the adult students was to kick them out, and the reason why that would be a punishment was because errr... they really wanted to be there. You have power over them in some ways in terms of being "the one who knows" and a bit of administrative power, but mainly I felt we were all in a big sausage machine that didn´t care about me, or the students, or whether they actually learned stuff, just that they passed exams and attracted funding. The management were constantly attacking the teachers and attacking the students, I spent half the days trying to shield the students from the management really.

I felt it was kind of worrying sometimes when, as the students don´t speak English so they need a lot of help from you with forms, letters, jobs, benefits, problems in general, so they need to keep on your good side, but I feel in the same situation with a neighbour who doesn´t speak English and needs my help to phone the electricity company or whatever. Ok, someone needs your help so you have a little bit of power over them. Yes, but it´s a very very little bit. No-one is pays me to help my neighbour phone the leccy board and no-one pays me to help my student phone the council (you do that kind of thing in your own time.)

Where it gets really really murky is now they want the teachers to be part of the immigration policing process, not reporting people to immigration but policing who is entitled and who isn´t entitled to education. But a lot of teachers really fight that.

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fingers malone
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Jun 9 2010 19:36

And it´s not like being a prison guard at all. I only had one little key to the classroom, and it wasn´t even on a chain.

Boris Badenov
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Jun 9 2010 19:39
fingers malone wrote:
but mainly I felt we were all in a big sausage machine that didn´t care about me, or the students, or whether they actually learned stuff, just that they passed exams and attracted funding. The management were constantly attacking the teachers and attacking the students,

My experience also.

fort-da game
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Jun 9 2010 19:55
Mike Harman wrote:
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I must be very stupid to diagree with you. But the supervision issue as you know is a side issue... this is the old style Libcom swarm attack where successive contibutors state ever more absurd examples based on a fabricated non-issue in order to bury a serious argument which they are losing. The question here is not adult authority over children but the systematic production of social, cultural and economic values against the interest of those who are educated to espouse them.

There are more people than just you arguing that all teachers are middle class managers on this thread, and they have been arguing that the primary role of education is a disciplinary one and against adult authority over children in general. I do not need to make absurd examples or fabricated non-issues when posters do that themselves, sorry to disappoint.

I didn't say middle class managers, I said social managers. The issue is not teachers but the function of education. Teachers are embodiments of a set of bourgeois values... this, as has been made clear from the start, has nothing to do with the character of teachers. It is absurd to argue that the teaching profession has no active, directive role in education. This role is quite distinct from that of other workers.

There are two distinct issues here: a. the role of education in capitalist society which Libcom wants to equate with all other activities (a bizarre argument which I think is based on so many of its members being teachers); b. paradoxically, that education is really important and must be maintained in a post-revolutionary society. Either education is central or it isn't. If it is, then it is pivotal in capitalist reproduction. If it isn't, then why do you want to retain it?

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On the other hand, far from everyone who's been arguing that teachers are working class (or at least proletarianized), that teaching itself isn't an inherently working class activity (etc.) is defending education as an institution overall either. The question is whether teachers are capable of attacking that institution - not as a 'radical teacher' in the terms of the radical journalist thread, but if their class interests are actually opposed to capitalism.

Okay, this is the first time Libcom has made this argument. This is precisely what I have been talking about. Is it possible, really to attack it as a manager whilst preserving the role of manager? I don't really get your conception of capitalist social relations... but at the very basic level communists must agree that social relations are mediated through established institutions such as the law, the state, the institutions of the state, and that it is not possible to simply self-manage these institutions and put them to a different purpose by act of will. Yes, you are the first here to say, 'attacking that institution' – you are the one who is most uncomfortable with the Libcom self-management line.

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While there is clearly a public service mindset with teachers in the same way that there's a public service mindset with nurses or ambulance drivers, and obviously many teachers (as opposed to the handful of teachers who post on libcom) support the education system in principle if not in specifics, examples have been given where the struggles of teachers have directly opposed the negative aspects of education which you bring up - and in the case of Oaxaca where they're one of the more militant sectors of the working class. To go back to my own experiences again, the teachers were always far more miltant than any admin or support staff in terms of resisting attacks on working conditions etc., in general I have seen very little in the way of struggles by educational support staff, and plenty of teachers' strikes in the UK.

This is getting to the sort of stuff I think should be discussed... I disagree of course with your conclusions, as it is not a militant mindset that is significant, there have been radical teachers and conservative teachers but their class position (as for example, Bourdieu demonstrates) remains unchanged – next year or some other year, the ideology of the teachers of Oaxaca will revert to what education was first used for in that country, i.e. the extermination of non-bourgeois cultures. Their militancy is essentially bourgeois and liberal until they begin a critique of roles.

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So I would appreciate it if you would not reduce this discussion to accusing me of either mis-representation of your arguments when I'm responding to someone else's, or amalgamation, neither of which I have done on this thread. And also if you'd refrain from amalgamating all the people you disagree with on this thread into 'Libcom', you yourself have been posting on here for four years now, longer than allybaba and Tarwarter combined (to name two posters who disagreed with Messrs Dupont early in the thread, not otherwise singling them out as 'Libcom').

There is no discussion. At least not yet and nor will there be until Libcom sets out what they mean exactly by education, until they state which elements of capitalism they are in favour of and which they are against. I use the term Libcom to denote those who advocate the political norms for this site, I think that is fair enough.

fort-da game
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Jun 9 2010 20:24
Rob Ray wrote:
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this is the old style Libcom swarm attack

And if lots of different people disagree with some of what you're saying that hardly amounts to being 'swarmed,' it just means your arguments aren't winning people over - so try harder, and perhaps try being a bit more polite.

