"Being a teacher is like being a prison guard"

354 posts / 0 new
Last post
cobbler
Offline
Joined: 22-12-09
Jun 9 2010 23:02
sort it out frosty wrote:
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.

I don't think you're talking about the same thing.
The text you quote talks of individuals who are 'members of definite groups with real solidarity' and you appear to equate this to 'atomised people' who 'form a mass'.

I don't think they are equivalent ideas.

Using your physics analogy.
An atomised substance forms a cloud or a gas. You don't get a solid mass until those individual atoms relinquish some of their individual freedoms and form some bonds and relations.

cobbler
Offline
Joined: 22-12-09
Jun 9 2010 23:01
Armed Sheep wrote:
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.

Can you point out where people said that they support such structures? I must have missed it.

cantdocartwheels's picture
cantdocartwheels
Offline
Joined: 15-03-04
Jun 9 2010 23:20
Armed Sheep wrote:
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.

So you just plan on doing what exactly?
Say we hypothetically had communism tomorow, what exactly would you do? If i had the choice i'd probably teach kids or do carework myself, though i wouldn;t mind doing street sweeping or the bins again, how about you?

Quote:
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?

Whats wrong with cleaning toilets exactly?
As a cleaner and a carworker i did it all the time and quite likely will do again at some point in the future, its a job that needs doing like any other. How exactly do you imagine the hospitals you were born in and may or may not frequently use are kept clean?

RedHughs
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Jun 10 2010 00:06

Forte,

I'm sorry about the situation of your kid. I spent quite a bit of time in various "special classes" in the US after being unable/unwilling to adapt to the "normal" class room. Being singled out as unacceptable by a teacher is obviously a less-than-pleasant experience.

I'd agree that some portion of Libcom reproduces the popular bile against the fringe. But that's because, they aren't necessarily that different from the populace... there's no entrance test for posters here you know.

Still, despite all the "they can be nice people" talk, it seems to me like the "teachers are like prison guards" language is pretty much only about dissing the teachers and doesn't any real analytical "legs" to stand on. IE, How does "inculcating bourgeois ideology" make someone bourgeois? It might make them despicable but that's a different question. The bullies who queer-bashed me when I was in elementary school were certainly inculcating bourgeois ideology but that hardly made them bourgeois (well, I'll admit they weren't paid for it but the question remains). Indeed, most adults inculcate bourgeois ideology to the children they interact with, parent first of all - and parent especially these days do this by sitting the kid in front of a television set - since TV is free child care. When a child goes anywhere, since the child isn't indoctrinated to acceptable capitalist behavior, any adult around will indoctrinate them. The bus drivers demand money and tell them to sit, the store clerks keep the merchandise safe, etc. A communist society would "indoctrinate" children too, just into different behaviors and hopefully in a different fashion. Society reproduces itself - obviously, we're here because we don't like this society and thus seeing society reproduce itself is unpleasant to us. But that's not about the working class/professional divide as such.

Moreover, teachers are providing a "use value", education. Education absolutely has a use value within the context of capitalist society just as artificially sweetened soda has a use value within the context of capitalist society even if both of these are detrimental to a person's wider human existence. The whole analysis of capitalist relations rests analyzing the processes within capitalist society - but of course, the contradictions within are what hopefully burst out at some point - but I've heard you're a "pessimist" on this .

Unlike Cantodocartwheels, I don't think that prison guards would have any place in a new world and don't expect many prison guards join a revolution. None-the-less, prison guards seem to be working class to me - they sell their labor, they don't have much choice concerning the conditions of this labor and they don't have any "intellectual capital" to manage (Cops seem above prison guards here and cops might even have more intellectual capital than teachers for all I know). My impression moreover is that prison guards are recruited from the traditional working class and generally return to it if they leave the profession. There's actually a stronger argument for teacher being professionals in the sense that they might conceivably be called semi-independent proprietors of some small chunk of intellectual capital. But I'd say overall, the small size of this scrap makes this unlikely. Moreover, the advancement of student loans, at least in the US, means that those who previously were barely-ostensibly professionals like teachers now no longer own even their small scrap of intellectual capital and so can wind-up effectively proletarianized (a fair number of lawyers and college professions now have a minimum-wage-level income after paying their debts).

Capitalism has tasks it needs doing and it pays people to do them. Given the decadence of capital, many, probably most, of those tasks are useless or counter to longer term human existence. Nonetheless, workers do them because they get paid. The folks willing to worst stuff, whether guarding prisoners, scabbing on strikes or secretly dumping toxic chemicals are unpleasant people made more unpleasant by their task but they remain working class unless and until they attain actual, honest-to-capital chunk of capital to manage, at least on the level of being a professional, independent proprietor or where-ever you want to put the bar for capitalist.

The worker/capitalist division is not a moral division. And Bob Dylan as said "I know you always say that you agree".

Of course, you still feel the need for some Marxian language to dis the cops and teachers with, you could call them "unproductive wage laborers".

Boris Badenov
Offline
Joined: 25-08-08
Jun 9 2010 23:38
Red Hughs wrote:
The worker/capitalist division is not a moral division.

Which is what most people who disagree with the OP, as far as I can tell, have been arguing on this thread. So why disingenuously reduce it to ""they can be nice people" talk? It seems strange, esp. since you are saying pretty much the same stuff as the "nice people talk" folks.

Also, off topic, what is this supposed to mean?

Quote:
I'd agree that some portion of Libcom reproduces the popular bile against the fringe. But that's because, they aren't necessarily that different from the populace... there's no entrance test for posters here you know.

I don't see any tribalist hatred for the (self-proclaimed) "fringe" here. I disagree with Garco & co. and have tried to explain at length why I disagree. Catch, RR and others have been doing the same; what is so biliary about that?

RedHughs
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Jun 10 2010 00:13

Vlad, on your first quote, I can't tell if you are talking to me or Forte... I too disagree with the original post. I hope I don't give a different impression.

Quote:
I don't see any tribalist hatred for the (self-proclaimed) "fringe" here. I disagree with Garco & co. and have tried to explain at length why I disagree. Catch, RR and others have been doing the same; what is so biliary about that?

I wouldn't necessarily say there has that much on this thread but on the site as a whole one can indeed find sneers against "hippies" and such. Still

On this thread, wrote:
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.

Forte might be reacting to that...

(I more or less agree with Cantodocartwheels on this thread but I would note that his idea of communism and my idea of communism seem rather different in general. I wouldn't necessarily expect everyone to teach their own children in under communism but I'd imagine a minimum toil society where everyone would have enough time for that or similar self-directed project).

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Jun 10 2010 00:50
RedHughs wrote:
I wouldn't necessarily say there has that much on this thread but on the site as a whole one can indeed find sneers against "hippies" and such.

in Brighton, non-hippies are the fringe sad

Armed Sheep
Offline
Joined: 21-03-09
Jun 10 2010 02:18

I think we should all enroll at Summerhills School.

