love your city

dumb it down
April 12, 2011, 22:27
Filed under: trill

together we have come to realize that for most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.i. illich

aside from all the other quarter life crises that i’ve been encountering as of late, i’ve really been buggin’ out on the issue of education. mine, yours and everyone’s. the state of michigan just passed a bill to close so many public schools that the average number of students per classroom will average 60. SIXTY. the concrete will just swallow roses up.

i recently went to a rally at carleton university encouraging the school’s divestment in certain israeli companies that support the palestinian apartheid. the board would not allow any students to participate or even sit in on the meeting. which is illegal. the rally was peaceful, restrained, mild-mannered and entirely respectful. my boy franky, who just finished his BA at carleton, forwarded me an email that the university had sent to all staff, students, and alumni following the rally which blew the situation completely out of proportion and threatened those participating in future demonstrations. limiting access to campus, fines and loss of academic status were all listed as possibilities. allegedly one participant was threatened with a fine equaling the total sum of his tuition paid to date.

it’s all about the money, money.

a university degree nowadays means nothing, because every single person has one. it has lost its value. no longer is it a stepping stone to careers out there, it also doesn’t really teach you anything except how to pass a course. or how to cheat the system. long gone are the days of professors inspiring the youth, of scholars breeding scholars. regurgitating slideshows. replacing textbooks we never used with eye-straining online readings. everyone has a laptop in front of them and is more concerned with social media than social science. i have been to one of my classes 3 times this year and i am going into the final exam with an 85.

and why is that shit so fuckin’ expensive in the first place? it’s free in sweden and they all speak at least 2 languages and look better while doing it, too.

and really, how many people continue to gather knowledge after they finish their formal educations? how often do people proudly declare that they can’t remember the last time they read a book? you can’t watch documentaries because the truth makes you uneasy? you’re exhausted after working all day at a job you hate and all you want to do is sit on your ass and watch charlie sheen win? but who am i to judge..

it scares me, all of this. not just on the strength that i believe that there are few things more important than the constant pursuit of knowledge. the more they dumb you down, the easier you are to control. it has been proven that people will more willingly believe a big lie than a small one. see also: sleeper effect.

taylor mali on what teachers make. if you don’t feel like battling with words, watch this instead.

teachers are supposed to inspire. how come we ain’t gettin’ no higher?

both of my parents are high school teachers. they are among some of the few lucky immigrants who hold jobs that even vaguely resemble those they had in their home countries. in the czech republic, they were university professors. they would have had to rewrite their theses in order to validate their level of education in canada, so they took an L and decided teach high school instead. they are very happy in what they do. millions of people across north america are not so lucky. they drive you places when it’s cold out, they make and deliver you food when you are hungry, they clean up your blood and your vomit at the club and they are probably smarter than you.

tangent. teachers. that dream of the one inspirational teacher who made you believe (in what? in whatever you needed to believe in) is quickly turning sour. i admit that’s painting it with the widest of brushes, but i dare you to show me different. i brought up my parents because they are both shining examples of teachers who get you open. my mom teaches high school math and is showered with cards and wine and pixie dust and turtledoves at the end of the year. her yearbook was always bursting at the seams with praises and song and whenever her sudents find out that i’m her daughter, they hug me. math. she makes people love math. then again, she could make you love anything. my dad teaches at a pretty rough school, but that’s okay because he’s pretty fucking rough too. daddy dearest has the reputation of a man not to be fucked with, and to a school full of baby gangsters it’s the only thing that keeps him from getting eaten alive. that, and he has an accent that makes his sound kind of like a russian mobster. he teaches phys ed. and brings kids who have never seen snow skiing. he teaches science and he shows them all the seasons of planet earth because most of them don’t really speak that much english and sometimes you can show ’em better than you can tell ’em.

lapham’s quarterly, fall 2008: ways of learning

ivan illich wrote an excellent book on deinstitutionalizing education, called deschooling society. it is a meditation on the modern education system, and how institutionalized education is all just a building block for an institutionalized society.  way before the internet (1971) he championed for the use of learning webs, a tool as he described would “…heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring… the operation of a peer-matching network would be simple. the user would identify himself by name and address and describe the activity for which he sought a peer. a computer would send him back the names and addresses of all those who had inserted the same description. it is amazing that such a simple utility has never been used on a broad scale for publicly valued activity.” you can read the whole book online here (please be kind to your eyes).

illich not only assessed the issue but provided solutions. sugata mitra does the same with his concept of child-driven education. he can explain it to you much better than i can and he’s a funny dude too, so check him out. his ted talk site is here, with 2 separate talks on his studies and findings. brilliance. he is truly inspirational and lends some hope to finding viable alternatives to our failing systems.

thanks for listening.

some of my favorite online fountains of knowledge:
al jazeera

video tutorials on almost everything. real real real shit.
khan academy

ecologically pragmatic to the wildly visionary.

reality sandwich

with a grain of salt.

truth is scary


1 Comment so far
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This that real shit. Love Your City equivalent of the Mobb’s Quiet Storm. Thank you.

I can’t speak for anyone else, because everybody has different goals for their life, but personally… The more time passes, the more I realize I got out at exactly the right time. Peace.

Comment by DP

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