Maybe you are right, maybe I just wish it to be so so as to replay the old times. But on the other hand, Libcom has always directed its energy at attacking those who it sees as making 'extremist' arguments. The intensity of these attacks against those it conceives as overstepping the mark far surpasses that of its critique of capital... thus, those who give their account of being alienated by school or prisons, or even work itself are attacked whilst, bizarrely, work, prison and schools (i.e. the institutions of capital) are either implicitly or even explicitly defended. The critique of 'primitivists' of capitalist relations is more energetically condemned than the capitalist relation itself, even though primitivists have no power. Whilst there is plenty of vitriol for 'nutters' the anger alarmingly dissipates when it comes to the critique of capital (which apparently has a progressive role) – we only need to look at Libcom's new aims and principles for an example of this weakness. I do not think I am the only one to be mystified by these peculiarities. I understand that there is some sort of theory of practicality and pragmatism at work which wants to dissociate 'the real movement' from 'nutters' and 'mentalists' but really this pragmatism is still a utopian idealism akin to failing in daydreams... the ideology of reasonable, blairite, anarcho-communism has as much chance of realisation as the most far-fetched utopian conceits (i.e no chance). So why not adopt genuine critiques of capitalist social relations beginning with an attack on the institutions which condition us? Which institutions are you for and against and how do you propose that they be transformed in order that they do not perpetuate class domination?

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cantdocartwheels
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Jun 9 2010 21:26
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I can't do cartwheels either but I can recognise moralistic sophistry and tautology (and I didn't learn those words 'til I left school!). The necessity of classrooms is provided by the fact that there is no family at home. They're off being proletariats and managers.

So every child should be aducated in science, maths, art and plumbing by their parents on their days off work. Maybe i'll get my dad to teach me physics and electronics aswell or maybe thats just a really stupid and poorly thought out idea with no basis in reality.

Also you do realise people will still have to do like ''jobs'' in a communist society right? I mean we might labour less hours over the course of a week or a month etc but we'll still be ''working''. Likewise there will still be occupations that effectively demand we spend long periods of time away from home, whether thats being a doctor, night work, 24 hour caring or crewing a ship transporting goods across the atlantic or scientific research or whatever, no doubt these will be compensated by equally long periods of time off work, but they still need doing and you can;t pop in and do a two hour shift as a doctor or night worker because frankly thats mental. The idea that everyone would have the time let alone the desire or ability to teach their kids at home is a hippy fantasy from the same stable as people who want to live in small isolated communities or some other fatuous brand of rural idiocy.

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Pro-revolutionary critique must begin from the point where the damage is being done – it begins with putting into words that traumatic experience which otherwise passes unspoken (how is it that teachers so often fail to put themselves in the position of the children who are bewildered and exhausted by the environment of school?) All this pain, all this mental illness, all these addictions and sense of failure and emptiness and boredom and worthlessness begins at school – because school is where you are prepared for work...

jesus christ, talk about turning communism into some ridiculous liberal cry-in, seriously grow some balls

cobbler
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Jun 9 2010 22:39
fort-da game wrote:
You need to demonstrate how it is possible to ‘self-manage’ a school or a factory and avoid not simply reproducing the same class distinctions, the same mystifying ideologies.

I'm interested to know if you followed the link I posted earlier.

What is your response to this school?

http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/pages/index.html

Armed Sheep
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Jun 9 2010 22:41

To cantdocartwheels

Yes, well, I guess apologists will always apologize and critics criticize. If your idea of communist or any other society includes so much of what we already have, factory farming, factory schooling, factory child-rearing, factory fucking, then count me out. I don't have a job now and I won't then.

Maybe you can convince other rurales, hippys or idiot wankers to clean your toilet after the revolution. What will have changed but your own rank and prestige in the great productive hierarchy?

Also you do realise that corporate fat fucks already enjoy anarcho-communism? (they transcend the law and circulate wealth among themselves and self-manage not only their own concerns but everybody else's too) Where even is your class-based analysis if you are ready to exclude everyone not like yourself? The "normals"!

Is this what Fort da game is talking about referring to the libcom mentality?

cobbler
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Jun 9 2010 22:55
sort it out frosty wrote:
The question is not just that education is an industry we want to get rid but of a difference in class interests.

Teachers may be as nice & lefty as you like but their job is to make sure kids do their work, dont bunk off, etc.
.....
In college I liked a few of my teachers but there could never have been solidarity between them & me (as far as they were teachers) because they were i authority over me. This is obvious stuff. Education is about "domesticating" the working class to fit into capitalism.

I'm curious to know why, since you appear to feel this way so strongly, that you voluntarily submitted to such a thing. College is, after all, voluntary post 16 education.

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But in the power dynamic between teachers & students I support the students.

But by the logic of other things you've said, you shouldn't want there to be students, at least not as we understand it: submitting to the educational establishment which only moulds them for a place in capitalist society. I don't see how you can have it both ways.

Besides. If I had a skill or knowledge you wanted to learn from me, do you not think it reasonable that I place at least some demands upon you such as being civil to me and other students, and not disrupting the efforts of others to learn. If you failed to meet those demands I would tell to to fuck off and spend your time somewhere else. Teachers in schools, of course, can't actually do that...

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This conflict is the main experience of education I've experienced.

This seems to me to be the nub of the matter. You had a crap time at school, for whatever reason, and are attempting to build an analysis which justifies your anger and frustration in terms of class conflict. Understandable, but not always the best way to reach a satisfactory conclusion.