Can't do, sorry I came off insulting. I got stuck in a bit of tit for tat with the hippy slash rural slash fatuous idiocy comment, which not only describes me to a tee, I take pride in it.

So your question as to what I'd do if "we hypothetically had communism tomorrow", I'd say "nothing different than I'm already doing except give up a few luxuries". My neighbors and I would still help each other out. We'd eat well, but everything would be harvested locally or come from traveling visitors, who themselves might leave with something new and different. I'd get to see my grand kids a lot more often. I might make it to an ocean beach hitching a ride on a donkey cart full of apples. I'm working on an idea to put dumpstered plastic and nylon into solution for a gasoline replacement. So far the octane is way too high. That is just another fatuous luxury, but I'm getting pretty old. To tell you the truth, twenty people with hand scythes can cut my hay field faster and easier than I can on the tractor.

The point is, think what could be accomplished outside of any capitalist institutions in a city, as long as they didn't piss off the rural folks who still know how to make food and do-it-yourselfer "primmy" types who know how to make rope and sewing thread and shit like that.

No one here has to do anything they don't want to do -- alone or otherwise -- including teach kids or convert an old diesel tractor to run on rendered tallow. A lot still gets done because we like doing it. I think a lot of other folks would realise they're not alone after all, would be happier, and that would make me happier too.

It's not "we should just get along". It is "we will learn to get along or we will kill each other" and you can't learn this sort of shit from a book or in a classroom. The experiment must be expropriated from the scientist, and no one will be left out but biggots and assholes.

Well, that's my theory, anyway. You might find it a bit influenced by Conquest of Bread. I do. But I think Kropotkin's ideas on industrialised agriculture were a bit naive. But big greenhouses in the Temperate cities? Not a bad idea if you can leave the industrial strength chemicals out.

But this has now gone completely off topic. I don't have a problem with that since I think everything's connected. So I'll just put in this last topical sentimentality to close:

Like I meant to say my first day in kindergarten, "Schools are for fish!".

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Jun 10 2010 05:18
fort-da game wrote:
I didn't say middle class managers, I said social managers.
Garco wrote:
Teachers are members of the middle class; they are social managers

Middle class social managers == middle class managers.

So Garco is not you, and I was paraphrasing rather than direct quoting, but there is no fundamental difference in meaning.

Quote:
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.

Much of the past 30-40 years of reforms in education have precisely been about attacking that active, directive role that teachers have. Where I've done tutoring, there was definitely an active role, since no curriculum etc., with teaching you have lesson preparation, and you can spend hours trying to make it interesting (in unpaid overtime of course), but many of the struggles against testing etc. are also about teachers having more freedom to determine curriculum rather than having it set by their actual managers (whether school administration, exam boards etc.). The quite blanket statements you make don't reflect the various contradictions which are to be found.

Quote:
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);

If you put this argument in the sense that education as an industry has increasingly come to resemble other industries in terms of its organisation (division of labour between education policy makers and theorists and actual teachers, standardisation etc. - i.e. the proletarianisation of teachers) then I don't think it's a very bizarre argument. In terms of the role of workers, many, many workers in many different sectors find themselves on contradictory positions due to their work, sometimes much worse ones than teachers. I had temp jobs in the NHS which really did feel like being a prison guard (at one point opening and closing doors on a forensic psychiatric ward all day, this was a £7/hour receptionist job).

Is education a unique industry, well of course it fucking is - it's 10-15 years of your formative years spent there, but the food industry, healthcare industry etc. are no less unique or capable of making a complete mess of people.

Quote:
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?

I'm sure if the people arguing for 'education in a post-revolutionary society' had replaced 'education' with 'learning' you'd not be picking up on this at all. Do I think people between the ages of 5-16 are likely to attend somewhere during the day where they do activities collectively, yes I do. Do I think adults will be there? Yep. Are some of those adults likely to be specialists dealing with particular subjects or learning in general? Probably yes too. Will that place look anything like schools do now, likely not. If we claim to want to abolish work as such, then the same argument has to be made for education (otherwise where the fuck will you find the teachers to sit in a room with 30 kids 40 hours/week), but this does not mean that labour as the general category of producing things will stop, nor that learning as the general category of acquiring skills, knowledge etc. will stop.

Quote:
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?

If you go on strike, (excepting crappy one day ones), then you're not really preserving the role of teacher - your kids will be at home all day with their parents instead no? If you occupy the school (and while this is pretty rare, there are joint occupations of staff and students), then it's precisely the teacher/student relationship which breaks down in those situations. This is very different to the arguments on the anarchist academics threads about people publishing articles in academic journals criticising the education system.

But while most strikes do not really challenge the role of worker, do not attack the centre of the institutions those workers work in, nor do the struggles of teachers do this often either. Once again the onus is on you to explain why it is exactly that the often limited framework that teachers' struggles operate in is so much different from that in other industries.

Quote:
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.

Once again, the self-management of the school as school is no more or less feasible than the self-management of the factory as factory, the farm as farm, the supermarket as supermarket. It's quite a leap to go from there to say that communism will be devoid of manufacturing, agriculture, distribution, or the organised learning and collective socialisation of kids involving people who aren't their biological parents.

Quote:
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

I didn't say a militant mindset, I was discussing their practical activities within the class struggle. It's quite possible to fight for working class interests without being a 'militant' as such. And of course for working class people involved in heightened class struggle to retreat to reactionary and passive ideology once it's subsided.

Quote:
Their militancy is essentially bourgeois and liberal until they begin a critique of roles.

And for any worker.

Quote:
I use the term Libcom to denote those who advocate the political norms for this site, I think that is fair enough.

While there are patterns, I don't feel there are a defined set of political norms which define this site, certainly not one which you can safely put yourself outside and point the finger at.

ajjohnstone
Offline
Joined: 20-04-08
Jun 10 2010 08:56

The SPGB published a pamphlet way back in 1959 , heyday of educational change from Grammar to Comprehensives .

Quote:
"... schooling under capitalism is scarcely education at all, but the training of young people in the skills and disciplines the system requires...To say that education under capitalism is education for capitalism is not to accuse the ruling class of conspiracy. All education is the process of adapting and equipping children for the world in which they live: implanting morality, fostering attitudes and habits, teaching the basic skills which that world requires..An education works like that, aiming at no more and no less than to fit the young to support the society in which they live..."
"...The individual teacher can have considerable personal influence. He (or she) can communicate his own attitudes and enthusiasms, and make learning attractive or wearisome. It is clear that the only people who ought to do a job of this kind are those who want to, and equally clear that this cannot happen in a world like ours. Many arts graduates become teachers today simply because there is almost no other job open to them: what else can be done with a degree in literature or history?...That is not to denigrate teachers, but to point out that they are workpeople in a far-from ideal world. Some are very good, and some are very bad...What a teacher cannot do is alter the educational system..."
"...the school under capitalism resembles a factory in which materials are tested, classified and put through processes which will mould them into finished products for the market ranging from the cheap, mass-produced to the costlier high-grade article..."
"...True education, the developing of each individual towards his own well-being and that of society, has not yet been attempted. What is necessary for it is the re-organization not of schools, but of society."

http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/pdf/st.pdf

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Jun 10 2010 09:08

Just curious Armed Sheep, if you have no intention of working post-revolution, how are you planning to sustain yourself? An anarchist society still needs to reproduce itself, which implies work. From everyone. I mean I personally have no intention of throwing off the weight of capitalists simply to end up supporting your lazy behind instead.

