Chris Hedge on Our Educational System

Chris Hedges is right on target with this truthdig post.

Dora

Why the United States is Destroying Its’ Educational System

A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.

Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers—those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potential—and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.

Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They don’t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts—those who march to the beat of their own drum—are weeded out.

To read the article in full, go to Truthout.

4 comments

  1. School board voted on and accepted Sheffield’s resignation tonight. Big push, all of a sudden, at last minute by area ministers and folks that didn’t bother to speak up sooner to try to convince her to stay and to applaud her efforts. It was sad. There’s more going on here than meets the eye. Stay tuned. Board actually questioned purchase orders, like $500,000 for ENI (were told it was part of $5.1 million contract – uh, scores didn’t go up – but we’re still stuck paying them).

  2. Bob,

    Two things came to mind while I was reading this article.

    First, is it the assumption by these reformers that the leaders, scientists, writers, heads of corporations, the people who will lead the way, the innovators, will then be their children who are receiving an education in private schools that emphasize critical thinking and problem solving through creative solutions? That leaves the rest of us to churn out the widgets and whatsits and thneeds.

    Second thought, I just read an article by John Thompson titled “Why President Obama Must ‘See Like a State,’ Not Like a Teacher” on the Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-thompson/why-president-obama-must-_b_846301.html.

    In the article he quotes White House Aide Melody Barnes:

    “Similarly, the Washington Post explained how White House Aide Melody Barnes has become a driving force in seeing education from an economic perspective. Barnes argues that “education goes beyond fairness.” She explains, “We have a realistic understanding of what the private sector is really looking for, and we’re looking to align education with what’s needed in the real world.” She has “spent a fair amount of time speaking to CEOs and others about our educational reform agenda,” Barnes says. “They tell me that when they’re thinking about where they’re going to locate their manufacturing base, they think about the educational opportunities they’re looking at. We know they have the opportunity to base their operations in the U.S. or elsewhere.”

    But of course to move the manufacturing base back to the US would require that our wages become more “competitive” with those paid in India and China. To do that would require that unions no longer be allowed or are in some way rendered impotent.

    The other piece to that is just what Ms. Barnes states, that all corporations want out of us and our children are mindless workers just glad to have a job, any job. Whatever it takes to make America “strong” again.

    It doesn’t seem to matter anymore for us to be leaders in innovation in this country. Funding for NASA was cut drastically by Bush and I haven’t heard that the budget for scientific exploration has been restored since then. I don’t hear Obama talk about what we can achieve as a nation or provided us with a vision of what we could again be. Instead I only hear about the attempted annihilation of our unions, met by silence by our president, Obama’s wars, the bailing out of banks and corporations and subsidizing oil companies, welfare is OK as long as it is for the rich I suppose, and how we are to continue to take on the responsibility of bailing out this country while a small percent of the wealthy who hold 50% of the country’s wealth will continue to get their tax breaks. Oh yeah, and a defense budget that is not to be touched during budget negotiations on Capitol Hill, so that the business interests of these individuals and corporations continue to be protected around the world.

    There is no vision in this country beyond the vision of a wealthy few and that vision has nothing to do with our best interests or those of our children.

    Dora

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