And for all that you complain that cantdocartwheels wouldn't clean the loos, he is part of an organisation (SolFed) which has a clear idea of distributing work in a fair and equal manner - which would include everything from teaching to wielding a bog brush once in a while.

gypsy
Offline
Joined: 20-09-09
Jun 10 2010 11:39
Rob Ray wrote:
Just curious Armed Sheep, if you have no intention of working post-revolution, how are you planning to sustain yourself? An anarchist society still needs to reproduce itself, which implies work. From everyone. I mean I personally have no intention of throwing off the weight of capitalists simply to end up supporting your lazy behind instead.

And for all that you complain that cantdocartwheels wouldn't clean the loos, he is part of an organisation (SolFed) which has a clear idea of distributing work in a fair and equal manner - which would include everything from teaching to wielding a bog brush once in a while.

I agree.

Valeriano Orobó...
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Jun 10 2010 14:50

Compulsary state education, i gather this is the subject, was set up obviously as one more way of social control by the 19th century state: the state took charge of producing law abiding workers, respectable of the state and social hierarchy, relieving the private sector to fund it. It was as well a powerful tool to consolidate nation-states (in France for instance, was established by a notoriously racist imperialist politician, Jules Ferry)

Nevertheless its meaning change from one country to another: in Spain (that's where i write from and where i work as a geography and history teacher -yes, one of those prison guards) the state school meant mainly a triumph against clerical monopoly of compulsory education, mostly supported by republicans. Today we, state education teachers, still have to put up with accusations from the right of being gay red anticlericals trying to turn the kids into gay red anticlericals. While that is far from being true, most of the teachers being conventional feeble-spirited persons, it is true nevertheless that on the contrary to the private sector, mostly in catholic hands, it does allow you to take certain liberties. For instance: almost every year i teach kids that are around 15 years old, even if the age range i'm entitled to teach goes from 12 to 18 and this year in my classes apart of tackling with any kind of homophobic or racist innuendo, we dealt with: outsourcing (how it happens, who benefits from it), building crisis (council fundings, whose profits, gentrification), mass tourism and its consequences (destruction of the country, pollution, waste of water supply), GMO, how to read an article between the lines, how to detect the fundamental arguments in it, how to write a summary and to build a sketch, among other things...and yes, all of this had to be done in an atmosphere of mutual respect, which of course didn't mean they couldn't question his teacher or the way the class was handle, nor should they stay still and frozen (to work hard on a subject doesn't necessarily mean it has to be painful and utterly boring, i think)

How all of this turns me into a transmitter of bourgeois thinking and prejudices is beyond me.

Fort da game, i understand your rage because what happened to your kid and the way my colleagues deal with troubled (in their eyes) kids is infuriating for me too. I had a lot of rows with them because of that. It is true as well that our current systems suffer from a standardization that punishes and excludes unconventional kids, sometimes awfully at a very early age. But socialization do exist and if there's is not a decent state school there for working-class kids, it is the TV that is going to do it because the parents aren't able to be home until late in the evening when they are knackered enough to be able to do other than basics.

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Jun 10 2010 15:28
Quote:
was set up obviously as one more way of social control by the 19th century state

It's a fair bit more complicated than just that though, there were a number of factors driving the growth of state education. Off the top of my head some of those would include:

- It was in part a reaction to the growing influence of worker-controlled educational establishments as a means to rein in radicalism. By providing schooling for free they undermined a key strength and source of influence for the left.
- It was ALSO a response to growing demands from the working class itself for education which could be a major cause of social conflict if left unchecked.
- The state needed a means of creating an educated, re-trainable workforce to stabilise/undermine the wage demands of skilled workers.

I'd categorise all that as economic rather than social control, as it was underpinning productive capacity directly rather than trying to push kids in a particular ideological direction.

I have no doubt that social control was also on their minds, but actually the reality of the situation was not a free ride for that either - pressure from below helped influence what was being taught and occasionally rebelled both within the system (eg. the Burston School strike in 1914) and against it (such as via Summerhill in 1921 and the Free Schools movement in the 1960s).

Basically education and its relation to social control is a massively complicated beast influenced by parents, kids, politicians, economics and teachers. It's really not good enough to try and summarise with "they're all like prison guards" or "they're just tools of social control."

Valeriano Orobó...
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Jun 10 2010 15:31
Rob Ray wrote:
Quote:
was set up obviously as one more way of social control by the 19th century state

It's a fair bit more complicated than that, there were a number of factors driving the growth of state education. Off the top of my head some of those would include:

- It was in part a reaction to the growing influence of worker-controlled educational establishments as a means to rein in radicalism. By providing schooling for free they undermined a key strength and source of influence for the left.
- It was ALSO a response to growing demands from the working class itself for education which could be a major cause of social conflict if left unchecked.
- The state needed a means of creating an educated, re-trainable workforce to stabilise/undermine the wage demands of skilled workers.

Having said this I have no doubt that social control was also on their minds, but actually the reality of the situation was not a free ride for that either - pressure from below helped influence what was being taught and occasionally rebelled both within the system (eg. the Burston School strike in 1914) and against it (such as via Summerhill in 1921 and the Free Schools movement in the 1960s).

Basically education and its relation to social control is a massively complicated beast influenced by parents, kids, politicians, economics and teachers. It's really not good enough to try and summarise with "they're all like prison guards" or "they're just tools of social control."

Agree with everything you said. On the subject of worker-controlled educational places, sure you know the work of Ferrer i Guardia, the anarchist educator executed after the Semana Trágica in Barcelona. The main prosecutor was the church. Here education has always been a sector in which the church wants to put her filthy hands. We still haven't got rid of her influence on state schools. I think the christian right is on a process of trying to reseizing them in the states too.

fort-da game
Offline
Joined: 16-02-06
Jun 10 2010 16:03

Dear all,

I am happy to put my argument to bed on this topic. Catch has put things pretty well, I thank him for that – I don't agree on the term 'self-management' but it is okay, we can begin all this again another day.

I really wanted to do a sort of summary of the issues here about disciplining architecture, about the relation of bourgeois ideals and practice, of class domination and the reproduction of values but I don't feel I have the energy.

I also wanted to show how I think this discussion is a good example of Libcom's anti-individual/pro-institution bias. I think that through its massive emphasis on reading 'the three volumes of capital' Libcom has tended to represent itself politically in terms of identifying with what it takes to be the objective development of the forces of production, this cashes out as a revolutionary solution in terms of 'self-management' without problematising at all the question of dead labour (meaning the mediation of live relations through established processes). In turn this approach produces a form of instrumentalist logic and identification with the forces of production themselves rather than sticking with, what I take to be the appropriate communist perspective, of identifying with the experience of alienation. This has led to a situation where any attempt to generate a discourse within Libcom based on alienated experiences has been marginalised. Libcom's unconscious identification with institutions and productive processes has produced a situation where it is always the individual who appears transgressive. The proper approach, the means to fit immediate proletarian experience of individual harm, would be to 'dialectically' facilitate the expression of such experiences and fit them into a wider communist theory... in other words, individuals should be encouraged to put their experiences into theoretical terms and not inhibited from doing so, e.g. if someone says they have spent X years on the production line and they have developed an industrial derived disease and they are going to die and they so hate what it is that has done this to them it is not a good idea to call them a 'primitivist'. Hating work and the machinery of production, becoming senstitised to the use of people by processes, really is a good communist beginning. The supposed 'anti-individualism' of Libcom actually manifests itself as an environment that is against individuals and the discourse that is appropriate to expressing alienation.

Thank you for the people who have expressed sympathy for my son... actually, he's not bothered at all, he is a very happy chap and simply cannot grasp the upset of teachers. However, I feel bad that I have given the impression that he is a thug of the same type who hang around my street (of course these were just little children once too). No, the problem of conformity as it is posed in school is much more insidious than that. The problem is not that he is a horrible hair pulling, punching, throwing things sort of child, on the contrary he is very joyful but undisciplined, he talks when he likes, he sits where he likes, he wanders where he likes, he makes silly noises and if he gets a laugh he gets worse. Within the school setting, this behaviour is perceived as pathological. The teachers generally find him very charming, he was cast as a sort of Gok Won type fashion designer in the school play which every one agreed suited his character very well. But despite his constant outpouring of happiness, he is viewed as a problem and is perpetually punished. My point in raising the issue is that there is now a vast range of identified inappropriate behaviours which are constantly monitored and corrected, and at each level the intensity of this monitoring is intensified to the point where simple silliness is enough for the child to be excluded from the class. I find it remarkable that the teachers are unable simply to engage children on their own terms.

Finally, I just want to pass on something that happened yesterday. My daughter refused to participate in a dissection class, rightly she identified it as not being a means of gaining knowledge but a way of proving how 'hard' children could be in tolerating the procedures. I completely agree with her, these procedures are a primitive initiation rite aimed at de-sensitisation and have no particular educational gain. As she is somewhat charismatic she organised some others not to participate too. The teacher called them wimps and began to taunt them about inconsistencies in their arguments, which of course were present but which they are not at the age where they can really reason them through. The 'not-wimp' members of the class joined in the taunting, reducing one boy to tears... as the class left the room he was physically attacked by other pupils. For me, the issue here is that the teacher could have put into words what it was that the 'wimps' were objecting to (as all they had to go on was an immediate feeling of something not being right). He could have facilitated their point of view and engendered a reasoned discussion but instead he whipped up a mob in the interest of 'science'.

I guess I include the above as a sort of parable. All any teacher can do is somewhat improve the horrible lives people have to live in this world, put flowers in the cell as it were, and attempt to provide a language to their students in order that they are able to perceive what is happening to them. Similarly, all a structure like Libcom can do is hope to provide a language that people can better understand what is happening to them... the fact that this is not happening in both cases indicates the presence of hidden automated forces in such mediated relations which cannot be subdued by good intentions.

I feel I have got something from this discussion. Maybe, we have shared something unpleasant and got through it without blood being spilt. Maybe I feel a bit more empathy for you people.

(I have not time to revise the text above, hopefully it makes sense.)

Boris Badenov
Offline
Joined: 25-08-08
Jun 10 2010 16:14
fort-da-game wrote:
what I take to be the appropriate communist perspective, of identifying with the experience of alienation. This has led to a situation where any attempt to generate a discourse within Libcom based on alienated experiences has been marginalised.

do you believe that individual alienation can ever be 'abolished'?

Armed Sheep
Offline
Joined: 21-03-09
Jun 10 2010 17:38
Rob Ray wrote:
Just curious Armed Sheep, if you have no intention of working post-revolution, how are you planning to sustain yourself? An anarchist society still needs to reproduce itself, which implies work. From everyone. I mean I personally have no intention of throwing off the weight of capitalists simply to end up supporting your lazy behind instead.

And for all that you complain that cantdocartwheels wouldn't clean the loos, he is part of an organisation (SolFed) which has a clear idea of distributing work in a fair and equal manner - which would include everything from teaching to wielding a bog brush once in a while.

I'll turn the question back on you. Do you think pleasurable activity is never productive? Very likely, you don't. On the other hand, I am involved in a loose community which engages in situationally provisional voluntary association. Most are still involved in the exchange paradigm, but I've experienced that that is not necessary to be productive or distribute "product" or "services". There is also an old tradition in the Western states which survives in some rural areas called being neighborly. If someone sees you toiling or in need, they come by and offer help. To charge would be un-neighborly and therefore inappropriate. This not only predates capitalism, but civilisation itself.

As well, there is no over-arching organisation which manages or administers anything. Everyone I know considers capitalism an unnecessary inconvenience we must work around. They would probably feel the same about any managerial organising authority. I have to agree with Kropotkin when he said

Quote:
"Speak of the organizing genius of the "Great Misunderstood", the people, to those who have seen it...and they will tell you how superior it is to the official ineptness of Bumbledom.

...In any case, a system which springs up spontaneously, under stress of immediate need, will be infinitely preferable to anything invented between four walls by hide-bound theorists sitting on any number of committees."

I think this is just as appropriate in the field of education. As noted by a few posters here, there is a huge difference between teaching or learning and what you find enduring in any capitalist institution. I've also found ideas coming from higher-level academia so saturated with early-instilled presumptions which are never questioned themselves (for example, that civilisation grew from the increased productivity of agriculture which allowed an increased population to be fed). Academia as we know it reproduces ideological foundations with little sense of epistemology. We make certain assumptions "because that's the way it's always been". The so-called "hard sciences" are not immune to this.

Valeriano Orobó...
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Jun 10 2010 18:16
fingers malone wrote:
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.

LOL, hadn't seen it before.

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Jun 10 2010 20:34
Quote:
Do you think pleasurable activity is never productive? Very likely, you don't.

Actually I enjoy doing my job, which is highly creative, but don't let that stop you from making up little fantasies for yourself. Fact is though many necessary jobs aren't fun, so they'll have to be shared out equitably and I repeat, I'm not taking your share simply because you think you're too good for it.

Quote:
On the other hand, I am involved in a loose community which engages in situationally provisional voluntary association... I've experienced that that is not necessary to be productive or distribute "product" or "services".

So in fact you would work, you just don't want to get your hands dirty being "productive" (exactly how do you define that btw? Is farming "productive?" If so, how are you expecting society to feed itself with everyone taking your attitude, particularly if no-one is working in distribution to bring any food which is produced to your door?)

Tbh what you've written comes across as a (particularly wordy) version of the usual "everyone will just get along" which is lovely, honestly, but we're not talking about a load of rural communes here we're talking about a population of 65 million people, mostly in cities, and a reliance on interaction with a further six billion. It requires a higher form of organisation than you're offering, though unlike you seem to assume I don't think that organisation implies any form of centralised government (otherwise I'd be a Leninist, not an anarchist no?)

cobbler
Offline
Joined: 22-12-09
Jun 10 2010 20:52
fort-da game wrote:
This has led to a situation where any attempt to generate a discourse within Libcom based on alienated experiences has been marginalised.

For my own part I did respond to the fact that a discourse was being based on alienated experiences and fully recognise the weight of them. I think there are huge failings within the educational system we have with regards dealing with individual children's needs, and also there are teachers who have such an authoritarian, unsympathetic and institutional approach that it raises my hackles just to think of them.

What I felt was a mistake in the argument being made was that the alienation felt was being turned to a denigration of all teachers rather than an argument about the current educational system which they work within.

I understand that the person alienated within the educational system will quite possibly have felt themselves to be in conflict with every teacher they encountered: in some cases they may well have been the instigator of this clash with some who would otherwise have been sympathetic. Often there is nothing a sympathetic teacher can do to help an antagonistic child, particularly since the teacher is obliged to work within the structure of the school.

I've digressed back to the original discussion rather than responding to your new point, so I'll stop there. The argument should be with the system, not all individuals who work within it.

Quote:
Finally, I just want to pass on something that happened yesterday.

The example you gave certainly smacks of unsympathetic and bullying practice. But again, an example against one should not be thought to fit all.

Quote:
I feel I have got something from this discussion. Maybe, we have shared something unpleasant and got through it without blood being spilt. Maybe I feel a bit more empathy for you people.

Me too.

Armed Sheep
Offline
Joined: 21-03-09
Jun 10 2010 22:01
Rob Ray wrote:
Fact is though many necessary jobs aren't fun, so they'll have to be shared out equitably and I repeat, I'm not taking your share simply because you think you're too good for it.
Quote:
On the other hand, I am involved in a loose community which engages in situationally provisional voluntary association... I've experienced that that is not necessary to be productive or distribute "product" or "services".

So in fact you would work, you just don't want to get your hands dirty being "productive" (exactly how do you define that btw? Is farming "productive?" If so, how are you expecting society to feed itself with everyone taking your attitude, particularly if no-one is working in distribution to bring any food which is produced to your door?)

Rob, now you're just being argumentative. You must have actually read what I said before you extracted the second half of one sentence and slammed it against the first half of another to produce an absurd equation. I certainly didn't write in those three dots. This is not just poor reading comprehension from probably too much education, but downright maliciousness.

p.s. Do you think everyone has the same value of pleasure or displeasure for any specific task performed? And what do you think are necessary jobs which everyone will agree to? Should everyone be identical, life would pretty much cease. This is not pomo relativity. The singular plan fit for everyone in every situation is precisely what Kropotkin called "Bumbledom".

Also, I've already covered the topic of distribution.

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Jun 10 2010 22:08

No, it's shortening a quote which was right above the response for the sajke of brevity. Explain how it's an inaccurate assessment? Also, I'm not the one throwing around long-winded terminology like some academic tourettes victim, so don't try the 'over educated' tone with me.

Alright then, seeing as you'll enjoy whatever you do, fancy volunteering for sewer maintainance duty? Or are you hoping someone else will just looove that job so you won't have to do it? Of course people will enjoy doing different things, but to pretend that all jobs are going to have people clamouring to do them so you won't ever have to do anything you don't like is just garbage.

Valeriano Orobó...
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Jun 10 2010 23:28
cobbler wrote:
I understand that the person alienated within the educational system will quite possibly have felt themselves to be in conflict with every teacher they encountered: in some cases they may well have been the instigator of this clash with some who would otherwise have been sympathetic. Often there is nothing a sympathetic teacher can do to help an antagonistic child, particularly since the teacher is obliged to work within the structure of the school.

Not necessarily, that doesn't happen, no. You'd be surprised about how these persons change their attitude depending on who they are speaking to and it doesn't depend on the other dude having greater power, no.

cobbler
Offline
Joined: 22-12-09
Jun 11 2010 00:45
Valeriano Orobón Fernández wrote:
Not necessarily, that doesn't happen, no. You'd be surprised about how these persons change their attitude depending on who they are speaking to and it doesn't depend on the other dude having greater power, no.

That's why I said "in some cases". wink

Armed Sheep
Offline
Joined: 21-03-09
Jun 11 2010 01:07
Rob Ray wrote:
Alright then, seeing as you'll enjoy whatever you do, fancy volunteering for sewer maintainance duty? Or are you hoping someone else will just looove that job so you won't have to do it?

Around here, I'm the guy to call for sewer problems. I love plumbing projects and have a stash of fittings which should last the rest of my life. They can also be recycled/reused so I don't have to charge for the service. Included in the service is educational instruction on the proper care and feeding of septic tank micro-flora and fauna. Should you kill them with toxic chemicals and detergents, the sewer will back up every time. Sewer repair calls seem to have diminished almost entirely. But I don't mind authentic shit. It's the impersonators I resent.

Be that as it may, pigeon-hole me as you will. I'm out of here anyway. I just hope you realise you're giving Fort da game's position on certain libcom etiquette quite a bit of credence.

ps. I have a dictionary.

Garco
Offline
Joined: 27-02-10
Jun 12 2010 05:49

The above posts have highlighted again what is becoming in my mind an insurmountable problem within the theoretical perspectives of the ‘revolutionary milieu’.

The essence of this problem is that there is very little reference to lived experience in the ‘revolutionary milieu’ and a very large reliance on what has been spread around over the decades by those who have submersed themselves in such writers as Marx (or in what has been transmitted to them by such). Thirty years ago it was commonplace for most lecturers at British Polytechnics and Universities to be Marxist of some kind. These days it seems commonplace for the ‘revolutionary milieu’ to have ‘read their Marx’, or to be involved in some reading group studying the words of his books. If one looks at the products of academia (search around on the web) then there can be found a huge amount of thoughts on Marx and his legacy… from what I have read on Libcom and elsewhere it is only a matter of time before this new research filters down to the ‘revolutionary milieu’ and forms part of the continuing backbone of their ideas. This process puts the ideas of the ‘revolutionary milieu’ way behind the research of academia. I find this disturbing.

Fort-da game, as usual, has put this very well in his posts, when he talks about the championing on Libcom of the institutionalised view over the individual view.

Thus it is that, from all the other posts above, it is only the ones from ‘sort it out frosty’ that have rung as if they came from a place of individual truth. If the word anarchist means anything then ‘sort it out frosty’ is the only anarchist who has contributed to this topic.

Tarwater wrote a specific post for me to answer, but I feel that all your questions have subsequently been answered by fort-da game. However, there is one question I would like to address.

Tarwater says:
“I find myself with the prospect of a child on my horizon and I wonder what I should do?
Everyone I've met who was homeschooled has been under-socialized and not properly prepared for "the real world".”

Yes, as the Philip Larkin poem suggests, I am not sure that having children is a good idea at all (I have one, by the way – and the current BP oil spill only confirms my original doubts). (Has anyone read the article I wrote for ‘Spoofversion’, entitled, ‘Are children agents of the Bourgeoisie’?!).

But apart from that, what I wanted to comment on was your reluctance to home-school. I have heard so many people say this.

My own thoughts about home-schooled children are these: most of the parents who do home-schooling are either unnaturally controlling of their children or they have issues themselves which make it difficult for them to ‘integrate’ ‘successfully’ with those around them. These, to me are the reasons that home-schooled children sometimes may appear to display ‘under-socialisation’.

I think there is no basis in the idea that home-schooling itself causes limited development of social skills. In Australia there has been a long tradition of distance learning for children who spend much of the year on remote properties with little access to other children, and I am not aware of a late development of social skills being an issue in this situation. However, I do not know much about this and may be wrong. My other comment is that I see lack of assimilation, or social skills, in many young people everyday and they have all been through, or are going through, the mill of school. Maybe the school system itself inhibits development of social skills?

Good luck with your coming child. When we had our child I became the ‘house-husband’ five weeks after the birth, and it was a great experience. When our child went to (ordinary/State) school I helped out in classes, I also taught sculpture to groups of home-schooled children. We then went through a bit of a crisis in our work/finances and I decided I had to leave behind my long years of unemployment, unskilled labour and, lately, house-husbanding. I was able to get on a teacher training course. I had an interest in this because of my ‘unofficial’ dabbling in it, and also because of my firm belief (based partly on my own interesting experiences) that school is potentially and very often a place of great trauma for students. I decided that I could at last earn a decent wage AND (Don Quixote-fashion) try to limit the bad effects of school on the few students who I might engage with. I became a primary school teacher in my forties. I became a professional; I became middle class. I have very little affinity with my fellow teachers, I am constantly disappointed by their lack of awareness and self-awareness – I have never worked with a group of people who are so predominantly unintelligent and lacking in courage. I ‘resigned’ from ‘politics’ at the same time as I joined the teaching course; however, I have recently been drawn back in, as you can see. I have also become involved in ‘politics’ of a sort in the area I now live. Maybe everyone on this thread should state their work status, as in, are they professional or not? This might be useful, in the same way that it is useful if people on a thread were talking about Unions said if they were union members or not. I am a little surprised that Libcom seems to have such a high proportion of professionals in its make up; and, in particular, teachers. It makes me wonder if there was indeed some truth in the old idea that it was always the lower middle class who caused the most trouble!…. But usually this trouble was identified as being borne out of envy for the lifestyles of the upper middle class and beyond… (this is from the same philosophy that created the lyric, to the tune of ‘Oh Christmas Tree’, “The working class can kiss my arse; I’ve got the foreman’s job at last!”).

I would encourage anyone coming to this thread here to go back to the first posting, also to read the posts from fort-da game and ‘sort it out frosty’, and to look at the quote posted by Armed Sheep in Post 50.

There seems little point in continuing the discourse here as the very dominant view does indeed seem to be in support of the capitalist institution of education, perhaps with some modifications. Also there seems little point in continuing a discussion as to whether teachers are middle class or professional or not, as the dominant view here seems to misread ‘Good Intentions’ as ‘Working Class’… ‘Teachers are working class’… I am still amazed at the lack of understanding and honesty this reveals, but never mind.

To ‘Sort it out Frosty’ I have to say: don’t let these people drag you down into their pro-capitalist positions – keep reflecting hard on your own immediate experiences and how they relate to what ‘revolutionaries’ and others tell you.

Garco
Offline
Joined: 27-02-10
Jun 12 2010 05:57

Lastly, I would like to make a comment about ‘alternative’ schooling. I have worked briefly in a Steiner School, so I have some real experience of this.

I would say that there is no hope of transforming Education into a good thing. Those who say that Education is getting worse have no real knowledge of the history of the last 150 years. In Britain in the late 19th Century they had to shorten the length of the school day because children were dying from nervous exhaustion and suicide. And what do they mean by ‘getting worse’? Was there a time when education in capitalist society was ‘less worse’ for children? When was it exactly? Was it the 1970’s? I was at school through this decade and I went from being able to read to having to relearn to read in a remedial class (in fact it was my mum who re-taught me), and I left the decade not knowing my times tables… – but as Mark Twain said, it seems that I at least partially managed to not let school get in the way of my education.

Steiner Schools; Waldorf Schools; Summerhill; Home-schooling; etc. If you think that these ‘alternatives’ provide a route to ‘educational’ success for the masses in capitalism, then I think you are mistaken. None of these alternatives work because the only real alternative is a completely different society.

To those who seem to have a plan for how Education could work in a communist world then I worry that in your transference of educational ideologies from the capitalist era into a future communist era you would be part of the whole counter-revolutionary project of recuperating the system of exploitation and alienation under which we currently live. Nightmare.

I have pasted a piece from an Educator called John Gatto below. He is, in my opinion, under the delusion that it is possible to ‘fix’ Education in the present society, and I would have to disagree with much of what he intimates and suggests. For example, there is a widely held assumption within Education, Government and Popular Thought that Education is the key to solving the world’s problems. There is an assumption amongst most radical Educators that modified or enhanced forms of the capitalist Education model are the key to solving the world’s problems. This is naïve in the extreme, in my opinion.

Nevertheless he makes some interesting points about school which the ‘Education Workers’ here might find interesting. (By the way, perhaps the ‘London Education Workers’ Group’ should be renamed the ‘London Teachers For a More Humane Education System Group’, this would be more apt and honest in relation to their apparent thoughts about Education; it would also make it plain that they were teachers and not cleaners. However, I suppose that the term ‘workers’ is not only derived from the desire to be considered a salt-of-the-earth ‘worker’ rather than a professional, but is also lifted from the jargon of the teaching unions).

Gatto is a former State school teacher from the US:

Nuts And Bolts
Let me end this book, my testament, with a warning: only the fresh air from millions upon millions of freely made choices will create the educational climate we need to realize a better destiny. No team of experts can possibly possess the wisdom to impose a successful solution to the problem inherent in a philosophy of centralized social management; solutions that endure are always local, always personal. Universal prescriptions are the problem of modern schooling, academic research which pursues the will-o-the-wisp of average children and average stages of development makes for destructive social policy, it is a sea anchor dragging against advancement, creating the problems it begs for money to solve. But here is a warning: should we ever agree to honor the singularity of children which forced schooling contravenes, if we ever agree to set the minds of children free, we should understand they would make a world that would create and re-create itself exponentially, a world complex beyond the power of any group of managers to manage. Such free beings would have to be self-managing. And the future would never again be easily predictable.

Here might be a first step toward such a great leap forward for human beings. Not a comprehensive formula, remember, but a first step:

If we closed all government schools, made free libraries universal, encouraged public discussion groups everywhere, sponsored apprenticeships for every young person who wanted one, let any person or group who asked to open a school do so—without government oversight—paid parents (if we have to pay anyone) to school their kids at home using the money we currently spend to confine them in school factories, and launched a national crash program in family revival and local economies, Amish and Mondragon style, the American school nightmare would recede.

That isn’t going to happen, I know.

The next best thing, then, is to deconstruct forced schooling, minimizing its school aspect, indoctrination, and maximizing its potential to educate through access to tools, models, and mentors. To go down this path requires the courage to challenge deeply rooted assumptions. We need to kill the poison plant we created. School reform is not enough. The notion of schooling itself must be challenged. Do this as an individual if your group won’t go along.

Here is a preliminary list of strategies to change the schools we have. I intend to develop the theme of change further in a future book, The Guerrilla Curriculum: How To Get An Education In Spite Of School, but I’m out of time and breath, so the brief agenda which follows will have to suffice for the moment. As you read my ideas maintain a lively awareness of the implicit irony that to impose them as a counter system would require as dictatorial a central management like the current dismal reality. The trick, then, is not to impose them. My own belief based on long experience is that people given a degree of choice arrive without coercion at arrangements somewhat like these, and even improve upon them with ideas beyond my own imagination to conceive. Such is the genius of liberty.

Dismiss the army of reading and arithmetic specialists and the commercial empire they represent. Allow all contracts with colleges, publishers, consultants, and materials suppliers in these areas to lapse. Reading and arithmetic are easy things to learn, although nearly impossible to "teach." By the use of common sense, and proven methods that don’t cost much, we can solve a problem which is artificially induced and wholly imaginary. Take the profit out of these things and the disease will cure itself.

Let no school exceed a few hundred in size. Even that’s far too big. And make them local. End all unnecessary transportation of students at once; transportation is what the British used to do with hardened criminals. We don’t need it, we need neighborhood schools. Time to shut the school factories, profitable to the building and maintenance industries and to bus companies, but disaster for children. Neighborhoods need their own children and vice versa; it’s a reciprocating good, providing surprising service to both. The factory school doesn’t work anywhere—not in Harlem and not in Hollywood Hills, either. Education is always individualized, and individualization requires absolute trust and split-second flexibility. This should save taxpayers a bundle, too.

Make everybody teach. Don’t let anybody get paid for schooling kids without actually spending time with them. The industrial model, with pyramidal management and plenty of hori-zontal featherbedding niches, is based on ignorance of how things get done, or indifference to results. The administrative racket that gave New York City more administrators than all the nations of Europe combined in 1991, has got to die. It wastes billions, demoralizes teachers, parents, and students, and corrupts the common enterprise.

Measure performance with individualized instruments. Standardized tests, like schools themselves, have lost their moral legitimacy. They correlate with nothing of human value and their very existence perverts curriculum into a preparation for these extravagant rituals. Indeed, all paper and pencil tests are a waste of time, useless as predictors of anything important unless the competition is rigged. As a casual guide they are probably harmless, but as a sorting tool they are corrupt and deceitful. A test of whether you can drive is driving. Performance testing is where genuine evaluation will always be found. There surely can’t be a normal parent on earth who doesn’t judge his or her child’s progress by performance.

Shut down district school boards. Families need control over the professionals in their lives. Decentralize schooling down to the neighborhood school building level, each school with its own citizen managing board. School corruption, like the national school milk price-rigging scandal of the 1990s, will cease when the temptations of bulk purchasing, job giveaways, and remote decision-making are ended.

Install permanent parent facilities in every school with appropriate equipment to allow parent partnerships with their own kids and others. Frequently take kids out of school to work with their own parents. School policies must deliberately aim to strengthen families.
Restore the primary experience base we stole from childhood by a slavish adherence to a utopian school diet of steady abstraction, or an equally slavish adherence to play as the exclusive obligation of children. Define primary experience as the essential core of early education, secondary data processing a supplement of substantial importance. But be sure the concepts of work, duty, obligation, loyalty, and service are strong components of the mix. Let them stand shoulder to shoulder with "fun." Let children engage in real tasks as Amish children do, not synthetic games and simulations that set them up for commercial variants of more-of-the-same for the rest of their lives.

Recognize that total schooling is psychologically and procedurally unsound. Wasteful and horrendously expensive. Give children some private time and space, some choice of subjects, methods, and associations, and freedom from constant surveillance. A strong element of volition, of choice, of anti-compulsion, is essential to education. That doesn’t mean granting a license to do anything. Anyway, whatever is chosen as "curriculum," the vital assistance that old can grant young is to demand that personal second or third best will not do—the favor you can bestow on your children is to show by your own example that hard, painstaking work is the toll an independent spirit charges itself for self-respect. Our colleges work somewhat better than our other schools because they understand this better.

Admit there is no one right way to grow up successfully. One-system schooling has had a century and a half to prove itself. It is a ghastly failure. Children need the widest possible range of roads in order to find the right one to accommodate themselves. The premise upon which mass compulsion schooling is based is dead wrong. It tries to shoehorn every style, culture, and personality into one ugly boot that fits nobody. Tax credits, vouchers, and other more sophisticated means are necessary to encourage a diverse mix of different school logics of growing up. Only sharp competition can reform the present mess; this needs to be an overriding goal of public policy. Neither national nor state government oversight is necessary to make a voucher/tax credit plan work: a modicum of local control, a disclosure law with teeth, and a policy of client satisfaction or else is all the citizen protection needed. It works for supermarkets and doctors. It will work for schools, too, without national testing.

Teach children to think dialectically so they can challenge the hidden assumptions of the world about them, including school assumptions, so they can eventually generate much of their own personal curriculum and oversight. But teach them, too, that dialectical thinking is unsuited to many important things like love and family. Dialectical analysis is radically inappropriate outside its purview.

Arrange much of schooling around complex themes instead of subjects. "Subjects" have a real value, too, but subject study as an exclusive diet was a Prussian secret weapon to produce social stratification. Substantial amounts of interdisciplinary work are needed as a corrective.

Force the school structure to provide flex-time, flex-space, flex-sequencing, and flex-content so that every study can be personalized to fit the whole range of individual styles and performance.

Break the teacher certification monopoly so anyone with something valuable to teach can teach it. Nothing is more important than this.

Our form of schooling has turned us into dependent, emotionally needy, excessively childish people who wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. Our national dilemma is that too many of us are now homeless and mindless in the deepest sense—at the mercy of strangers.

The beginning of answers will come only when people force government to return educational choice to everyone. But choice is meaningless without an absolute right to have progress monitored locally, too, not by an agency of the central government. Solzhenitsyn was right. The American founding documents didn’t mention school because the authors foresaw the path school would inevitably set us upon, and rejected it.
The best way to start offering some choice immediately is to give each public school the independence that private schools have. De-systematize them, grant each private, parochial, and homeschool equal access to public funds through vouchers administered as a loan program, along with tax credits. In time the need for even this would diminish, but my warning stands—if these keys to choice are tied to intrusive government oversight, as some would argue they must be, they will only hasten the end of the American libertarian experiment. Vouchers are only a transition to what is really called for: an economy of independent livelihoods, a resurrection of principles over pragmatism, and restoration of the private obligation, self-imposed, to provide a living wage to all who work for you.
School can never deal with really important things. Only education can teach us that quests don’t always work, that even worthy lives most often end in tragedy, that money can’t prevent this; that failure is a regular part of the human condition; that you will never understand evil; that serious pursuits are almost always lonely; that you can’t negotiate love; that money can’t buy much that really matters; that happiness is free.

A twenty-five-year-old school dropout walked the length of the planet without help, a seventeen-year-old school dropout worked a twenty-six-foot sailboat all by herself around the girdle of the globe. What else does it take to realize the horrifying limitations we have inflicted on our children? School is a liar’s world. Let us be done with it.

John Taylor Gatto

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Jun 12 2010 08:13
Quote:
Around here, I'm the guy to call for sewer problems.

Ah good, how are you with washing dishes, cleaning the streets, dementia care work, waste management, metal-casting and mining?

Quote:
I just hope you realise you're giving Fort da game's position on certain libcom etiquette quite a bit of credence.

Perhaps you're right, I may have been a little aggro, I do find it frustrating when people refuse to recognise very simple realities like that not all jobs are fun for the sake of saving a bankrupt argument though.

Quote:
ps. I have a dictionary.

And apparently you're not afraid to use it, which is fine as long as you don't then accuse other people of having "too much education" as though it's a bad thing.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Jun 12 2010 09:38
fort-da game wrote:
I also wanted to show how I think this discussion is a good example of Libcom's anti-individual/pro-institution bias. I think that through its massive emphasis on reading 'the three volumes of capital' Libcom has tended to represent itself politically in terms of identifying with what it takes to be the objective development of the forces of production, this cashes out as a revolutionary solution in terms of 'self-management' without problematising at all the question of dead labour (meaning the mediation of live relations through established processes). In turn this approach produces a form of instrumentalist logic and identification with the forces of production themselves rather than sticking with, what I take to be the appropriate communist perspective, of identifying with the experience of alienation. This has led to a situation where any attempt to generate a discourse within Libcom based on alienated experiences has been marginalised. Libcom's unconscious identification with institutions and productive processes has produced a situation where it is always the individual who appears transgressive. The proper approach, the means to fit immediate proletarian experience of individual harm, would be to 'dialectically' facilitate the expression of such experiences and fit them into a wider communist theory... in other words, individuals should be encouraged to put their experiences into theoretical terms and not inhibited from doing so, e.g. if someone says they have spent X years on the production line and they have developed an industrial derived disease and they are going to die and they so hate what it is that has done this to them it is not a good idea to call them a 'primitivist'. Hating work and the machinery of production, becoming senstitised to the use of people by processes, really is a good communist beginning. The supposed 'anti-individualism' of Libcom actually manifests itself as an environment that is against individuals and the discourse that is appropriate to expressing alienation.

You might have a point about a pro-institutional bias on libcom, there is sometimes an overreaction to individualism here, but your example is so fundamentally wrong that it's hard to have any sympathy with you. Anarchism is plagued by an overemphasis on the individual. The common mistake that anarchism is about the individual. Anarchism is about society, it is about people choosing to help and support each otherand producing frameworks to do this effectively. Old people's homes are horrible places and I don't think that they should exist but I think that someone suffering from alzheimer's does need to be cared for someone and that burden should not just fall on family, which the person may not even have. A community looks at the individual with alzheimer's and determines a collective response to their situation.

I do not believe that individuals should be ignored but although people need to be listened to I think this is taken too far within the anarchist milieu (and left politics in general) people expect to be endlessly listened to and formulate reasons why their experiences are so special or important. Ultimately when organisations are formed the people forming them will discuss and decide upon them and I don't think that they should be held to ransom by people with extreme views. Just because people need to be listened to does not mean that they should be given control. Communities work because people contribute, because they negotiate and because tey learn that you can't always get everything that you want and you can't always do everything that you want.

Garco wrote:
But apart from that, what I wanted to comment on was your reluctance to home-school. I have heard so many people say this.

My own thoughts about home-schooled children are these: most of the parents who do home-schooling are either unnaturally controlling of their children or they have issues themselves which make it difficult for them to ‘integrate’ ‘successfully’ with those around them. These, to me are the reasons that home-schooled children sometimes may appear to display ‘under-socialisation’.

I think there is no basis in the idea that home-schooling itself causes limited development of social skills. In Australia there has been a long tradition of distance learning for children who spend much of the year on remote properties with little access to other children, and I am not aware of a late development of social skills being an issue in this situation. However, I do not know much about this and may be wrong. My other comment is that I see lack of assimilation, or social skills, in many young people everyday and they have all been through, or are going through, the mill of school. Maybe the school system itself inhibits development of social skills?

So home-schooling doesn't work properly under capitalism? Surprisingly neither does educartion or anything else. The lack of social skills I would attribute to a micture of failings at school, home and in wider society.

I remember being shocked at the age of about 17 when I saw a toddler crying and saw his mother ( I assume) bend down over him and scream "shut the fuck up" in his face. This was a woman clearly not being supported, who clearly did not have the skills or energy to cope with her child at that point. I didn't say parents are institutionally aggressive, but I saw it. Many parents are bullying and controlling but this hasn't been highlighted as a structural problem.

I think it's odd that the anti-educationalists blame teachers but not parents for the problems children have. Both are put in a position of responsibility towards young people and both often fail sometimes because they lack the skills, sometimes because they lack the desire and that the system does not remedy this.

Everything within a structure contributes to maintaining it, even as it pushes against it. this is the paradox. Capitalism wants skilled educated workers but real education costs money and produces unpredictable results. Some teachers start out good, some bad, some get better some get worse, but most find the oppositional system to be something that drains them and most will tell you the best parts of their job are when they can get the students to go beyond that. so whether that is racing a student up sand dunes or using swear words to teach students about the length of vowels the pleasure of teaching is when we do what we are told to do but are prevented from doing* which is actually teach people, or even better help students to learn by themselves.

*current example of this is 'personalisation' this means that students should have the lesson personalised to fit their interests, learning style etc. But we are also forbidden from giving students different work. So I teachers are simultaneously given contradictory instructions, the first is based on educating people, the second is based on control. Ask any teacher which they prefer. Ask them whether if they had time to prepare them all their lessons would be personalised.

the last point I'll make now is that free-schooling often has a very strong hierarchical element to it, just because the parent/carer/etc isn't giving orders does not mean that they are not in charge and unless it is done properly it can be an adult just wandering around feeling big because they've got some kids listening to them who don't know any better.